The Job of a Technical Writer

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With a degree in technical writing, you might pursue any one of the career paths listed in other articles related to technical writing in this website, but some specializations seem to offer greater opportunities than others. In this article we examine the different specializations and the opportunities they present.

THE TECHNICAL PRESS

We are literally surrounded and inundated by a flood of literature called technical journalism. The number of publications, periodicals, magazines, trade journals, and newspapers is so great that we take their existence for granted and hardly notice their presence. There are so many scientific and trade publications, in fact, that it is impossible to cite a number with which everyone will agree. In addition, new publications are constantly appearing.



Scientific Journals

The text and subject matter range in complexity from the highly scientific Journal of Organic Chemistry to the very simplistic magazine, Popular Mechanics. The Journal of Organic Chemistry is found only on the bookshelves of chemistry and technical libraries and in the offices of chemists. Naturally, most of its readers are Editor for medical journals; monographs on clinical medicine.
  • Editor, nursing journal.

  • Editor/writer to report on technology in robotics field. Needs technical background.

  • Editing/writing skills for medical journal. Will teach use of word processor.

  • Business writer for management consulting firm. Must be comfortable with semi-technical subjects.

  • Editor to coordinate production of proposals for computer services.

  • Experience with government proposals.

  • Newsletter editor for part-time work in university for space research group.
Technical Communication, the STC journal, is one of the best sources for employment opportunities. Ads appear in every issue. Get into the habit of reading the magazines and newspapers that feature industrial news to learn the names of such agencies.

LETTER OF APPLICATION

Once you have the name of a potential employer, you are in a position to write a letter of application with which you will include a resume of your accomplishments. There are various ways to write a letter of application-or cover letter, as it is also called- but it is beneficial not to mention your attached resume until the end of your letter. If you point it out too soon, the reader of your cover letter will turn to the resume before finishing what it is you have to say about yourself.

The application letter should be short, but it should include information about your background and the type of position you are seeking. If you have a mutual friend or professional contact who has suggested you write to a company, you should mention it.

RESEARCH THE JOBS

If you wish to enter the industrial world, or any other occupation for that matter, you should do some groundwork. You should first assess what you have to offer. Then do some research into the company in which you are interested to see whether you can meet its requirements.

To some extent you can do your own research. And remember that certain kinds of companies-electronic, aeronautical, and chemical industries; contracting companies; government agencies; and research institutes-are more in need of technical writers than others.

Most libraries in your community will have a copy of Standard and Poor's Index on their shelves. This reference book lists a great deal of information about major companies-where they are located, what they manufacture, divisions in the company, and branches in various cities and countries.

There are other helpful books and pamphlets you can consult that give valuable career information. Plan to spend some time in your local public library, university library, or a community college library getting the information you need.

The Internet has become an important vehicle for job hunters in the last ten years or so. As mentioned earlier, the Society of Technical Writers maintains a database of job openings. Other sites do, too. Fire up your favorite search engine and use keywords such as Technical Writer And Jobs or Careers.

During the last decade, employment agencies dealing exclusively in the industrial employment of engineers and administrators have grown. These agencies are now adding technical writers to their lists.

SAMPLE JOB ADVERTISEMENTS

In this respect, we did some research of our own on your behalf. Here are some of our job and title findings taken from ads in various journals:
  • Editor for consumer electronics.

  • Must be able to use production techniques.

  • Senior editor for trade magazine.

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