Career Path As a Remote Technical Writer: Everything You Need to Know

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Over the past couple of years, the demand for a remote technical writer or any other remote job has increased substantially. The advancement in technology and the coronavirus pandemic has made many organization realize that they can work from anywhere in the world. Various tools and services have been developed to ensure that remote workers can work from any corner of the world. Today, you can easily find employment as a remote technical writer.

However, “remote technical writer” is a broad term. To understand what remote technical writer jobs entail, we'll have to take a closer look from a general perspective at their job description.

Therefore, in this article, we'll give you a detailed description of the remote technical writer's typical roles and responsibilities, their skills/abilities, and the remote technical writer's job qualifications.

What Is the Job of a Remote Technical Writer?

Remote technical writers are professional writers that create documents that explain complex technical information in simple language that can be understood by anyone. Their job is to break down complex technical products into simpler terms so that the end user can understand how to use the product and services. A remote technical writer might create things like an instruction manual, software documentation, description of computer applications, scientific journal articles,  user manuals, product descriptions, reference guides, and other complex information from the comfort of their home or anywhere in the world.

The difference between an onsite technical writer and a remote technical writer is that while an onsite technical writer completes their work in the office, a remote technical writer completes their task remotely or anywhere in the world. As a technical writer, you are supposed to research a particular topic of interest and simplify the industry jargon so that those that are not in the industry can still understand it.

Remote technical writers are either on the staff of a business or organization that maintains a lot of online presence  or writing agency, or they can work independently with different client

Difference Between Technical Writing and Traditional Writing

A technical writer is different from a traditional writer in the sense that a technical writer focuses on simplifying technical information and documentation to appeal to a specific audience while people who write traditionally work on fiction or nonfiction copywriting. A technical writer has to do deep research on the software, products, and documents to have deep knowledge about them. Traditional writer on the other hand does not require as much previous knowledge of a particular topic. That's why a person who writes traditionally can complete their writing assignment within a relatively short amount of time. For example, a traditional content writer can complete a piece of copywriting in only a couple of hours. 

Certifications for Remote Technical Writers

Certifications are very important when it comes to the recruitment process. As a technical writer who works remotely, you need to prove your worth because there are a lot of competitors out there bidding for the same job. One important part you should take note of when searching for remote jobs is that you are not meeting your employers physically. Communication is usually done through email, Zoom, Skype and other online tools used for communications. Your credentials play an important role here because they showcase your skills and achievement as a technical writer.  Certificates are not only for impressing employers, they also help you get promotions (in the case of remote work, more online gigs). 


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How to Get Recognized as A Technical Writer

1. Through Degree

Remote technical writer
Career Path As a Remote Technical Writer: Everything You Need to Know 2

A degree certificate is one of the most recognized types of certification in the entire world. Ideally, a university degree is enough to qualify you as a technical writer. However, you might need to seek additional knowledge by taking online courses and certification. The idea is that if you want to succeed as a technical writer, you should not stop improving yourself. Most relevant degrees include languages, journalism, and linguistics. Furthermore, a background in a technical field such as manufacturing or engineering would be an added advantage.

2. Online Certification

This is another way to improve your skill as a technical writer. Most of these online platforms offer certifications alongside their course. Some of these platforms include Udemy, Udacity, Linkedin, Coursera, Simplilearn, and other online learning platforms.  These platforms offer ways to upscale both hard and soft skills useful for technical writing. People can take courses on grammar, Content creation, content writing, content marketing, and copywriting.

3. Register on LinkedIn

Setting up a profile on LinkedIn and job sites like Fiverr, glassdoor and Upwork can get you recognized by employers and organizations. Furthermore, LinkedIn can also serve as a platform for networking and connecting with industry experts that can serve as a mentor in your technical writing career. Uploading certification, degrees, skills, and experience can also give you an advantage on this platform over other competitions.

4. Through Communities and Forums

There are many communities on LinkedIn and Facebook that remote technical writers can join. This type of community can help you get remote jobs, answers to problems as well as mentorship. Just go on LinkedIn or Twitter search for “technical writers” and follow or join their channel. There are also channels you can join on YouTube.

Certifications for Remote Technical Writer Jobs

Apart from the above, several certifications are recognized by many employers and organizations that certify you as a technical writer. They include; 

1. The Society for Technical Communication

This society or forum provides endless possibilities for technical writers of any level. Through this society, students are exposed to various aspects of technical writing like project management, content development, reviewing and editing, visual communication, project analysis, and more. The certification is in 3 parts which consist of the foundation, practitioner, and expert. Earning a certificate from this organization will give you an edge when it comes to getting a job as a remote technical writer and adding to your curriculum vitae.

2. National Association of Science Writers

This association started as far back as 1934 to share accurate information on science-related facts. The association is open to both scientists and the public to prepare and circulate scientific facts. So if you want to start a career as a technical writer in the science field, then you might consider joining the association.  To join the association, prospects are required to submit five pieces of writing, seek the support of two current NASW members and pay a membership fee. After joining, members will be able to communicate with other writers and share knowledge, get free access to scientific journals and searchable databases, find job leads, attend conferences and seminars, and a lot more.

3. American Medical Writer Association

The American Medical Writer Association offers the opportunity for people that wants to become certified medical writer. Although admission to the association is based on having a medical degree with two years of experience to apply for the certification program.

Some Tools Needed For Remote Technical writer Jobs

As a technical writer, you need to have basic knowledge of some tools that not only help you function as a technical writer but a remote one as well. Here are some tools that make you function effectively as a remote technical writer.

1. Zoom/Skype

A remote technical writer has to have knowledge of zoom or skype for effective communication. Zoom, Skype, and Microsoft teams are video conferencing tools that remote workers use to connect with colleagues, clients, employers, and other relevant people linked to their job. Many companies use tools like zoom Skype or Microsoft teams to communicate with their writers. To establish a proper online communication system with your clients, colleagues, and employers, you must know how to use Zoom, Skype, and some other online tools. This makes your work more accessible as a remote technical writer.

2. a Standard Approach to Writing

This is a guide for technical writers which is used for setting the standards for writing and designing content. It defines the style that should be used in technical communication. This helps technical writers write documentation more clearly and keep a consistent tone of voice and style. Examples include;

  • ASD-STE100 Standard, or the Simplified Technical English style guide
  • Microsoft Manual of Style
  • Oxford Manual of Style
  • Handbook of Technical Writing
  • Apple-Style Guide
  • The IBM Style Guide online or the PDF
  • Google Style Guide, etc.
  • AP Stylebook

3. Chrome Developer Tools Item 

This tool is useful when publishing content on HTML/HTML5 platforms. To access this tool, you need to head to your chrome browser on your computer and right-click on any of the webpages on Chrome, and then click on to Inspect option.

4. Content Management Tool

Since writing has to do with websites and other writing platforms, technical writers must have a basic understanding of content management systems (cms). These platforms make it possible for writers to create, edit and publish their documents, articles, blog post, and other forms of writing. Writers have to know how to add new posts, edit posts, and add multimedia like videos, music, and images. With a basic understanding of a content management system, you can present your documents to the readers the way you want to.

Examples include;

  • WordPress
  • Joomla
  • Drupal
  • Magento
  • Squarespace

5. Writing Tools

As a technical writer, your job is to simplify complex information so that the average person can have a basic understanding of what your content is about. This means that your job revolves around writing. There are some writing tools that can make your work easier and look more professional.  

  • Grammarly (for correcting grammatical errors and running plagiarism tests)
  • Google docs( for writing, storing, editing, and sharing documents with employers and other team members)
  • Microsoft word( for writing, editing, and sharing documents)
  • WPS( writing, storing, editing, documents)
  • Adobe
  • Google spreadsheet( for inputting data)

6. Remote work tools

  • Slack (for team collaborations)
  • Trello( team management)
  • Google drive for storage
  • Microsoft Teams
  • Google Meet
  • Asana

Skills You Need to Succeed as A Remote Technical Writer

As a remote technical writer, there are some skills you need to function effectively. Some of these skills include those that are needed to function as a technical writer and those that are needed to function offsite (remotely)

Here are some of the skills needed. To function as a remote technical writer, you must master the following set of skills. These skills include

1. Communication Skills

As a remote technical writer, you must know how to effectively communicate with people from different industries. Note that your way of communicating must be clear, concise, on point and attention-grabbing  Make sure to maintain a positive yet encouraging tone. Exhibit confidence by synthesizing the insights of others to help readers understand what you are trying to pass across. You also need effective communication skills to communicate with your client and team members.

2. Research Skills

This is a very important skill a technical writer must have if you want to reach your desired target audience. Technical writers perform research about their industry and what they are writing about. This gives them insight into trending issues and what people are asking questions about. This way, they can put out fresh content that is engaging, entertaining, and relevant to their target audience. After all, the purpose of writing is for your audience to get the message you are trying to pass across. If you don't research trending issues, you won't know what your audience is looking for. When this happens, your engagement level will be dropping. There are some research tools for technical writers like Semrush, Google Trends, Google analytics, and Ubbersuggest.

Technical writers should be able to research to get insight and feedback from target users to understand their technical knowledge level, needs, and what they're expecting from a particular industry.

3. Writing and Editing Skills

A technical writer should know how to create different types of technical content which can be blog posts, articles, journals, and many others. They should have a writing pattern or guide. Some of them are the Microsoft Manual of Style, Oxford Manual of Style, Handbook of Technical Writing, and the Apple Style Guide. Furthermore, a technical writer should be able to critically evaluate their technical documents, edit and format them, and make necessary changes to make them understandable to the target audience. You can use tools like Grammarly to check for grammatical errors and plagiarism. 

4. Technical Skills

Since remote technical writers will be dealing with a lot of industry, they must have basic technical skills. They must have basic designing skills and should be able to use Canva, Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator, and other design tools. Basic knowledge of one or two programming languages will be an added advantage. The ability to manage projects will be welcomed. 

Where to Look for a Job as A Remote Technical Writer

  • GitLab
  • Fiverr
  • Linkedin
  • Glassdoor
  • Upwork
  • UnitedHealth Group
  • Buena Vista University
  • General Dynamics Information Technology
  • Welocalize
  • Toptal
  • Zapier

Remote Technical Writer Jobs Pay Structures

A technical writer's job has to do with a lot of research on particular product content so it's not an easy one. Furthermore, they have to write user-friendly content that highlights an overall description of a particular company product. According to Indeed, a technical writer working in a company in San Jose gets a $110K annually salary package. In other regions of the USA, the writers paid around $91K to $98K annual salary.

Conclusion

A career in technical writing is something you should go for if you enjoy writing. There are many industries out there like the engineering, manufacturing, medical, science, and other trending industries that are looking to employ technical writers to write the documentation for their products and services. This means that as a technical writer, you have a lot of job opportunities awaiting you when you develop your skill as a technical writer. Furthermore, they earn reasonably high salaries. All you need to do is focus on getting experience and certifications. Try to learn new skills that will help you to grow in your career as a remote technical writer. Improve your digital and technical skills, this will help you function effectively when working remotely

Opeyemi Olagoke
Opeyemi Olagokehttps://woculus.com/
Olagoke Opeyemi Dare is a writer, digital marketer, and researcher with over 2 years of experience as a researcher. He is currently an intern at Spark Connect where he focuses on the fundamentals of digital marketing, social media marketing, and copywriting. He has written different articles and papers for various blogs and academic research projects respectively.

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