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What Is a Contract Technical Writer and How to Become One

Contract Technical Writer

What Does a Contract Technical Writer Do?

Contract technical writers compose journal articles, instruction manuals, textbooks, and other documents with complex, technical information that needs to be explained in an easy-to-understand way. Unlike staff writers, contract technical writers are freelancers that work on a short- or long-term contract basis. In this role, you determine the scope of each writing project from your client, then collaborate with product designers and developers to understand what you are writing about. Once you gather the required information, you write and organize the document based on your target audience, adding photographs, drawings, charts, and diagrams as needed. Your documents are proofread and edited before they are published.

How Can I Get a Job as a Contract Technical Writer?

While there are no formal education requirements to become a contract technical writer, many have a bachelor's degree in English, communications, journalism, or a related field. Employers prefer candidates who also have a background in a specialized field, such as technology, engineering, healthcare, computer science, though employers typically provide on-the-job training to familiarize you with the products or services you need to write about. You must have a strong grasp on grammar and editing, as well as know how to explain complex concepts in simple language. Some technical writers start their careers as staff writers to gain experience before branching out as independent contractors.