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Is a technical writer a hard job?

How can I get into it?

+25 Karma if successful
From: You
To: Friend
Subject: Career question for you


4 answers

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Bhavna’s Answer

Hello Quinten,

Yes, becoming a technical writer can be a hard job. It requires patience and good research skills to become successful. You will also need excellent writing skills, an understanding of the technical aspects of the subject matter, and the ability to communicate complex information in a way that is easy to understand. Shifting technologies can also require that technical writers be up-to-date on the latest information.

To get into a technical writing career, you should begin by gaining education and relevant experience. A degree in English, communications, journalism, or a related field can provide a good foundation, supplemented by technical writing courses. Experience with technical topics can also be helpful. It would also be beneficial to gain experience in writing, language, and grammar as well as research and computer applications. You should also be well-versed in the industry in which you plan to work.

Finally, it is important to build a portfolio of your work to showcase your skills to potential employers. Technical writing requires a combination of research, writing, and editing skills, so demonstrating your abilities in these areas will help to make you stand out.

I hope this helps.
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Michael’s Answer

I was a Technical Writer for many years. A Technical Writer is really just an writer for a specific story. For example, you have Fiction writers, you have Romance Novel writers, +more writers, and then Technical Writers. Technical Writers write instructions, steps, and documentation for Computer Applications, Software, Hardware, or Networks. Back in the old days, software manuals were quite long and boring. For example, you could find a 2" book on how to use Microsoft Windows. But today, Technical Writers are now creating instructions or documentation using video and short stories. It is no longer appropriate to write a novel in order to describe software or how to use it. People want short, step by step instructions, in a easy to understand format so that they can learn the information and get back to work. The salary for Technical Writers is very good ; with a college degree they starting pay of $60,000 - $100,000+.

Michael recommends the following next steps:

To Become a Technical Writer:
Step 1: Most employers prefer a college degree; earn one in Computer Science, English, or Marketing, etc.
Step 2: Take classes on Technical Writing
Step 3: Write some documentation or create technical videos and show your work !
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Charles M’s Answer

The question was changed from when I received the email about it. The question I want to answer is "When being a technical writer do you move a lot or is it just sitting on a desk?"

My experience is that technical writers sit at a desk and write, day after day, for months at a time. Then, you might get an exciting time by being able to go to where the airplane, or other equipment, is and actually see it, or touch it for a day or two.

I was educated as an Electrical Engineer in the 1980s and the job offer I received was from Boeing to be a technical writer. They said it was easier to teach an engineer how to write than it was to teach a writer how to engineer. Documenting the maintenance of an aircraft to a low level takes a high level of technical understanding. I had the opportunity to write the first couple of revisions of a component-level maintenance manual for the circuit boards that control the passenger address system on the Boeing 777 Aircraft. It explained how a repair technician would diagnose and repair a failure of components on that circuit card. I never got to see a 777 while it was in the factory, but I was able to go to the 747 landing gear shop and see the very tall landing gear structures as they were being assembled. While at Boeing on a different writing job, I needed to talk with engineers to get the information I needed, because it wasn't written down yet. After I wrote the procedures, I got to go to the systems integration lab (SIL) and actually perform the instructions I was writing to validate that I had written it sufficiently clear. I also got to watch technicians in the US Air Force attempt to follow my instructions. While they did that, I took notes on how to improve the material.

My current job at L3Harris is at a different level. I am writing procedures to tell experienced maintainers how to remove and install pieces of rack-mounted equipment in both the aircraft and in the ground station. This involves careful study of the engineering drawings, including the 3D models of the racks. We are not writing in English, we are using structured writing with the S1000D version of XML. It is English when the technician sees it on the page, but we see the XML tags that wrap around those English words. The editor we use requires that we write the XML code, but it gives us lots of help in making sure the tags are correct. I also need to communicate with engineers to clarify what is not clear in the engineering drawings, and also discuss the review comments they provide about the material we wrote that they reviewed.

Charles M recommends the following next steps:

Technical writing involves expressing ideas clearly and concisely. Seek out examples and learn from them, but also practice the various types of technical writing as much as you can and get feedback on your efforts from people who know English well.
Learn how to manage long projects from beginning to end and maintain a level of quality good enough for the customer. Determine how long it takes you to do the various task, figure out a schedule of when the project will be done, and then work to that schedule.
Develop your personal quality process that will help you maintain a level of quality that is "good enough" for the customer. Spacecraft and aircraft require a much higher quality level than lawnmowers. You are the one that is in charge of the quality level of your output. Learn to be flexible in balancing speed with quality.
Learn how to find information quickly and learn it quickly. Learn how to express it quickly. I've used my skills in writing instructions for old people on how to use new technology. But I had to deliver it quickly so they could get their task done before the deadline.
Learn how to develop good working relationships with people you don't know. Learn how to elicit the information you need from them in a way that builds the relationship.
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James Constantine’s Answer

Dear Quinten,

Mastering the Voice Acting Industry

To excel as a voice actor in cartoon shows, it's crucial to grasp the intricacies of the industry, its inner workings, and the multifaceted elements it encompasses. Voice acting blends acting prowess with vocal talent, distinguishing it as a special sector in the entertainment world.

Hone Your Abilities

Embarking on your voice acting journey for cartoon shows begins with refining your skills. This involves enhancing your vocal range, pronunciation, command over accents, and acting prowess. Enroll in voice training, participate in workshops, and become part of local theater troupes to acquire experience and boost your confidence in front of audiences.

Craft a Demo Reel

After honing your skills, compile a demo reel that highlights your abilities. It should feature a variety of character voices, accents, and styles to exhibit your adaptability as an actor. Your demo reel will act as a marketing instrument when introducing yourself to casting directors and production houses.

Networking and Auditioning

Networking is instrumental in making your mark in the voice acting industry. Participate in industry gatherings, become a member of professional associations, and engage with fellow actors and casting directors on social media. Stay alert for auditions and submit your demo reel as required. Fostering relationships within the industry will amplify your chances of securing roles in cartoon shows.

Investigation and Preparation

Investigate the companies and production studios that produce cartoon shows. Acquaint yourself with their productions, target demographics, and favored voice actors. This insight will assist you in customizing your audition materials and heighten your chances of being shortlisted for roles.

Seek Formal Education

Contemplate obtaining formal education in voice acting, theater, or film. Numerous institutions provide programs centered on honing vocal techniques, acting abilities, and industry insights. These programs can offer invaluable connections and opportunities within the sector.

Digital Footprint

Establish a digital footprint on platforms like YouTube, Vimeo, or SoundCloud. Share your creations, display your talents, and interact with the community. This will not only help you cultivate a fan base but also increase your visibility to casting directors and producers.

Agents and Managers

As you accumulate experience and expand your portfolio, think about obtaining representation from agents or managers who specialize in voice acting. They can help publicize your abilities, negotiate contracts, and secure auditions on your behalf.

Authoritative Resource Titles

SAG-AFTRA - The Screen Actors Guild-American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (SAG-AFTRA) is a labor union that represents over 160,000 professionals from various media fields. It provides resources and information on voice acting careers, including audition listings, casting calls, and industry updates.

Voice Acting Academy - Voice Acting Academy provides online courses, coaching, and resources for budding voice actors. Their curriculum spans various aspects of voice acting, including vocal technique, character creation, and business strategies.

Backstage - Backstage is a digital platform that links actors, models, and creatives with casting directors, agents, and industry professionals. It provides job listings, audition notices, and resources for those pursuing careers in film, television, theater, and voice acting.

May God bless you!
James Constantine Frangos.