What is a Technical or Scientific Writer and how do I become one?
Do you enjoy writing? Are you good with facts and detailed information? Do you like researching stuff on the net?
Technical or scientific writers create different technical documents like journal articles, government proposals and instructional manuals or textbooks. They use simple and user-friendly language and terminology so they can communicate complex and technical information to readers. Aside from text, technical writers use photographs, drawings, diagrams and charts to make the data more understandable.
Technical writing involves researching and organising complex scientific information. As a technical or scientific writer you would need to first determine the reading audience of your writing. To do this, you may chat with technical staff in order to understand how products work. You would also be responsible for choosing what type of media is appropriate for the information such as printed form, video, e-learning or online media.
Being a technical or scientific writer is not just about creating content. It would involve editing text and standardising documents across media formats. You may also need to update existing manuals and documents, test materials with user groups, gather feedback and make adjustments to improve content.
To be a technical or scientific writer requires a high level of accuracy, excellent research and analysis skills and the ability to explain technical concepts in a non-technical, easy to understand way. Because of the volume of information and details that you would be working with you need to be methodical and logical in the way you organise information. Furthermore, you would usually have deadlines to meet so you need to be efficient and effective in the way you manage your time.
Hours and conditions:
Technical or scientific writers usually work a standard number of hours per week. Self employed or freelance technical writers have the opportunity to work from home while those who are employed by a business may need to report to an office. Expect to spend a lot of your time using a computer if you choose to work as a technical writer.
How to Become a Scientific or Technical Writer: Qualifications
No formal qualifications are required to become a technical writer but some technical writing jobs may require both a degree and a solid background in a specialised field like engineering, computer science or medicine. You can greatly develop your skills through constant practice and experience on the job.
You may improve your employment prospects if you have some associated formal training like a VET qualification in mass communication, journalism, professional writing and editing or a bachelor’s degree in a related area. You would need to gain your senior secondary school certificate or equivalent if you want to take up these courses. English would be an appropriate subject to study before starting your tertiary education.
To look at courses that will help you find a role as a technical or scientific writer, check out:
The job outlook for technical writers is positive and likely to grow. Employment growth for this profession will be driven by the steady expansion of scientific and technical products. Work opportunities are expected to be good especially if you have combined technical and writing skills.