Reasons to become a technical communicator
There are many reasons to get into technical communications. However, the specific job of technical writer has a lot going for it. CNN Money has a list of the 50 best jobs in America and that list includes not only technical writer at #28 (and it's also number 5 on the least stressful jobs by the same magazine), but also a lot of information on related jobs.What do technical communicators do?
Well, according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics 2010-2011 Occupational Outlook Handbook, "Technical writers, also called technical communicators, put technical information into easily understandable language. They work primarily in information-technology-related industries, coordinating the development and dissemination of technical content for a variety of users; however, a growing number of technical communicators are using technical content to resolve business communications problems in a diversifying number of industries."
Why is this a great job (according to CNN Money)
According to the article by CNN Money technical writer is included in the 50 best jobs in America for many reasons, include the following stats:
A median salary of $67,400
Upper end salary of up to $100,000
Projected job growth over the next 10 years of 20%
Overall quality of life rating (things like personal satisfaction, security, growth, benefit to society, and job growth of B
While a technical writer is rated number 28 (not bad on a list of the top 50 of ALL jobs available) there are other, similar fields in the top 50. If you have the background to be a technical writer, or are in that field, then some logical transitions include fields such as:
Application Systems Analyst (#40)
Business Analyst (#17)
Director of Communications (#31)
Education/Training Consultant (#35, and #1 for least stress)
Financial Research Analyst (#49)
IT Project Manager (#5)
Training & Development Manager (#46)
How do I get into this field?
Of course, if you happen to be in one of the above mentioned related fields and are interested in moving to another career, then technical writer may be an option. Reverse engineering if you will. Regardless, the career of technical writer is one in which there are opportunities for growth both within the field, and into related fields.
Start by exploring your local STC (Society for Technical Communications) community. Also explore some college and university programs. Talk to people who may already be in the industry (check to see if you have technical writers in your own company already).
What do I need to know?
If you already are really good at what you do, and you can communicate well, you are likely already part way there. If the work you do at present relates to the field, then you likely just need good communication skills. This includes the ability to interview, to draw information out of people, to discuss complex topics in ways that your audience can understand, and to be excellent at organizing content.
If that sounds like you, then there is a chance that you may want to consider expanding your career options. It never hurts to explore other ideas and see where and how they may fit into your plans for the future. Best of luck with whatever you decide on.