Category Archives: beginner tips & careers

Do I need to take courses in technical writing? Guest post by Laura Palmer

Laura Palmer SPSU

A reader asks, Is there a technical writing standard certification or course that is renowned as the best and one that touches on the additional skills necessary (technical programming/software etc.) to succeed in the field? Maybe one that addresses the best way to find contracts, projects, and other jobs? I just don’t want to pay Continue Reading »

Professional Technical Writing Careers — Answers to Questions, by Cheryl Landes

Technical communication professors often ask students to interview a professional technical writer to get a better sense of the field. The following responses are from Cheryl Landes, a professional technical and marketing communicator. Cheryl owns her own company, Tabby Cat Communications. The questions come from a student at Missouri State University. What preparation did you have for Continue Reading »

Professional Technical Writing Careers — Questions and Answers, by Steve Goldberg

During the fall and winter semesters, tech comm professors often ask students to interview professional technical writers to get a better sense of the field. Having answered a few student inquiries already, I decided to invite other professionals to respond to student questions, and then to copy me so that I could post their responses Continue Reading »

How Can Newbies Learn Tech Comm Tools Given Their Cost?

I recently received the following question from a reader: Hello. I’ve read some of your blog articles and they’ve been very helpful. I’m interested in changing careers and am hoping to pick your brain with a brief couple of questions. First, how do outsiders learn the software that TechComm folks use? I’ve looked at Adobe’s Continue Reading »

What Tools Do Technical Writers Use

Students and others trying to break into technical writing are always wondering what tools they should use. The latest tools survey from WritersUA seems helpful in answering this question. The survey concludes that some of the most popular tools for technical writers are Adobe Acrobat, Camtasia Studio, Adobe Captivate, Dreamweaver, Madcap Flare, Framemaker, Photoshop, Robohelp, Continue Reading »

Should You Get a Graduate Degree in Technical Writing?

Every so often someone asks me if they should get a graduate degree in technical writing. Penelope Trunk has a controversial post in which she argues that graduate degrees aren’t necessarily smart business decisions. Graduate schools can be an environment that removes you from the world of real experience. Penelope writes, The biggest problem is that Continue Reading »

Collaborative Post: Why Is the “Technical” More Important Than the “Writing”

I recently received the following question from a reader: The job listings on for local companies (in the San Francisco Bay area) all sound like they (or their recruiters) are really looking for engineers, programmers, web designers, or graphic artists “who write”, not for just straight technical writers who gather information, write it up, Continue Reading »

Collaborative Post: Giving Guidance to a Masters Student about Technical Writing Careers

I received the following email from Anna, a literature PhD candidate who is considering changing career paths from teaching into technical writing. This is a collaborative post, so if you have advice to share, please add it in the comments below. 1. What is it like doing tech writing on a freelance basis? (My understanding Continue Reading »

Are Certificate Programs Helpful for Transitioning into Technical Writing? [Collaborative Post]

I get this kind of question regularly from people who find my blog. I never quite know what to say. Dear Tom, I stumbled upon your blog in search of information about becoming a technical writing.  I decided to shoot you a quick email in search of a bit of advice.  I have a M.A. degree in Continue Reading »