The following is a list of questions that we will attempt to address to new technical writers. It is a work in progress, and you can feel free to reach out and ask one. Rather than address your questions individually, as time permits, we will add them here.

Education Questions

Q: What do I need to look for a job in tech writing?

A: Employers typically ask for a certificate in technical writing or technical communication. A technical writing certificate can take about 6-9 months to earn.

I can recommend the University of Washington Certificate Program and the Society for Communication Tech Writing Program does as well. The UW Program has the better program, with better projects, more interactivity, etc. But they are both good programs.

Q: Can you recommend a good technical writing certificate program? You can go up to a Masters or PhD in a field related to technical writing, but I recommend that you do some education, then try and get an internship or get a job and then go back between work and school. You gain both knowledge and contacts that way.

A: Yes, the Society for Technical Writing has a program on their national site. The University of WA also has a wonderful Certificate program.

Getting Your First Few Jobs

Q: How can I obtain a job after getting a certificate?

A: I have been a teacher’s helper since kindergarten. I ask to help and that gains me access to their house, additional support, lots of personal 1:1 time. Jobs that might not even be offered if I weren’t around doing other things. Ask teachers if they have any special projects you can work on for they. Many of them are happy for extra help. I got unbelievable access, exposure, free attendance at conferences, and more. Plus a recommendation from them is worth a great deal.

I had my first samples just by doing that for a program that had no help. My first two samples were funding request projects. Once they were approved, I did the work too.

A: Volunteer to write a How-To, a website, or something else that you can show as a sample of the type of work you are capable of doing. Take extra time to do it right. Work for free to fix your errors.

What Should I Show or Have Ready Before I Apply?

You should have the following:

  • A website where you can display your work. You can review mine to get the type of items you want to display:
  • You can get a free site for your STC site.
  • Turn your samples into PDFs as they are easy to handle and harder for someone to take them from you and misrepresent them as their own.
  • Make sure everything you show is spellchecked!