What Are the Qualifications of a Senior Technical Writer?

by Mark Applegate
Technical writers are more important than ever in the technological age.

Technical writers are more important than ever in the technological age.

If you've ever opened the owner's manual for a DVD player or the installation instructions for a piece of software and stared with a look of bewilderment, you know the importance of quality technical writing. Today, more than ever, technical writing finds its way into homes and offices everywhere. The senior technical writer is often a catalyst in producing solid material for all to use. While varying by firm, there are several qualifications required for this position.


A bachelor’s degree is a minimum qualification for a technical writer. While this also may hold true for a senior technical writer, a second technical degree such as in computer information systems or technology management or a graduate degree will often give him a competitive advantage. Sometimes work experience can be substituted for a degree, but usually only if the experience is in the targeted field the employer seeks.

Subject Matter Experience

Subject matter experience is critical in many fields of technology. A good technical writer can perform well even if she is not a subject matter expert, but a senior writer must know the topic well enough to clarify very challenging topics beyond those a normal user would be able to explain. She should be able to write about the topic from basics to advanced troubleshooting from the point of view of a developer and an end user.

Writing Experience and Skill

A senior technical writer may be expected to have at least five years technical writing experience. It is helpful if this experience is in the same or a tangent technology field such as software or consumer electronics. Solid grammar, spelling and writing skills are required; a senior writer is no exception. Video and scripting experience may also be a required skill, depending on the media employed by the firm.

Other Considerations

Measurable computer and keyboarding skills are a mainstay in technical writing -- and more so in a senior position. Skill or experience in specialized publishing software or media applications may also be a requirement. A thorough understanding of the firm's research and development techniques, such as the methods of software design planning, can also give him a competitive advantage. He must communicate well and be a good listener to compile interviews into written documentation at a senior level. He must also be able to communicate with senior management and other executive stakeholders.

Photo Credits

  • Ablestock.com/AbleStock.com/Getty Images