Society Magazine

3 Levels and 3 Profiles of Technical Writing

Posted on the 29 January 2018 by Beinglatinacom

If you are wondering what levels one can expect to reach in a technical writing career, here are 3 profiles just to give you a rough idea.

Please don't forget that this is just an approximate picture and does not mean that you have to go through each level in exactly the same manner.

You may perhaps start off from the Intermediate level if you are bringing with you a strong background in software skills and job experience.

Or who knows, you might reach a senior level within just 5 years? That's certainly possible too.

Individual cases always vary. But I believe what follows is still a useful general picture in terms of presenting you an overall survey of the technical writing landscape and providing some general benchmarks. They are not based on any scientific study but on my personal experience of over 10 years as a technical writer.

Please let me know if you'd have any questions about these career profiles.

Profile 1: Junior-Level Technical Writer

Time on job: 0-5 years

  • Writing interface documentation including user guides, installation guides, quick reference guides, release notes, help files.
  • No supervisory or management skills.
  • Optional: graphic and illustration skills.
  • Microsoft Office Suite
  • Optional: FrameMaker (Unstructured)
  • Optional: Photoshop
  • Optional: Illustrator
  • Optional: Help file editor (RoboHelp, Flare, Quadralay, DoctoHelp, etc.)
  • Optional: Version control software (MS Source Safe, etc.)
Profile 2: Intermediate-Level Technical Writer

Time on job: 5-10 years

  • Writing and editing interface and procedural documentation including user guides, installation guides, quick reference guides, release notes, system configuration guides, help files.
  • Single-sourcing and structured authoring.
  • Graphic, illustration, print-page and web design skills.
  • Assisting projects as lead-writer and supervising one or more junior writers.
  • Optional: simple document and web site localization and translation skills.
  • Optional: publishing articles in popular professional periodicals like STC's Intercom.
  • Optional: serving as a Juror in professional technical communication competitions.
  • Microsoft Office Suite
  • FrameMaker (Unstructured and Structured)
  • Photoshop
  • Illustrator
  • Help file editor (RoboHelp, Flare, Quadralay, DoctoHelp, etc.)
  • Version control software (MS Source Safe, etc.)
  • Optional: Advanced version and content management software (Agile, etc.)
  • Optional: Dreamweaver and/or HTML coding
Profile 3: Senior-Level Technical Writer

Time on job: Over 10 years

  • Writing and editing interface and procedural documentation including user guides, installation guides, quick reference guides, release notes, system configuration guides, help files, API guides.
  • Single-sourcing and structured authoring including DITA structuring and database publishing.
  • Graphic, illustration, print-page and web design skills.
  • Leading projects as lead-writer and supervising one or more junior and senior writers.
  • Advanced print and online documentation project localization skills.
  • Publishing articles in peer-reviewed professional periodicals like STC's Technical Communication.
  • Optional: serving as a Lead Juror in professional technical communication competitions.
  • Microsoft Office Suite
  • FrameMaker (Unstructured and Structured)
  • Photoshop
  • Illustrator
  • Help file editor (RoboHelp, Flare, Quadralay, DoctoHelp, etc.)
  • Version control software (MS Source Safe, etc.)
  • Optional: Advanced version and content management software (Agile, etc.)
  • Optional: Dreamweaver and/or HTML coding
  • Optional: XML Editor (FrameMaker, Arbortext, Oxygen, etc.)
  • Optional: Database Publishing editor (TEX, PatternStream, etc.)

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