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Becoming a technical writer

Check these Web resources for learning about tech writing. Watch job descriptions carefully, however–the title of tech writer is one of the most amorphous ones in IT. Becoming a technical writer These Web resources will help anyone wanting to learn more about technical writing. Watch job descriptions carefully, however–the title of tech writer is one of the most amorphous ones in IT.

Dear Molly: I was an English major in college and now I am stuck in a dead-end job writing press releases and marketing mishmash for a small public relations firm. I like computers and want to start moving into the field in some way. A friend said something to me about becoming a technical writer–can you tell me what a technical writer does?

Molly says: The job title of “technical writer” is one of the most amorphous ones used in the IT industry. I have seen tech writers who write software documentation, which is a fair application of the title. I have also seen tech writers who write code, and tech writers who do page layouts for hardware manuals! So, read the job description carefully before you apply for a tech writer position to make sure it primarily involves writing.

That said, technical writing can be a very satisfying job for someone who loves paying close attention to the smallest of details and likes learning about and explaining technical subjects. For you, it would make a nice change of pace from writing those press releases. It’s also something you could do in your spare time to pick up some extra dollars.

I think that your English degree and your experience in writing marketing materials will help you become a tech writer in a short period of time. What you will need is some more information about what tech writing is (and should be) and some experience. Here are two Web sites for starting on your background research: How to Become a Technical Writer, and Becoming a Technical Writer in Three Easy Steps.

Since you are employed full-time, you might want to check out an online course on the subject. Here’s a link to one called Professional Technical Writing offered by Online Learning.

Molly Joss also writes the monthly Career Advisor column for ComputerUser magazine. Ask a career-related question at [email protected]

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