TechWhirl (TECHWR-L) is a resource for technical writing and technical communications professionals of all experience levels and in all industries to share their experiences and acquire information.
For two decades, technical communicators have turned to TechWhirl to ask and answer questions about the always-changing world of technical communications, such as tools, skills, career paths, methodologies, and emerging industries. The TechWhirl Archives and magazine, created for, by and about technical writers, offer a wealth of knowledge to everyone with an interest in any aspect of technical communications.
A good point, Elizabeth, but I don't think it's a very limited segment of
the industry since many technical writers write for end users.
I guess the conclusion is that it depends on the type of audience the
employees will be writing for. I do not think that a lack of technical
training means you can't understand and explain products to nontechnical
users. I have also written service manuals for service technicians, and I
never found that I could not write a document because I didn't have a
technical background. Careful investigation and planning and a good list of
questions helped me and my coworkers avoid pitfalls, and we learned quite a
bit on the job.
However, I agree that technical writers who write for design engineers,
programmers, and other technical professionals need a technical background.
I just hate to see capable technical writers turned down when the audience
is not technical.
Thanks to all of you who pointed out the need for a technical background for
some tech writing positions.
> That's only true if you are employed as a technical writer in a limited
> segment of the industry. I am a technical writer. The manuals I write are
> for design engineers who are using our chips in their own designs. I would
> be up the proverbial creek without a paddle if I lacked technical ability.
> In my opinion, one of the critical abilities of a technical writer must be
> the ability to understand technical material. If you can't explain it, you
> don't understand it. If you don't understand it, you can't explain it.
> (Apologies to Albert Einstein).