Writers who write about software for corporations that produce software products, such as Microsoft, IBM, SAS, Photoshop, AutoDesk and ORACLE, are technical writers. There are many specialty areas in this career path including writing documentation for medical, architectural and clinical data management software. If you would like to start writing about software right away, check out a site that is used by companies that hire software bloggers.
Many software companies prefer employees with Computer Science degrees, and as far as I’m aware, Calculus is required even though you are unlikely to use it unless you work in engineering or physics. If you are feeling a bit uncomfortable with this concept, take a course at your local community college.
While most jobs writing about software require a technical degree, some companies may require specific knowledge of other disciplines such as law, biology or chemistry.
If you are new to technical writing, it might be advantageous to take a few courses. UCSC has a wide selection of technical writing courses that will not break the bank and will work with most schedules because they are online. It’s always in your best interest to keep up with technology related to your field.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics shows that technical writers earned median pay of $63,280 per year in 2010. During the year there were 49,500 job openings. The entry level education requirement is a Bachelor’s degree. Expectations of job growth over the 2010-2020 period are average.
Software technical writers create instruction manuals, release documents and test documentation for software products. They also communicate with software developers, testers and the user community to keep documentation clear and current. A complete understanding of the software and outstanding communication skills are a must.
Technical Writing Resources:
The Society of Technical Writers (STC) has some useful resources for industry news, jobs and learning opportunities.
If you are really interested in getting your feet wet, start blogging about software you’re familiar with. Sign up with WriterAccess. You can actually be paid for your efforts and get the opportunity to create a library of writing samples to show to prospective employers for both permanent and freelance opportunities.
Volunteering can help you get some excellent experience that can add to your portfolio. Making the right contacts is also beneficial. I once met an engineer who got a great job at Disney by frequenting a bar popular with other Disney engineers. It never hurts to be creative and persistent.
Linda K is a freelance writer available on WriterAccess, a marketplace where clients and expert writers connect for assignments.