Communications, as a whole, is the study of how people connect with one another and the various mediums through which individuals and groups can be influenced. Communication can be through pictures, graphics, charts, commercials, verbal speech or writing, among countless other mediums. When it comes to technical communication, the fields of technology and communication combine.
The study refers to the intersection of the two subjects, and it traditionally includes instructional manuals about technological devices as well as discussions on technological subjects or using technology, such as a website, to discuss any topic.
With that understanding of technical communication, it is easy to see how large the field can be. The following are some of the top careers in technical communication and a little more about what each position typically entails.
1. Web Developer
Just like the name indicates, a web developer is responsible for developing websites. Along with the overall design and style of the website, which might include consultations with writers, graphic designers or marketing staff, the overall development of the website also entails the performance, speed and usability of the website.
A web developer creating a photography business’ website, for example, needs to ensure that the photos load quickly and are clear and attractive when viewers click on the page. A web developer for an up-and-coming restaurant needs to ensure that the reservations section of the page loads quickly and can handle a lot of online traffic at peak times over the weekend or on certain holidays.
Some of the daily tasks of a web developer might include meeting with clients to learn about their needs for the website, developing appropriate applications for a website, writing HTML code for a website or monitoring the traffic of the website on an ongoing basis.
2. Online Degree Curriculum Creators
Over the past decade, there has been a tremendous increase in the number of students studying through online degree programs. In many ways, these online degree programs are identical to that of traditional degree programs, but there are some noticeable differences that have to be addressed at every stage from the creation of the curriculum all the way to the very final exam for each student.
An online degree curriculum creator has to be familiar with the subject they are dealing with whether that is history, math or science, but they also need to be familiar with the technical side of online education.
Daily tasks could include things like adding hyperlinks to online course materials for additional references, creating exams that can be easily taken online and testing curriculum on students to compare it to traditional classroom studies.
3. Technical Illustrators
Instruction manuals, technical guides and similar written booklets often contain detailed drawings to help users understand the content within. When buyers purchase factory equipment, for example, they may use extensive instruction manuals to learn how to put together the machinery and then use it appropriately.
While written instructions are vital to this process, pictures make installation and use a lot easier to understand. The people who design these pictures and graphics are called technical illustrators.
This kind of illustration requires artistic skill, but it is more about accuracy and detail than about aesthetic appeal. Many technical illustrators work for large technical corporations or they opt to work freelance and tackle projects as they come from the comfort of home.
4. Technical Writers
The job of a technical writer is to create written content related to technological subjects. This could range from instruction manuals of electronic devices to texts revolving around the new uses of technology.
Daily tasks of a technical writer might include studying products in person, gathering existing materials that can serve as references to their writing, getting feedback from the manufacturer of the technology and the users of the products, deciding on the right mediums to disperse relevant information and selecting graphics or hiring illustrators to complement the writing in manuals, websites and more.
Technical writers are often found in fields like science, medicine, manufacturing and engineering, and they can work either in-house for these kinds of companies or freelance from their home or their own small business.
5. Information Architect
With so much information available, there is often the need for some kind of organizational system so that the right data can be pulled up as and when it is needed. To achieve this, an information architect is the right person.
The job of an information architect might be to catalog the electronic files for a large hospital system with a dozen locations throughout the country, to develop systems so that the right websites are pulled up when people search for them online or simply to create the perfect way for books to be labeled in a library so that they are easily accessible.
6. Technical Trainer
Although illustrations and manuals can be helpful, there are some technical processes that require users to undergo extensive training. Technical trainers are responsible for teaching students, who are typical employees or college-age students, to complete technical tasks.
A technical trainer might teach computer repair apprentices how to troubleshoot personal computers, they might teach factory workers how to clean and maintain industrial machinery, they might teach doctors how to transition from paper medical records to electronic records and they might even show marketing professionals how to use the newest software when trying to reach a younger demographic of potential consumers.
Technical trainers need to be familiar with the technology they are teaching, but they also need to be skilled when it comes to educating adults. Leadership, confidence, great communication skills and patience are required for anyone planning to become a technical trainer.
7. Technical Marketing Professional
Marketing and advertising focus on emphasizing the positive aspects of a brand, product or service and then dispersing that information to potential clients and customers.
When it comes to technical products or services, which might range from website design services to new medical machinery for use in a hospital to diagnose cancer, marketing can be a challenge unless the marketing professionals are familiar with technology.
That is where technical marketing professionals can find themselves highly employable. The job often includes creating marketing materials that manage to emphasize the advantages of the new technical product or service without overwhelming the reader.
This could be achieved through a new commercial for a smartphone that shows buyers the appeal without going too far into details, or it could be achieved by creating a simple informative video and sending it to potential hospitals who are interesting in buying a new type of diagnostic software for their patients.
Combining two fields that are often considered to be polar opposites, technical communication is a vast industry that contains a number of interesting positions. Some of the great careers that you can pursue within the umbrella of technical communication include web developer, online degree curriculum creators, technical illustrators, technical writers, information architects, technical trainers and professionals within the field of marketing technical products and services.
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