There are universities that offer courses in technical writing, and there are also opportunities to complete online degrees in technical writing. Many successful technical writers, however, have little to no formal technical writing training. Whether they are self-taught or formally educated, every technical writer must possess the following skills if they hope to succeed:
Writing skills: If you want to be successful in the field of technical writing, it should come as no surprise that exemplary writing skills are essential. You must be able to write properly-constructed sentences, use punctuation effectively, and proofread your work thoroughly for errors.
Computer skills: If you're thinking about a career in technical writing, strong computer skills are essential. You'll have to be familiar with a word processing program of course, but you'll also need to know how to do more advanced tasks like adding graphics and charts. Knowing how to use email and conduct research on the Internet will also be vital.
Research and organizational skills: You may be provided with information for some projects, but most technical writing assignments will require you to do some independent research as well. You'll need to rely on your research skills to seek out the information you need to complete your assigned project, and you'll also need strong organizational skills to identify essential information and decide where it should be included in the user manual, white paper, or annual report.
The ability to simplify complex information: Many technical writing documents, such as user guides and assembly instructions, are written for people who possess little technical knowledge. You must be able to take a complex procedure, break it down into steps, and explain these steps in a way that the average person will be able to complete them with relatively little difficulty.
The ability to follow instructions: Technical writing is not the best choice for those who are creative writers at heart. Most types of technical documents have specific instructions regarding layout, formatting, and contents, and it's essential that you are able to follow them exactly.
Last Updated: 05/05/2014