In addition to solid research, copywriting, language, writing, and revision skills, a technical writer may have skills in:

Business Analysis.
Computer Scripting.
Content management.
Illustration/Graphic design.
Indexing.
Information architecture.
Information design.
Localization/Technical translation

Business analysis is a research discipline of identifying business needs and determining solutions to business problems. Solutions often include a software-systems development component, but may also consist of process improvement, organizational change or strategic planning and policy development.

Business analysis is the set of tasks and techniques used to work as a liaison among stakeholders in order to understand the structure, policies, and operations of an organization, and to recommend solutions that enable the organization to achieve its goals.

Business analysis involves understanding how organizations function to accomplish their purposes, and defining the capabilities an organization requires to provide products and services to external stakeholders. It includes the definition of organizational goals, how those goals connect to specific objectives, determining the courses of action that an organization has to undertake to achieve those goals and objectives, and defining how the various organizational units and stakeholders within and outside of that organization interact.

Business analysis may be performed to understand the current state of an organization or to serve as a basis for the later identification of business needs. In most cases, however, business analysis is performed to define and validate solutions that meet business needs, goals, or objectives.

Content management (CM) is the administration of digital content throughout its lifecycle, from creation to permanent storage or deletion. The content involved may be images, video, audio and multimedia as well as text. The usual stages in digital content management are: Creation. Editing.

A content management system (CMS) is a system used to manage the content of a Web site. Typically, a CMS consists of two elements: the content management application (CMA) and the content delivery application (CDA). The CMA element allows the content manager or author, who may not know Hypertext Markup Language (HTML), to manage the creation, modification, and removal of content from a Web site without needing the expertise of a Webmaster. The CDA element uses and compiles that information to update the Web site. The features of a CMS system vary, but most include Web-based publishing, format management, revision control, and indexing, search, and retrieval.

Technical Translations
Technical translation is at the heart of product localization.

But for specialist IT texts, mere translation is not enough. Technical expertise and linguistic competence must go hand in hand. think global works with the following document types:

Technical translation of documentation
(online and print manuals) in the following formats:
Adobe InDesign
QuarkXPress
Adobe FrameMaker
Adobe Freehand
PDF (reconversion is not possible)
Other formats on request
Technical translation of online help
Marketing texts

In-House and In-Country—A Definite Advantage

Our international teams are made up of native-speaker IT translators and editors who have to meet strict quality standards. This way, we can guarantee a document of excellent linguistic and technical accuracy, having the consistency and quality our clients rely on. This is what sets think global apart from other translation agencies that use a loose network of freelance resources.
Technical Expertise

think global translators are doubly qualified: They possess both IT expertise and high-level linguistic competence. This means that your IT texts are clearly understood and translated expertly.
Quality

Our efficient, three-point TEP quality assurance system (translation + editing + proofreading) allows us to deliver press-ready technical translations. All technical translations are carried out in accordance with the exacting QA model of the Localization Industry Standards Association (LISA).
Project Management

Each think global client is assigned a personal project manager, who is versed in the client’s individual needs and preferences.

Let’s first define a Technical Writer (TW), a Business Analyst (BA), and a Usability Expert (UX). Checkout this comparison chart:
Tasks required     TW     BA     UX
Understand the business     Writes about business models     Analyses the business model     Uses business models
Transfer knowledge     Ability to communicate     Ability to communicate     Ability to communicate
Work across various functions/disciplines     Gathers information     Gathers information     Gathers information
Information Architect     Designs a user interface (UI) structure     Designs a interface (UI) structure     Designs a user interface (UI) structure
Governance of information     Handles data or information     Handles data or information     Presentation of data or information

The TW translates the business terms and technical information into simple easy to understand terms and guidelines so that the project can be accomplished.

The BA translates business policies, strategies, or regulations into system requirements for a project and takes a course of action to ensure the completion of the project.

The UX translates business requirements into information retrieval by ensuring the right data is captured or presented through an defined process.

All three roles have to:

Analyze and document the current business processes to ensure that the content is understood by the project stakeholders.
Create and present process flows, information architecture, site maps and prototypes for complex applications.
Identify and document future business processes including opportunities for process improvements.
Understand the features, functions, and capabilities of applications or services or products in order to achieve high performance goals.
Gather business requirements using different requirements gathering techniques (e.g. interviews, surveys, meetings, etc.).
Analyze and document business requirements using specific modeling or case tools.
Partake in tracking changes to the project.
Work with the business stakeholders, i.e., graphic designers, web developers, business analysts and software engineers.
Translate business requirements into technical and functional specifications.
Collaborate with the technical resources or any subject matter expert to gather specific (data or design) information.
Conduct, coordinate, and perform user acceptance tests, user walk-through sessions, and other ways to test the designs as well as create test plans to ensure adherence to specifications.
Act as a liaison between the IT project team and the business stakeholders.
Translating client goals into user-centered designs.
Write user-friendly text for on-screen instructions, headings, button labels, link text and other matter that have an effect on a user’s experience   .
Create guidelines and sharing best practices.

The role of the technical writer is ever evolving and becoming more relevant every day.

ocumentation, and more.
6 Skill Sets Every Modern Day Technical Writer Needs to Succeed

Posted by Amy Castronova on Thu,Aug 29, 2013

Over my multi-decade career as a technical writer, I’ve learned about radars, mainframe computers, weather satellites, Chinook helicopters, air conditioning systems, furnaces, material handling systems, printing presses, cameras, process equipment solutions, and medical devices. And, now I’m blogging on a regular basis. Not bad for an English major from LeMoyne College.technical writing services

From my perspective, being a technical writer has been a fun and exciting experience. It has provided me with an opportunity to interact with a variety of experts in their field, have a career I enjoyed, travel, take an extended hiatus to raise my children, and then return to the profession I loved for a second full-time career. For the past few years, it has also offered me the flexibility of working from my home office.

In the early days:

When I first came into the profession in the 60s, the primary skills needed to become a technical writer were:

A college degree—preferably in English Studies or Journalism
Ability to write well and convey information to the intended audience in an easily understood manner
Ability to create your own graphics, if necessary
Attention to detail
Good interviewing and listening skills
Ability to interact with engineers, scientists, illustrators, typists (we wrote our drafts in long-hand back then), and printers
Patience (turnaround times were really slow)

How things have changed:

The worlds of communications and technology have evolved dramatically in the past two decades. Advances in computer and communications technologies have allowed technical writers to work from almost anywhere—home, office, even on the road—as well as interact with people from around the globe. As a result, the modern day technical writer must be able to assimilate complex information quickly and be comfortable working with people from diverse professional and cultural backgrounds. Their ability to work under pressure and in a variety of work settings is also essential.

In addition to excellent writing and communication skills, technical writers must now be able to express ideas clearly and logically in a variety of media. They need to be proficient with electronic publishing, graphics, and sound and video production. Also needed is knowledge of computer software for combining online text with graphics, audio, video, and animation, as well as the ability to manage large, complex, and interconnected files.
6 Skill Sets Every Modern Day Technical Writer Needs to Succeed

Like any profession, becoming a technical writer requires a mastery of certain skill sets. The following is a sampling of what a modern day technical writer needs to bring to the table to be a successful technical communicator.

Write clearly, concisely, and precisely. The ability to write well and convey information to the intended audience in an easily understood manner is still the primary prerequisite.

Be proficient in using the tools of the trade. Knowing your way around computer systems is a given. You also need to be able to learn quickly and become proficient using computer applications associated with producing your documentation such as Adobe FrameMaker, MS Word, MadCap Flare, RoboHelp, Photoshop, and Illustrator.

Be able to select the proper support visuals needed to enhance the written word. To a growing extent, the technical writer needs an appreciation for graphics and formatting as well as illustration skills. For many organizations, the technical writer must collaborate with the subject matter expert (SME) to obtain engineering drawings and the illustrator to design and develop the needed support graphics. Technical writers are often responsible for taking their own photographs too.

Have a natural curiosity for exploring things technical and learning how they work. The technical skill of a technical writer depends greatly on the subject matter, product, or service that requires documentation. Most writers expand their knowledge through experience in the profession or by taking specialized technical writing training.

Know how to ask questions and learn from the answers. Interacting with SMEs is one the most overlooked skills. You have to be part journalist and part investigative reporter. And, you can’t be too proud to ask the “dumb technical questions” that make engineers do double-takes. When setting up an interview or review, consider the personalities and preferences of your SMEs. Make sure you have all your questions ready up front and that you understand the answers before you leave the meeting. If a follow up is needed, schedule it then.

Refine the art of patience and persistence. Unless you have patience, you’ll never make it as a technical communicator. I hate to say it, but most SMEs tend to drag their feet when it comes to a timely turnaround for reviews. It’s a delicate balance, but with a little persistence, they can be trained.

Technical writers and communicators add tremendous value to a documentation project and to the organization that employs them. They make information more useable and accessible to those who need that information, and in doing so, they advance the goals of the organization.

Which Skill Sets are Important for a Technical Writer?

Like any profession, becoming a technical writer requires a mastery of a certain set of skills. This skill set used to involve primarily writing and illustration skills, as large manuals for print publication were the standard in the profession. The worlds of communications and technology have evolved dramatically in the latter part of the 20th century and the early part of this century. How has that evolution affected the skill set required for a technical writer?

Writing skills – For a technical writer, writing skills can never be overlooked. The technical writer still needs to write in a clear and concise manner and to be able to convey information appropriately for a variety of audiences.
Technical skills – The technical skill set of a technical writer depends greatly on the subject matter, product or service that requires documentation. Hardware and software documentation differ in the skills that the technical writer needs to bring to the table. Additionally, pharmaceuticals and other manufacturing industries have specific requirements that translate into knowledge the technical writer must have. A technical writer asked to document a developer’s guide may need to have a pretty good handle on specific programming languages, while a technical writer tasked with documenting a weapons defense system might need a high degree of engineering comprehension as well as a solid knowledge of government documentation standards.
Tools skills – Needless to say, a technical writer needs to know his or her way around computer systems, since they are used to produce documentation in a variety of formats. Specific tool knowledge, such as Adobe FrameMaker, MS Word, MadCap Flare, RoboHelp, and even PageMaker and Quark really depends on the tools the organization has come to rely on in order to produce its technical documentation. However, technical writers are accustomed to learning – it’s really what they do, and most are capable of learning a new tool quickly and efficiently.
Interviewing and listening skills – Technical writers need to know how to ask questions. They also need to know who is the best person to approach and they need to have a feel for the varying personalities and preferences of the people – the subject matter experts, or SMEs – in order to know how best to approach them. Once the technical writer has found the appropriate SME to approach, strong listening skills will be required to capture the information necessary and to know which follow-up questions need to be answered.
Design skills – An appreciation for the visual can be an important part of the skill set of a technical writer. Even the earliest technical documents didn’t consist of just the written word. To a growing extent the technical writer needs an appreciation for graphics and formatting as well as illustration skills. Depending on the needs of the organization, these skills may only need to be rudimentary or they may need to be very advanced.
Usability and testing skills – A technical writer may also be asked to take an active role in usability and testing. Even if not asked to take a role, the technical writer knows that validation of the documentation is important – the confirmation that the product works the way it is documented to work. In some organizations, the technical writer is an important part of the User Experience team.

These skills are just a small part of what a technical writer brings to the table. The skill sets of a technical writer vary widely, depending on the technical writer’s experience and educational background.

What is Technical Writing?

Technical writing is sometimes defined as simplifying the complex.  Inherent in such a concise and deceptively simple definition is a whole range of skills and characteristics that address nearly every field of human endeavor at some level.  A significant subset of the broader field of technical communication, technical writing involves communicating complex information to those who need it to accomplish some task or goal.

Oxford Dictionaries Online (ODO) provides four definitions for the word technical, all of which relate to the profession of technical writing:

of or relating to a particular subject, art, or craft, or its techniques
of, involving, or concerned with applied and industrial sciences
resulting from mechanical failure
according to a strict application or interpretation of the law or rules

With these definitions in mind, it’s easy to see that technical writing has been around as long as there have been written languages.  Modern references to technical writing and technical communications as a profession begin around the time of World War I as technical developments in warfare, industry and telecommunications began to evolve more rapidly.  Although many people today think of technical writing as creating manuals for computers and software, the practice of technical writing takes place in any field or industry where complex ideas, concepts, processes or procedures need to be communicated.  In fact, the US Bureau of Labor Statistics defines technical writers as those who “…put technical information into easily understandable language. They work primarily in information-technology-related industries, coordinating the development and dissemination of technical content for a variety of users; however, a growing number of technical communicators are using technical content to resolve business communications problems in a diversifying number of industries.”
The Goal of Technical Writing

Good technical writing results in relevant, useful and accurate information geared to specifically targeted audiences in order to enable a set of actions on the part of the audience in pursuit of a defined goal.  The goal may be using a software application, operating industrial equipment, preventing accidents, safely consuming a packaged food, assessing a medical condition, complying with a law, coaching a sports team, or any of an infinite range of possible activities.  If the activity requires expertise or skill to perform, then technical writing is a necessary component.

Only a small proportion of technical writing is actually aimed at the general consumer audience. Businesses and organizations deliver vast amounts of technical writing to explain internal procedures, design and produce products, implement processes, sell products and services to other businesses, or define policies. The leading professional association representing technical writing, Society for Technical Communication, hosts a number of special interest groups for these different aspects of the profession.
Technical Writing Categories

Technical writing comprises the largest segment of technical communications.  Technical writers work together with editors, graphic designers and illustrators, document specialists, content managers, instructional designers, trainers, and analysts to produce an amazing variety of deliverables, including:
Contracts     Online and embedded help     Requirements specifications
Customer Service scripts     Policy documents     Simulations
Demonstrations     Process flows     Training course materials
Design documents     Project documents     User manuals
FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)     Product catalogs     Warning labels
How-to videos     Product packaging     Web-based Training
Instructions     Proposals     Websites
Knowledge base articles     Release notes     White papers
Reference guides

Technical writing follows a development lifecycle that often parallels the product development lifecycle of an organization:

Identification of needs, audience(s), and scope
Planning
Research & content development
Testing / review and revision
Delivery / production
Evaluation and feedback
Disposition (revision, archiving, or destruction)

Technical Writing and Integrated Technical Communications

Enormous changes have occurred in the field of technical writing in the last 20 years, particularly with how technical content is researched, and how it is produced and delivered.  As a result, more organizations are developing integrated technical communications to effectively manage the information that must be communicated. They also build a content management strategy that encompasses delivery of technical, marketing and promotion, internal and other communications messages between the organization and its customers, suppliers, investors and employees.

Job Duties

Technical writers typically do the following:
Determine the needs of end users of technical documentation
Study product samples and talk with product designers and developers
Work with technical staff to make products easier to use and thus need fewer instructions
Organize and write supporting documents for products
Use photographs, drawings, diagrams, animation, and charts that increase users’ understanding
Select appropriate medium for message or audience, such as manuals or online videos
Standardize content across platforms and media
Gather usability feedback from customers, designers, and manufacturers
Revise documents as new issues arise
Career Overview

Technical writers, also called technical communicators, prepare instruction manuals, journal articles, and other supporting documents to communicate complex and technical information more easily. They also develop, gather, and disseminate technical information among customers, designers, and manufacturers.
Duties

Technical writers typically do the following:

Determine the needs of end users of technical documentation
Study product samples and talk with product designers and developers
Work with technical staff to make products easier to use and thus need fewer instructions
Organize and write supporting documents for products
Use photographs, drawings, diagrams, animation, and charts that increase users’ understanding
Select appropriate medium for message or audience, such as manuals or online videos
Standardize content across platforms and media
Gather usability feedback from customers, designers, and manufacturers
Revise documents as new issues arise

Technical writers create operating instructions, how-to manuals, assembly instructions, and “frequently asked questions” pages to help technical support staff, consumers, and other users within a company or an industry. After a product is released, technical writers also may work with product liability specialists and customer service managers to improve the end-user experience through product design changes.

Technical writers often work with computer hardware engineers, scientists, computer support specialists, and software developers to manage the flow of information among project workgroups during development and testing. Therefore, technical writers must be able to understand complex information and communicate the information to people with diverse professional backgrounds.

Applying their knowledge of the user of the product, technical writers may serve as part of a team conducting usability studies to help improve the design of a product that is in the prototype stage. Technical writers may conduct research on their topics through personal observation, library and Internet research, and discussions with technical specialists.

Some technical writers help write grant proposals for research scientists and institutions.

Increasingly, technical information is being delivered online, and technical writers are using the interactive technologies of the Web to blend text, graphics, multidimensional images, sound, and video.
Work Environment

Technical writers held about 49,500 jobs in 2012. The industries employing the most technical writers in 2012 were as follows:
Professional, scientific, and technical services     38%
Manufacturing     17
Information     12
Administrative and support and waste management and remediation
services     6

Most technical writers work in offices. They routinely work with engineers and other technology experts to manage the flow of information throughout an organization.

Although most technical writers are employed directly by the companies that use their services, some work on a freelance basis and are paid per assignment. Either they are self-employed, or they work for a technical consulting firm and are given specific short-term or recurring assignments, such as writing about a new product or coordinating the work and communication among different offices to keep a project on track.

Technical writing jobs are usually concentrated in locations with information technology or scientific and technical research companies, such as California and Texas.
Work Schedules

Technical writers may be expected to work evenings and weekends to coordinate with those in other time zones or to meet deadlines. Most work full time.
Education and Training

A college degree is usually required for a position as a technical writer. In addition, experience with a technical subject, such as computer science, Web design, or engineering, is important.
Education

Employers generally prefer candidates with a bachelor’s degree in journalism, English, or communications. Many technical writing jobs require both a degree and knowledge in a specialized field, such as engineering, computer science, or medicine. Web design experience also is helpful because of the growing use of online technical documentation.
Work Experience

Some technical writers begin their careers not as writers, but as specialists or research assistants in a technical field. By developing technical communication skills, they eventually assume primary responsibilities for technical writing. In small firms, beginning technical writers may work on projects right away; in larger companies with more standard procedures, beginners may observe experienced technical writers and interact with specialists before being assigned projects.
Training

Many technical writers need short-term on-the-job training to adapt to a different style of writing.
Licenses, Certifications, and Registrations

Some associations, including the Society for Technical Communication, offers certification for technical writers. In addition, the American Medical Writers Association offers extensive continuing education programs and certificates in medical writing. These certificates are available to professionals in the medical and allied scientific communication fields.

Although not mandatory, certification can demonstrate competence and professionalism, making candidates more attractive to employers. It can also increase a technical writer’s opportunities for advancement.
Advancement

Prospects for advancement generally include working on more complex projects and leading or training junior staff. Some technical writers become self-employed and produce work on a freelance basis.
Important Qualities

Communication skills. Technical writers must be able to take complex, technical information and translate it for colleagues and consumers who have nontechnical backgrounds.

Detail oriented. Technical writers create detailed instructions for others to follow. As a result, they must be detailed and precise at every step so that the instructions can be useful.

Imagination. Technical writers must be able to think about a procedure or product in the way that a person without technical experience would think about it.

Teamwork. Technical writers must be able to work well with others. They are almost always part of a team: with other writers; with designers, editors, and illustrators; and with the technical people whose information they are explaining.

Technical skills. Technical writers must be able to understand and then explain highly technical information. Many technical writers need a background in engineering or computer science in order to do this.

Writing skills. Technical communicators must have excellent writing skills to be able to explain technical information clearly.
Pay

The median annual wage for technical writers was $65,500 in May 2012. The median wage is the wage at which half the workers in an occupation earned more than that amount and half earned less. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $38,700 and the highest 10 percent earned more than $101,660.

In May 2012, the median annual wages for technical writers in the top four industries in which these writers worked were as follows:
Information     $70,460
Administrative and support and waste management and
remediation services     67,140
Professional, scientific, and technical services     66,440
Manufacturing     64,170

Technical writers may be expected to work evenings and weekends to coordinate with those in other time zones or to meet deadlines. Most work full time.
Job Outlook

Employment of technical writers is projected to grow 15 percent from 2012 to 2022, faster than the average for all occupations.

Employment growth will be driven by the continuing expansion of scientific and technical products and by growth in Web-based product support. Growth and change in the high-technology and electronics industries will result in a greater need for those who can write instruction manuals and communicate information clearly to users.

Professional, scientific, and technical services firms will continue to grow rapidly and should be a good source of new jobs even as the occupation finds acceptance in a broader range of industries, including data processing, hosting, and related services.
Job Prospects

Job opportunities, especially for applicants with technical skills, are expected to be good. The growing reliance on technologically sophisticated products in the home and the workplace and the increasing complexity of medical and scientific information needed for daily living will create many new job opportunities for technical writers.

In addition, the need to replace workers who retire over the coming decade will result in some job openings. However, there will be competition among freelance technical writers.

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