90% Industrial and software companies
Technical writers work in all fields where technical products are manufactured. This usually includes the entire industrial and software sector. Depending on the size of the staff, they work as independent technical writers, in technical communication teams, in independent departments (technical communication), or as part of a different department (e.g. Development, Design, Training etc.). Meanwhile, they also often work in Marketing, where they can achieve synergy effects because of their detailed target group analyses for instance.
(based on a survey conducted in Germany)
The service sector is also an interesting field of work for technical writers. Here, they have the option of working in a service company or as a freelancer regardless of the sector. The service sector is commissioned by the industry and is essentially responsible for writing technical documentation and creating graphics.
Outside industrial enterprises, technical writers also occasionally work in the public sector or in the education field.
Every profession has its typical characteristics, depending on which working conditions. Some methods of working in one job role are similar to those of the other. The same applies to technical communication.
Across all sectors, the work is characterized by the following:
- Independent work
- Flexible work management and planning
- Focused work
- Mentally demanding work
- Interesting tasks
- A high degree of self-determination
There are slight differences between employee and managerial positions. Managers often say that they have interesting and diversified tasks, a variety of topics to work on, and that they work in an interdisciplinary team.
Characteristic features for the workplace environment of technical writers, i.e., external influences, are:
- Permanent position
- Flexible working hours
- Pleasant working atmosphere
- Equal rights
Many specialists also value security and long-term prospects that their workplace offers.
Key Figures of the Industry
In the field of technical communication, you will find approximately 80% lateral entrants and 20% specialists with basic training. The growing demand in the job market speaks for the high percentage of lateral entrants because students alone cannot fulfill this requirement. Additionally, there are many employees, who hardly know which form of address to call themselves in this profession. They may be instructors or engineers, but fundamentally they do the same work.
Such lateral entrants should be familiarized with their job because technical writers play a very important role since they are responsible for the following in a company:
- Legal security and adherence to standards
- Consumer protection
- Consumer satisfaction
- Efficiency in translation work
- Professionalism and knowledge about all forms of media control
Lateral entrants from fields of study such as engineering, machine building, technical vocational training, (technical) translation/localization, or from media and communication sciences have a good chance of starting a career in technical communication. They have the following opportunities:
- tekom certificate for employed persons
- Non-consecutive postgraduate programs
- Specialization while pursuing studies
More information on undergraduate education is available here programs
Technical communication offers a relatively high degree of employment security. Thanks to increasing mechanization and innovative capabilities of the 21st century, a fast-growing number of products require information for use. The demand for technical writers, who create such information for use, has therefore increased. Many companies have already identified this need and are expanding their workplaces accordingly. This results in relatively secure employment relationships for graduates. The job scenario seems especially promising for university graduates with an undergraduate education in technical communication because a rising number of senior managers value the skill sets that come with such a degree.
Point job > prospects explains that success need not always relate to a career in the conventional sense of the term since there are other attractive development opportunities as well.
In the field of technical communication, specialists usually work as employees–with or without a managerial role. Working as the director of a company (one’s own company; with staff responsibility) is a very rare thing. It happens most frequently in the service sector. Here, it is more mangeable for specialists to be self-employed as freelancers or heads of small businesses. Under the given conditions–a small company with few hierarchy levels–the decision-making power is automatically higher.
This profession is actively supported, fostered, and continuously developed by some professional associations. The largest association is the European Association for Technical Communication – tekom Europe e.V. It has many national subsidiaries that each ensures that technical writers are satisfied with their profession. A member of tekom Europe has the opportunity to become fully involved in the profession and shape it. How does this work? Read more about Benefits for members
In addition to the national subsidiaries, there are other small European professional associations in Great Britain (ISTC), France, Sweden, Finland, or Portugal (APCOMTEC) for instance.
There are international organizations in Australia, China (CAS), India (TWIN), Japan (JTCA), Korea (KTCA), New Zealand, and in North America (STC).