It used to be that tech writers were people with English degrees who needed a job. However, with the modern explosion of technology and the current economy, technical writer training is pretty much a prerequisite for the job. There are several types out there.
It is possible to get any of the basic degrees specifically in tech writing, if you go to the correct school. This means two-year associate’s degrees, four-year bachelor’s, and the occasional masters. The near-equivalent for job purposes is an English degree with an emphasis in tech writing.
Certificate programs are for getting people into the field faster. They can either be for people looking to enter at the lowest rung, but as quickly as possible, or for people with some but not all of the training, usually in the form of a bachelor’s degree in some other field. Introductory certificates are usually found at community colleges, and post-graduate ones can be found at universities.
The actual job that tech writers do varies by their employment location. The general job involves turning technical instructions written by scientists and engineers into something that a lay person can understand. Tech writers work in all fields of technology, including electronics, computers, specialized machine manufacturers and more.
Tech writing pays decently, which is why it used to be the bastion of other-underpaid English majors. However, now people need to have the appropriate degree to get into the field in most cases. It does offer some flexibility in work schedules and locations in a lot of cases, however, which may contribute to its continuing popularity.
Technical Writer training is pretty much a necessity if you want to join the field. Like with every job, however, be relatively sure that you could be happy doing this job. It involves a lot of staring at a computer screen, deciphering technical gibberish, and working with other people, as well as the benefits it provides.
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