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What is Technical Writing? How To Become a Technical Writer?

Updated: Jun 12

Writing is a pretty lucrative career if you figure out two things. One, whom to write for. Two, what to write.

One of the best-paid writing forms is technical writing. Everyone from small businesses to large corporations needs technical writers. Companies make products or services using their technical prowess but then need someone to simplify it for their customers.

Most customers aren’t interested in what goes on behind the scenes. They want to know how a product or a service helps them.

This is where technical writing comes in.

And that’s what this blog is about. It’s everything you need to know about technical writing and how to become a technical writer.

Let’s get started.

What is technical writing? How to become a technical writer?

What is technical writing?

Technical writing is a type of business writing that focuses on simplifying complex topics and conveys important information in a clear manner. It is a discipline primarily associated with the production of technical, business, and scientific documents such as user manuals, guides, FAQs, reports, and white papers.

As industries grow more complex and interconnected, the need for accurate, unambiguous, and accessible documentation rises. Technical writers serve as the bridge between experts and users, ensuring that complex ideas and procedures can be understood and utilized by a wide range of audiences.

Types of technical writing

Broadly speaking, technical writing falls into a few primary categories, each of which has its unique characteristics and purpose.

Manuals and guides

User manuals and guides, for instance, are perhaps the most familiar examples of technical writing. These documents, often accompanying products or software applications, provide a step-by-step walkthrough of how to use, maintain, or troubleshoot a product or service.

Help documents

Another common type of technical writing is Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) or help documents. These are designed to address common queries or issues that users may encounter, offering swift solutions and preventing potential user frustration. FAQs and help documents streamline the user experience, making them invaluable tools for customer support.

Technical reports

Technical reports and white papers also fall within the realm of technical writing. These are often used to convey complex information, such as research findings or new technological developments, in an understandable format.

While these types of documents are often more detailed and dense than user manuals or FAQs, they share the same primary goal: to make complex information accessible and understandable.

The objective of technical writing

The fundamental difference between technical writing and other forms of writing, such as creative or persuasive writing, lies in its objective. Technical writing's primary aim is not to entertain, persuade, or express personal viewpoints.

Instead, it's all about providing clear, accurate, and easy-to-follow information to the reader, often with a practical purpose in mind.

A host of industries heavily rely on technical writing. In the field of information technology, technical writers create software documentation, user manuals, and help guides.

In engineering and manufacturing, they produce assembly instructions, safety protocols, and maintenance manuals.

In medicine and pharmaceuticals, technical writers are instrumental in creating patient information leaflets, research reports, and regulatory documents.

The burgeoning tech sector has significantly increased demand for technical writing, but it's not confined to high-tech industries.

Any field that requires clear communication of complex information—be it finance, law, government, or education—relies on the skills of technical writers.

Even if you don’t want to do technical writing, it’s a fantastic way to diversify your income as a freelance writer.

How to become a technical writer?


Earn a bachelor's degree. The field of study can vary, but degrees in English, communications, journalism, or a technical field relevant to your interests are usually good bets.

If you don’t have a degree, don’t worry, at all. A lot of technical writers don’t have degrees. Instead, they have real-life experience to make up for it.

How do you get writing jobs if you have no experience? We have an exhaustive blog that you can read here. But for now, a quick summary:

Well, you’ll have to work for lower prices, initially. Get on platforms like Up Work and Fiverr. The pay won’t be great and deadlines will be quite harsh. It’ll take a lot of effort. But you will eventually get jobs.

Do them well and you can add them to your portfolio. Once you’ve done that, you can move on to better-paying clients.

Skills Development:

Cultivate the necessary technical writing skills. We’ll look at this in a moment but suffice to say that exceptional writing skills, the ability to communicate clearly, an understanding of relevant technical concepts, and the ability to present information well are important.

Gain expertise in a specific technical field and consider acquiring a certification in technical writing. Both will demonstrate your competence and commitment to potential employers.

This is another thing that a lot of writers without a degree choose to do. A certification may not get you the best jobs on its own but it’ll help you understand the jargon better. It’ll help you understand the language that is used in the world of technical writing.

Now, if you do a highly specialized certification, you won’t get as many clients but you will get high-paying jobs within that niche. This is another way to approach technical writing — get highly skilled in a niche and that’ll bring in high-paying jobs.

Build a Portfolio:

When all is said and done, you need experience. You need a fantastic portfolio that will do all your marketing for you. You need jobs that you show off to potential clients.

You get most freelance writing gigs on the basis of your portfolio. If you have a great portfolio, employers will seek you out. And that’s why it’s important to do those low-paying freelance gigs initially. It’ll help you create a portfolio that you can show off.


All the best jobs that I’ve got are because of my network. Grow your network and your income will grow with it. It’s a little-known fact but most jobs are never advertised. They’re never advertised because the hiring is done based on recommendations and personal connections.

Simply put, you need to create a brand around yourself (you can learn how to do that here).

Building a brand around yourself and knowing the right people is the most reliable way to get the best writing jobs.

So, get on LinkedIn, get on Twitter, and start marketing yourself.

You can learn how to create the perfect writer’s LinkedIn profile here.

Technical writing skills:

Apart from common writing skills, there are a few skills that are specific to technical writing.

Excellent writing skills

This one’s obvious but has to be mentioned. You should be proficient in writing, particularly in crafting clear, concise, and grammatically correct content. Given the informational nature of technical writing, the ability to write well-structured, coherent, and error-free documents is a non-negotiable requirement.

Relevant knowledge:

You don’t need to be a doctor to get into medical writing. You don’t have to be a lawyer to get into legal writing. But, knowledge in a specific field is a key hard skill. You have to know the language of the field you’re writing about.

Depending on the industry you're writing for, whether it's software development, engineering, healthcare, or finance, having a strong grasp of industry-specific terminologies and concepts is essential.

Again, you don’t have to be an expert in the field but you should know enough about the field to communicate information accurately.

Technical writing formats

Familiarity with technical writing tools is also vital. These could include word processing software, desktop publishing tools, graphics programs, and content management systems.

Moreover, proficiency in markup languages like HTML and XML can be beneficial, especially when working in software-related fields.

Alongside hard skills, a suite of soft skills—less tangible and harder to quantify—are equally important. These include critical thinking to understand complex information, problem-solving to figure out the best way to communicate it, and attention to detail to ensure accuracy and consistency.

Soft skills

Perhaps the most important soft skill is the ability to simplify complex information. This involves distilling technical concepts into content that's accessible and understandable to the intended audience, whether they're industry professionals or everyday users. It's an art that requires a deep understanding of both the subject matter and the audience.

In addition, good technical writers need strong interpersonal skills. You'll often work with subject matter experts, project managers, developers, and other team members, so being able to communicate and collaborate effectively is crucial.

Clarity in writing

Clarity is paramount in technical writing. A document that cannot be understood serves no purpose. To ensure clarity, technical writers need to articulate complex information in a simple, easy-to-grasp manner. They should avoid jargon, unless writing for a specific audience that understands such terminology, and use plain language whenever possible.


Accuracy is another crucial aspect. Misinformation can lead to confusion, incorrect usage, or even dangerous situations, especially when dealing with technical equipment or processes. Therefore, it's essential to ensure every piece of information in the document is correct. Fact-checking and reviewing are inherent parts of a technical writer's job.


Brevity, or being concise, is the art of saying a lot using very few words. A technical document is not a place for verbosity or intricate prose. The aim is to deliver the required information as quickly and directly as possible. However, brevity should not compromise clarity. While it's essential to be concise, ensuring the information is still comprehensible is paramount.


Consistency ties in with all the other principles. Using consistent terminology, formatting, and style makes a document easier to read and understand. It also adds to the overall professional appearance of the document, reflecting positively on the company or entity it represents.

In addition to these key characteristics, understanding the audience is fundamental in technical writing. The language, tone, and level of detail should all be tailored to the audience's knowledge and needs.

If the audience is a group of experts, the use of industry-specific jargon and advanced concepts might be acceptable. However, if the audience is the general public, you must simplify complex ideas without losing the core information.

Complementing text with visual aids can significantly enhance the effectiveness of technical writing. Diagrams, graphs, and other visual elements can convey information that might be challenging to describe with words alone.

They also offer a break in text-heavy content, improving overall readability. Visual aids are particularly useful in step-by-step guides or when explaining complex processes or systems.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What is the purpose of technical writing?

The purpose of technical writing is to convey complex technical information to the audience in a way that they would understand. Of course, some technical writing is aimed at experts themselves, in which case, the purpose of technical writing is to simply inform the audience.

Who uses technical writing?

Any company that has a product or a service that’s built on a specific technology uses technical writing. Examples include software companies, computer hardware companies, robotics companies, SaaS companies, cloud computing companies, etc.

In essence, any company which needs to convey technical concepts to common people uses technical writers to do it for them.

How much do technical writers make?

The national median pay for technical writers is around $78,000 in the US.

This essentially means that there are plenty of technical writer jobs that pay more than $100,000 per annum in the US.

What are some examples of technical writing?

White papers, help guides, tech how-tos, and user manuals are just some prominent examples of technical writing.

How to become a technical writer with no experience?

You will have to write for low pay. That’s essentially what you’ll have to do. If you want high-paying jobs, you need experience.

So, start with low-paying jobs. Get the experience you need. Build a portfolio and use it to get high-paying technical writer jobs. You can read a more comprehensive guide here.

Is there a demand for technical writers?

Yes, there is. The world, in general, is becoming more and more reliant on technology. There are more technical products and services today than ever before. This means that there’s a demand for writers who can communicate technical concepts to the common folk.

In fact, the US Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts that the technical writing industry is going to grow by 6% every year between 2021 and 2031.


Technical writing can be a great career option if you’re a writer who’s also interested in tech. The pay is good and if you choose to become a freelance technical writer, there’s also a lot of flexibility in the job.

If you are looking for high-paying remote technical writer jobs, make sure you check out Simple Job Listings. All jobs posted on Simple Job Listings are remote, most pay amazingly well, and a significant number of jobs we post aren’t listed anywhere else.

Visit Simple Job Listings and find your dream writing job. Good luck!

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