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Technical author: job description

Technical author: job description

Technical authors write scientific and technical information for a variety of products including web pages, printed documents and computerised help files.
Employers look for evidence of an authoritative, clear and concise writing style, so it is vital to have a well-written CV.

What does a technical author do? Typical employers | Qualifications and training | Key skills

Technical authors are responsible for writing specialist articles and user guides for a range of products – usually these documents should be user-friendly and aimed at the consumer, for example the instruction manual for a DVD player. Often the information is of a very technical nature so a thorough understanding of the subject matter is essential.

Technical authors are responsible for:

  • writing, editing and proofreading text
  • collating and verifying information
  • creating and editing pictures and diagrams
  • liaising with other staff such as printers, photographers and translators
  • producing indexes and catalogues

Typical employers of technical authors

  • Telecommunications companies
  • Engineering companies
  • Computer hardware and software companies
  • Technical publishers
  • Manufacturers of technical equipment
  • The Civil Service
  • The Ministry of Defence
  • Local authorities

Opportunities for advancement may occur in related areas of employment.

Vacancies are advertised online, by TARGETjobs, by careers services and specialist recruitment agencies, in newspapers and relevant publications such as New Scientist, Computing, Computer Weekly and ISTC Communicator as well as their online equivalents. Self-employment and freelance work are possible for individuals with several years' relevant experience.

Qualifications and training required

Any degree discipline is acceptable, although scientific, computing, technical or engineering qualifications may be required for some positions. Previous relevant experience is not necessary, although any experience gained from published articles, freelance work or writing competitions may be helpful, particularly for mature candidates.

Key skills for technical authors

  • Eye for detail
  • Technical knowledge
  • Sense of narrative
  • Ability to articulate meaning
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