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How to become a Technical Author

technical author careers

What does a Technical Author do?

Technical authors or communicators (known as technical writers outside the UK) use their technical knowledge to prepare documents that can be easily understood by users of products and systems. These could include:

  • instruction and safety manuals
  • maintenance guides
  • on-line support for computer software
  • procedures for large businesses or local authorities
  • technical reports
  • sales literature.
Authors can be involved in originating, updating or rewriting documents. Before producing the document they need to determine exact requirements, gather and analyse relevant, often highly complex, information, and present it in a form that can be easily understood and that meets the agreed style and format.

They liaise with product developers, marketing professionals, printers and publishers, technical experts, graphic designers and, because documents are often illustrated, with artists and illustrators.

What's the working environment like working as a Technical Author?

Technical authors generally work 9am - 5pm, Monday to Friday, although extra hours may be required to meet deadlines. This may include evenings and weekends.

Freelancers’ working hours will be more irregular, and they may work from home.

What does it take to become a Technical Author?

To be a technical author you should:

  • have an excellent standard of written language
  • be able to research and analyse complex technical information
  • be able to produce documents that are technically correct, clear and reasonably concise
  • be able to absorb information quickly and structure it logically
  • be organised and methodical
  • be accurate, with an eye for detail
  • have IT skills
  • be able to work in a multi-disciplinary team, but also take responsibility for your own work.

Technical Author Career Opportunities

Typical employers include publications departments of major engineering and scientific companies, computer software and hardware companies, research organisations, government departments, particularly the Ministry of Defence, automotive and aviation manufacturers, the Civil Service and technical publishing companies and agencies. Some technical authors work on a freelance basis.

Opportunities may be available in technical journalism, either in print or online.

There are also opportunities abroad, particularly in Europe. With larger companies there may be some travel overseas.

Promotion to senior positions may be available with some publications departments or technical agencies.

Further information

If you would like to know anything about Technical Author that does not appear on Hotcourses, further information can be found below.

Institute of Scientific and Technical Communicators
PO Box 522
Tel: 01733 390141

Association of British Science Writers
Wellcome Wolfson Building
165 Queen's Gate
Tel: 0870 770 3361

European Medical Writers Association

Facts and Stats:

  • There are one million people in the sales profession, excluding retail sales

  • Half of all sales people are in business-to-business sales.

  • Until something is sold, nothing happens (think about it).
  • The sales process in company IT may take three years.

Courses to help you become a Technical Author