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Different ways to become a technical writer

Updated: Jan 3

There are several different ways to become a technical writer. Below are the most common types of education that can lead to a successful career as a technical writer in Sweden.

All informiQ consultants have taken different paths to reach their specializations, and Lina, Fredrik, and Karin are three practical examples of how you can become a technical writer.



Technical information education

These programs specialize in technical information. You will learn most things you need, such as writing technical English, information structure, project methodics, technical illustrations, rules and safety, digital tools for technical writing, and project management. They also include an internship.


Technical master or bachelor of science

A degree in technical science ensures that you have proficient technical knowledge. You may also have worked in some technical engineering field, and have a genuine interest in how for example a machine works and is also good at explaining this to someone else. Either you’re already a really good writer, or you may need to improve your writing capabilities to go into technical writing.


Cognitive sciences

As a cognitive scientist you have knowledge into how the human mind works and how the human brain functions to receive, process, and transform information. This gives you a good insight in how instructions are best presented in order to achieve the wanted action from the end user. You may need to add on with technical knowledge, depending on what specific career path you want to pursue.


Journalism

Journalists learn to write objective and according to facts, clearness and conciseness, and to create texts without using adjectives. Journalists are proficient in doing research, reviewing material, and following a style guide. The processes for planning, executing, and evaluating the content are very similar between journalists and technical writers. If you have these skills, you’re halfway to becoming a good technical writer. What journalists usually lack is enough technical knowledge about hardware, software, networks, databases, coding, version control, APIs, automation, DevOps, QA, UX and design. If you don’t have a strong personal interest in these areas, you will need to complement your skillset with some kind of technical degree. Many journalists go for a technical information program as mentioned above, while others are more interested in computer science or some other strictly technical degree.


Communication

If you’re a communicator you’re already a writer, you have knowledge in analyzing user groups, and you’re proficient in structuring information an d planning how to present information in a way that helps the audience understand it. You also have skills in design and graphics. Just as a journalist, you probably need to add on with a technical degree unless you already have a strong enough technical skillset.


English Major

With a degree in English, you already have the language part covered. In addition, you will need either a strong personal interest in the above mentioned technical areas, or complete your skillset with a technical degree.


Summary: At least in Sweden, many companies prefer their technical writers to have a Master or Bachelor of Science degree. If you don’t have that, you can still be an attractive asset if you have other similar knowledge and experience


Our advice to you: If you’re a good writer with a keen technical interest and is good at explaining things in a pedagogic way, you can become a good technical writer. What will set you apart from the crowd is some kind of specialization.

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