Getting Started

Perhaps the first question should be, What’s a the difference between a Technical Writer, Technical Communicator, or Document Developer ? And the answer is: None, Nada, Zero, etc. The basic task remains and that is to interpret and effectively communicate technical and business-oriented information. We are expected to be able to undertake development of a broad range of documents, whether in the computer hardware and software arena, engineering specifications, electronic systems, medicine, or in any number of other fields. In recent years, the tasks we might perform have broadened, to include:

  • Corporate policy and procedures,

  • Marketing and public relations communication,

  • Training materials, and

  • Web content.

The technical writing field has been explosive for at least the past twenty-five years, and especially during the late-80s and 90s when tradition technical writing assignment were abundant. The booming computer and high technology industry, coupled with the incredible growth of the Internet, were key drivers. But in addition to these more typical kinds of assignments, many more opportunities opened to technical writer’s as recognition of their skills expanded to encompass more or less non-traditional areas.

Along the way, as these developments were taking place, the skills required of technical writers increased, including:

  • Greater understanding of the technologies,
  • PC and Internet skills,
  • Graphics and illustration, and
  • General ability to envision presentation of information.

All these factors interacted – to one extent or another – to blur the title “Technical Writer.” The result was an effort to identify a title that better described the profession based on the new skills required and the employer’s expectations.

There can be no doubt the growth in technology-driven industries has been instrumental in the dramatic rise in the demand for accurate, well-written documentation. By far the most prominent demand is for documentation that allows organizations to use new or existing technology and infrastructure with maximum productivity. As a direct result, the demand for individuals with documentation skills continues to expand and the prospects look extremely good for people with the required skills.

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