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Posted at: Jan 9, 2019, 7:51 AM; last updated: Jan 9, 2019, 7:51 AM (IST)CAREER HOTLINE

Try your hand at technical writing

Try your hand at technical writing
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Pervin Malhotra

Q. I’ve done BSc (Physics) and although I enjoy reading about science, I’m not particularly interested in pursuing an MSc or an equivalent academic qualification in this line. Instead, I have good communication skills and enjoy writing. Would technical writing be a good field for me? — Gauri Seth

A. Why not! For the simple reason that just about every product we buy — be it computer software and hardware, cars, electronic stuff, medicine, even toy and games come with instructions. This could be in the form of a user manual, a maintenance manual, catalogue or assembling instructions etc. 

This information not only allows consumers to use and maintain products easily and safely, but also protects manufacturers from being sued if it is ambiguous or fails to explain the correct usage. 

It’s the technical writer who organises and presents this information in a simple, logical and user-friendly manner that can be understood even by a lay person. This basically involves simplifying the product information and breaking down complex procedures and unfamiliar technical jargon into logical and easily understandable steps so that there are no gaps in communication between those who develop the product and those who use it.

Technical writers are now referred to as ‘Technical Communicators’ because the job involves much more than writing i.e. creating electronic documents, layouts, diagrams, charts and design for web-based communication.

If you’re curious about developments in science and possess a basic understanding of computer hardware, operating systems, software applications and programming languages, this just might be the field for you. 

Two of the most essential requirements of an aspiring Technical Writer are: excellent writing skills and in-depth knowledge of the product you’re writing about. These make this career possible to pursue for even people from non-technical backgrounds. Particularly, when it comes to writing specs and user manuals for goods or services that may have a technical underpinning but are meant for the lay user who is not necessarily techno-savvy. Even people with a background in pharmacy or life sciences can find gainful opportunities in the pharma, healthcare and food manufacturing sectors

Five to ten years down the line, your career path could lead you towards content strategy, content marketing, product management, and business analysis. You could be leading the content management team in various content efforts (business/technical writing, proposal writing, content marketing), or could be managing products in publishing or e-learning.

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