What Do Entry-Level Technical Writers Do? (with pictures)

C. Mitchell
C. Mitchell
Teamwork can be very helpful for entry-level technical writers.
Teamwork can be very helpful for entry-level technical writers.

The entry-level technical writer’s job usually combines aspects of writing, editing, and observing, with responsibilities growing in proportion to experience and performance. There is not usually any defined difference in the type of work performed by junior and senior writers, though the extent and complexity of assignments can vary tremendously. Entry-level staff usually focus on building skills and learning required style, policies, and formatting.

Technical writers are often hired by manufacturing companies to write assembly instructions and operation manuals.
Technical writers are often hired by manufacturing companies to write assembly instructions and operation manuals.

Technical writing jobs are usually structured as careers, with employers intending new hires to remain in their jobs for the long haul. Managers often invest a lot of training energy in entry-level technical writers in order to prepare them to rise through the ranks of the company, ultimately increasing the organization's capital. Trainees are usually started with basic writing and formatting tasks. Their progress tends to be monitored regularly, with feedback regularly given in order to improve quality over time.

Entry-levels writers might have their work undergo a rigorous edit.
Entry-levels writers might have their work undergo a rigorous edit.

Most entry-level technical writers spend the majority of their time on basic technical writing projects. They may be tasked with creating introductions or chapter summaries for instruction manuals, for instance, or may be responsible for drafting press releases or other short technical documents. Not everything that a junior staff member does is necessarily easier than the work of other employees, but the junior worker is usually given longer to complete assignments.

Basic editing is also a part of many entry-level technical writers’ daily work. Most technical publications are edited in-house. Major edits are usually handled by dedicated editorial teams, but proofreading and style formatting is usually a facet of writing itself. Junior writers are often assigned a lot of proofreading tasks for no other reason than to familiarize them with standard conventions of style and layout. One of the best ways to master company-specific writing styles and rules is to be confronted with them over and over again.

Regular reviews and performance evaluations are almost always a part of entry-level technical writers' work life. Reviews typically focus both on writing strengths and weaknesses, and are designed primarily to help new creators more carefully tailor their work to the specific needs and mandates of the parent company. Larger training sessions and seminars are also sometimes organized specifically for entry-level staff to help them stay up to speed.

As entry-level technical writers progress, they are often given more difficult tasks. These often involve collaboration with other writers. Teamwork is often the best way for new writers to get a feel for neutral, voiceless writing: if multiple authors must contribute to a single technical communication, uniformity of tone and terminology becomes ever more important.

There are rarely defined end points or time lines for entry-level jobs in technical writing. Employees are promoted to more senior positions based both on their skills and on company needs. There are usually several pay bands within any entry-level category, however, which means that especially strong writers can still advance, even if they are not assuming more senior titles.

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    • Teamwork can be very helpful for entry-level technical writers.
      Teamwork can be very helpful for entry-level technical writers.
    • Technical writers are often hired by manufacturing companies to write assembly instructions and operation manuals.
      Technical writers are often hired by manufacturing companies to write assembly instructions and operation manuals.
    • Entry-levels writers might have their work undergo a rigorous edit.
      Entry-levels writers might have their work undergo a rigorous edit.