A technical writer is a specialist who has to combine the writing skills with the knowledge of technology. Such specialists need to constantly improve their skills in two seemingly distant areas.
The skills to gain from the linguistics field
First of all, it is necessary to have a perfect knowledge of the language in which you write texts. You also need to understand how genres are different: how a manual differs from an article, how to shorten micro copy, how to make release notes.
It is helpful to know your target audiences, i.e. to understand how easy it will be for your readers to grasp your writing. How you format your text is important for readability: here, the plus will be to know how to make layouts.
To produce high-quality text, you need to have a good understanding of editing. You should also know the differences in styles and, in particular, the specifics of the scientific style.
Linguistic skills also include the ability to work with terminology, including the abilities to pick up a reputable dictionary and maintain internal glossaries.
What’s important in terms of technology?
If you have a background in some technical area, it will be a huge plus for your writing. But if not, you still can manage. For that, you will need to have structural thinking and a desire to learn.
It’s important to have a holistic understanding of the technologies that we use every day. How do web resources work? What is the difference between frontend and backend? How do client and server interact with each other?
Often, technical writers are tasked with API descriptions, so it’s also useful to learn about the API design.
A big plus is your knowledge of the tools for creating text files. Such tools include MadCap Flare and Latex. In some cases, you may need to work with static site generators, such as Jekyll or Hugo.
Technical writing is a bit more popular now than a few years ago. So if you need some help with studying, you can always turn to the learning materials made by your colleagues.