It’s no secret that technical writers are highly sought after. The ability to write well, do independent research, and be curious about STEM and technical fields are invaluable to any company. In a field with an unemployment rate of only 3.1%, it might be your time to break in. There are many types of writers in the area. All are incredibly viable, but what about the IT technical writer?
What is an IT Technical Writer?
This will be a brief introduction for those who are looking to learn more about IT technical writers. Technical writers, also called technical communicators, write and transcribe company documents. That means you could be writing anything between manuals, reference guides, or white papers. Often, technical writers will specialize in particular documents, understanding how to write everything, but becoming specifically well versed in one subject like system documentation or administration documentation.
Technical writers are hired based on their communication skills and clarity in their writing. Companies do expect a four-year degree in English or an adjacent major, but above all else, they look for your ability to understand and clearly write what they need at the moment. The same goes for the IT technical writer.
What Makes an IT Technical Writer?
IT technical writers specialize in writing documentation for, well, companies that deal in information technology. The beauty of being one is your ability to write for whatever field you are interested in. IT writing jobs come in all shapes and sizes. They cover all kinds of markets and specialties and could be right for your interests.
You do not need to be an expert in any of these areas. After a four-year liberal arts degree, there is no need to become a scientist or software engineer. The ability of the writer to research and contact experts in those fields is all that is needed to become successful. With the right mindset and work ethic, becoming an IT technical writer can be a valuable career.
What IT Fields and Markets are Available?
Being such a new and constantly innovating area of study, information technology is always expanding its already copious variety of fields of study. Though vast, there are some fields that have become front runners for technical writers’ interests.
These fields might include:
As the name suggests, cybersecurity deals with the protection of entities from internet-born attacks. As attacks become more advanced, so must cyber security experts. Types of security include cloud, endpoint, network, mobile, and IoT security. It is imperative that those who wish to work in cyber security should familiarize themselves with these terms and other types of security risks in order to write about them well.
2. Software Development
Software development is the field dedicated to the process of creating, refining, and the designing of software. It is the coding created for the sole purpose of telling computers what to do. Different types of software development include system software, programming software, and application software. Good or bad software can mean the difference between an amazing or disastrous launch for many products, as it is heavily relied on to keep things like security features, safety features, and core functions working consistently throughout the product’s life cycle. This is truly the building block field of IT.
3. Web Development
Similar to the idea of software development, web development is specific to the production of websites. This may include jobs such as database management, web programming, and web design. Just as you are reading this article on a website, one of the greatest feats done by web designers is making websites easy to explore and informative. Additionally, your ability as a writer to keep information easy to read and flowing is imperative to any good website.
4. Networks and Systems
Networks and systems are all about communication, literally. Not only do professionals need to communicate between different divisions within the same company to make sure the system and network are online, but networks and systems are made in order for worker communication. Although you will not be in charge of these systems, technical writers deal with the documents relating to construction network hardware and troubleshooting.
Though given bad press in the last decade thanks to companies such as Facebook and Cambridge Analytica, the data sector has become a burgeoning business. Businesses with an online presence have so much user data that it can be hard to figure out what to do with all of it. Particularly, writers might write documents based on sorting through all of that data and how to properly implement it.
6. Cloud Computing
Unlike the latter entry, the cloud more deals with data storage rather than data sifting. Cloud computing not only entails how to create clouds but how to implement them within a company’s network. Writers will need to get familiar with servers and the storage factor of cloud computing.
7. AI Development
Although a fairly new development within IT, AI development is a rapidly growing industry. Machine learning is used for many tools we use daily like auto-correct, auto-fill entries, and now even the creation of art! IT technical writers are not responsible for feeding AI data, but they are responsible for documentation on how to implement machine learning and the maintenance of AI.
8. Computer Support
It’s a bit broad, but it’s still important. Computer support is a more generalized field that deals with any manner of the above-listed fields. Because of the lack of specialization, it is important for a technical writer to create manuals and documents that are easy to understand by both experts and laymen.
It is also possible that during your career you might work and become proficient in many of these specific fields. These companies range from public to private, and some might be contracted out to various government agencies!
What Would You be Writing About as an IT Technical Writer?
Since there are many different markets within the tech industry, there is a good chance that you will not be writing the same documents that other IT technical writers will. There are some similarities, but because of the nature of the sector in question, there is a certain amount of specialization required.
Here are some common documents that you will have to deal with:
1. Release Notes
Generally written during research and development or after the product has been launched, release notes detail certain additions to released software. This could cover anywhere from bug fixes to general added features or even just a description of what the software does. This is more client-side, so remember that you are writing these for the customer’s sake!
2. Application Programming Interface (API)
Within programming, API allows for two different pieces of software to communicate and work with each other. Therefore, API documents allow clients to understand how your API specifically works. Though usually found along with other documentation about the product, application programming interface documents can also be readily found on Q&A websites, blog posts, and forums for the customer’s convenience.
3. Troubleshooting Document
This might be one of the few times technical writers are allowed to use complex jargon. Troubleshooting documents are the first line of support for clients. They detail any problem that can be foreseen or that has occurred in order to make sure that everything is in working order. Additionally, there should be detailed explanations of any technical jargon that the client is unlikely to know.
4. Technical Requirements Document
A technical requirements document is an umbrella term for many different types of requirements documents. They generally tell the user and the developer certain aspects of the product that are required to be there for it to function. This also branches into market requirements documents and user requirements documents. The former was created for marketing purposes, as it details target audiences, why customers would want the product, and which products are seen as competition, while the latter details specifically what the software is and isn’t capable of. In the case of the user requirements document, it becomes part of the contractual agreement between the developer and the customer.
5. Software Development Kit (SDK)
These documents are complete sets of APIs that allow the user to perform any action needed in the creation of applications. Furthermore, it contains other tools needed to develop the platform the software is made for. It is important to distinguish that all SDKs contain APIs, but not all APIs are SDKs.
6. Knowledge Base Documentation
This is basically a how-to guide for users. Knowledge base documentation is a, usually, online library that answers frequently asked questions and troubleshooting documents. The idea is to take care of the client’s needs without directing them to tech support for additional help except as a last resort.
7. Standard Operations Procedures
Standard operations procedures cover instructions on how to safely and correctly use the product according to standard workplace regulations. This documentation covers everything from regulation compliance, operations scheduling, and quick onboarding of new users.
IT Technical Writer: The Solution You’ve Been Waiting For
IT technical writers can cover a wide variety of industries and types of documentation. Developing clear and concise documentation with technical language and accessible instructions is the name of the game. To take your business to the next level, consider working with one!
How Essential Data Corporation Can Help
Whether you need a single technical writer for a brief project or a team of consultants to produce a complete line of documentation, the quality of our work is guaranteed for you. Our clients work closely with an Engagement Manager from one of our 30 local offices for the entire length of your project at no additional cost. Contact us at (800) 221-0093 or firstname.lastname@example.org to get started.
Written by Dominic Acquista