Technical writing or technical communication is an extremely fast-growing industry. More and more writers are jumping onto technical writing and reaping the benefits it brings. Technical writing can be very lucrative, as well as offering the writer big, meaty projects. Writers love a challenge, and technical writing can certainly provide something that will stretch writer’s minds and keep them interested.
In this article, we’ll be taking you through a step-by-step process which will set you well on track to landing your first technical writing job. Because technical communication is so specialised, it requires more training and effort in the preliminary stages than many other writing jobs. However, it is well worth the effort, as landing a job results in well-paid, ongoing work.
Choose a specific technical writing track
All technical writing is related to one of a number of occupational fields, such as engineering, medicine, finance or robotics. Basically, if an occupation field is at all technical, then it needs technical writing or communication.
When setting out to become a technical writer, it’s a good idea to choose a specific, niche technical writing track. It’s always best to select the field in which you have the greatest amount of knowledge or experience, as not only will you find the work easier, but you’ll be more likely to land the projects you want.
Attain qualifications in your chosen field
Because technical writing is so specialised and of such a high standard, prospective clients and employers are far more likely to hire and elicit your services if you have qualifications, not only in writing but in the field in which you’re writing.
Essentially, employers and clients need evidence that you understand the field as well as that you’re a skilled and talented writer. If you don’t have any useful qualifications, it might be worth seeking out potential clients and finding out what they require or expect of their technical writers. Failing this, try to contact technical writers who are successful in your chosen field and pick their brains.
Join the Society for Technical Communication
Joining societies is always a great idea when you’re looking to enter a new field. Furthermore, the official society is almost always the best option. It may cost a bit of cash, but it’ll be more than worth it when you consider networking opportunities and job prospects and openings. The Society for Technical Communication will provide updates on writing jobs within your field, and these are likely to be the better jobs going.
In addition to this, prospective employers and clients will be impressed with the fact that you’re a member of the Society for Technical Communication. It shows a certain level of professionalism and dedication to your work and your field in particular.
Attend the right events
Attending the right events is extremely important as a technical writer. If you’re to be taken seriously as a technical writer, networking is massively important. It’s always a good idea to ensure you’re being seen in the right places and with the right people.
However, just going to the events isn’t enough. Try to put yourself out there and make connections. Take business cards, hand out your business card and follow any connections up within a week of making them. One of the keys to becoming a successful technical writer is being known and respected in your field.
Create a really sharp CV and portfolio
Once you’ve established connections and have everything you need to get started as a successful technical writer, it’s time to take the final step. When you’re applying for writing jobs, you need to have a really good CV and portfolio. In order to create a portfolio, you may need to undertake some voluntary or unpaid work. Whilst this may initially seem like a sacrifice, it’ll be extremely helpful in helping you land your first paid technical writing job.
Once you’ve created your CV and portfolio, send them out to all of your relevant contacts, as well as targeting companies you’d like to work for directly.
That’s our five step guide to getting a technical writing job. Remember when you set out that, although some of the steps may seem like a lot of work, technical writing is highly lucrative and offers a great deal to writers successful in the field.