Ginny became a technical author after teaching for some time. She now runs her own company and is also involved with the training of technical authors.
I did a degree in languages and went into teaching and also spent some time travelling. I then decided to retrain and took a Masters in Information Technology. It was the hardest thing I've ever done. Although the course was aimed at arts and humanities graduates, it was very technical, and I had to learn to think in a more structured way. I had to become more methodical and logical. I discovered that I liked technical writing. As well as teaching me these new skills, the course also helped me understand how computers work, both the hardware and the software.
On completing the Masters, I applied for jobs in the normal way, responding to adverts in Guardian Jobs, for example. I got my first job because of my previous experience in training. I was trained by my employers as a technical author and then to train other people as technical authors. I also got involved in project work and consultancy and I now run my own company, which requires a whole new set of managerial and organisational skills
As a technical author, I meet and liaise with clients, work with editors, plan projects and, of course, write. A good knowledge of the subject at hand is essential and patience helps. A willingness to learn new skills is advantageous.
I'd recommend taking one of the training courses available. These include short, online courses. Participants are given an overview of the writing process and learn such things as an appreciation of the tools and technology involved, addressing the audience, working with editors, indexing and dealing with images.
The things I enjoy about the job are the autonomy and being able to reach solutions when presented with problems by clients. What I don't enjoy are the routine, methodical aspects, and it can also be quite a lonely occupation, so I think anyone thinking of becoming a technical writer should join organisations such as GOV.UK , sign up to as many newsletters produced by authoring companies as possible, and get involved with networking, through Ecademy , for example. When going for interviews, I'd advise people to be honest about their knowledge and abilities, and not waste time saying they can do things that they actually can't.
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