Biotech In-Demand Jobs: Technical Writer
Not only do biotech companies need to create and innovate new products, but they also have to put together the information that explains just how those products work or what they do. These technical specs are written by a technical writer. A specialized position filled by people who have writing skills and scientific ones, technical writers take the highly specific information provided by the people who create the products and translate it into easily understandable instructions for those who do not have as high a level of scientific knowledge.
Technical writers fulfill a very important niche in the biotech world. After the scientists create the products and before the marketing managers begin to seek out companies and people to market the product toward, these writers step in and put together everything from the manuals to the technical diagrams that explain how the product works. These writers also research and publish journal articles on the products, using information provided by the scientists who worked on it.
Here is an overview of a technical writer career:
Minimum Education Requirement: Bachelor’s degree
Median Annual Salary (2019): $72,850
Expected Job Growth until 2029: 7%
Technical writers are often hired right out of college. They may have bachelor’s degree in English, communications or creative writing. Many also have a background in science, taking courses in biology, chemistry and related fields while in college. In addition, some technical writers go on to earn degrees or take courses in subjects like computer programming or science in order to learn more about their chosen field.
Job Description of a Technical Writer
Technical writers literally translate science. They take the products that their companies make and create things like user manuals, repair manuals and even detailed specs that explain how the machine or other item works. Since these documents are usually aimed at the end user, the writers must translate the information provided by them from the scientists who created the product into something that the average person can understand.
Most technical writers only have a bachelor’s degree in a communications field. However, many have some sort of a science background, which is necessary so that they understand what they are writing about. Although some learn on the job and gain those skills quickly, others find themselves continuing their education with a degree in a science field.
Compensation and Job Growth
According to the most recent figures produced by the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), which were for 2019, technical writers make a median wage of $72,850 per year, or $35 an hour. Some of the people working in this field may earn bonuses as certain milestones are reached. Overall, this particular part of the biotech field is expected to grow at a rate of 7% over the next ten years, which is higher than usual.
Crucial Skills for Technical Writers
The main skills for technical writers include the ability to write, as well as having some scientific knowledge. With that said, they need to be well-organized as well. There are plenty of deadlines that must be hit, and the writers must stay in constant communication with the company’s other teams in order to be made aware of updates and other things on the products that they are writing about.
First and foremost, written communication is incredibly important. Whether a technical writer is updating their boss, sending out a memo to the design team or creating user manuals and lists of technical specifications, they need to be able to communicate clearly in writing. This is why many of these writers have a degree in communications, where they honed their skills.
Although the first skill set that a technical writer will list is communication, they must understand the science behind the products as well. Without a solid science background, they will not be able to translate the products for the general public. Whether they understand chemistry, computer science, biology or another field, these skills are important to have and may require the writer to brush up on their knowledge as the field advances.
A technical writer is often working on multiple projects at once. They might be writing a user manual for one product, while putting together a technical diagram on another. With multiple deadlines to juggle, as well as many people to stay in communication with, it’s clear that organization, the ability to multi-task, and the skills required to do many things at once are very important for someone with this job.
Technical writers are the vehicle for ensuring that important biotech products are well explained to the general public. For those who have a passion for both science and writing combined, a career in technical writing may be the highly in-demand job in the booming biotech world you’ve been looking for.