Learn the Career of a Technical Writer
Have you ever considered pursuing a career as a Technical Writer? This interview takes you through the ups and downs you can expect, what it takes to land the job, what you can expect to earn and more. This is a true career story as told to DiversityJobs and is one of many interviews with editors and publishers. I have been working in the market research industry as a technical writer for over three years. A normal day at work includes researching and writing market reports about various industries, mainly composites, thermoplastics, and energy. I also create guides for businesses who are either starting up or are looking to expand into new regions or markets. Many people think that as a technical writer, I spend all day writing incredibly intricate, detailed, and complicated reports; however, some of my projects are as simple as a report about the background of an industry or company. I would rate my happiness at my current job at a six. Not because I find it difficult or because it isn’t what I want to do, but because my current employer does not offer as much variety as I would like. In my three years working with this company, I have only composed so many different reports. Most of them are industry analyses, opportunity evaluations, press releases, and presentations. I would really like to break out of these reports and write with more freedom, really stretching my creative muscles. I would not say that this is my calling in life. I do love to write, but like I said earlier, there is not enough variety for me. I would really like to be a college professor and researcher. While I was in college, I did some teaching here and there and it really helps you understand what you’re passionate about. College is a great place to grow as an individual even if you’re not a student and I would love to go back and teach while continuing to research and write. Many people are shocked to learn that, as a technical writer, I did not get a degree in any of the industries about which I write. It is a common misconception that you need to get a degree in chemical engineering to write reports about composites, but I got a degree in English and Writing. There was a steep learning curve at first, but I feel very comfortable writing about chemicals, energy, and composites. Plus, I always have co-workers who are researching the same thing and I can ask them questions if I need help understanding a particular concept. I actually came into this industry on a whim. I mentioned earlier I did a bit of teaching in college. I was actually aiming to be a high school teacher, but my internship changed my mind and I decided to pursue another career. I started looking for writing and editing jobs because I love research and writing. I just happened to make the right decision! My path took me in a different direction and I’m happy with where I am now. The most important lesson I’ve learned is that the kind of student you are in college is the kind of working adult you will become. Students think that they can cruise through college and become serious when they get a job. The fact is that those habits are really hard to break. I can tell which of my co-workers coasted through college. It is harder for them to manage their time and realize when they are doing their best work or when they need to work harder. Those habits are hard to break. The strangest thing that’s ever happened to me as a technical writer was actually when I was helping the editors get through some reports to be published. Apparently, one of my fellow writers either had not learned about plagiarism in college or did not care that he was stealing someone else’s work. We found that a majority of his reports were copy and pasted from internet articles. I put them straight into a search engine and found whole paragraphs on other websites. It was strange that he thought he could do that and get away with it! There are numerous challenges in working with the production of reports and projects, mainly the fact that so many people look at and evaluate your work. Then, your report gets bounced around between editors and supervisors until it finally comes back to you for rework or to be released. Sometimes the editors and managers actually help you clarify a point of improve the flow of your work. Other times, they will completely butcher a paragraph you were really proud of writing. I will get reports back from editing and the entire meaning is changed because they did not understand what I was trying to say, even though it was right. It can be really frustrating! My job can be very stressful because we have very strict deadlines. I try to stay on top of my work so I am less stressed when deadlines approach. Technical writer career image from Shutterstock
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