Technical Editor Job Description
Technical editors edit technical writing, communicate with technical writers, and define content goals. This position is typically offered full time. Technical editors work in an office environment where they check the quality of written material, although some employers offer remote positions. Employers that hire technical editors include IT companies, research facilities, government agencies, aerospace manufacturers, and software publishers. Those who are well-suited to this career have a firm grasp of complex technical topics and experience with editorial guidelines.
Technical Editor Duties and Responsibilities
No two technical editors are exactly alike, as specific skills vary from employer to employer. However, after analyzing online job postings, we identified several core duties and responsibilities common to the job:
Check Grammar, Punctuation, and Style
Technical editors edit technical documents. They look at grammar, punctuation, spelling, and style. When they identify errors, they correct them.
Give Feedback to Writers
After reviewing the work of technical writers, technical editors give feedback on their copy. They advise writers on their work and make sure that all content meets company standards.
Define Content Goals
Technical editors develop goals for content, including workflow amounts and the direction and aim of writing. They communicate these goals with writers and ensure these goals are met.
In order to streamline processes for writers, technical editors develop templates that are easy to adapt and apply.
Conduct Quality Assurance
Technical editors conduct quality assurance for technical brochures, advertisements, newsletters, marketing material, and more. They look to see that the documents are printed correctly and that all print specifications are accurate.
Technical Editor Skills and Qualifications
Technical editors have a strong familiarity with grammar, spelling, and punctuation. With a proven ability to write and edit digestible technical content, they make complex topics easy to understand. In addition to a bachelor’s degree and over three years of experience, employers look for candidates with the following skills and qualifications:
- Style manual expertise – technical editors have experience working with a variety of style guides. Depending on their employer, they are familiar with AP Style, the Chicago Manual of Style, or the specific style manual for their company
- Publishing experience – technical editors have prior experience in publishing, whether print or online. They are familiar with the various stages of writing and editing that a piece undergoes before publication
- Knowledge of technical concepts – technical editors ensure that complex topics get translated into digestible and understandable text. They understand the technical aspects of their company and industry and can relate this information back to readers
- Attention to detail – editing texts requires technical editors pay careful attention to details. They notice spelling mistakes, errors in spacing, and grammar mistakes
- Communication Skills – technical editors use strong verbal and written communication skills to work with writers. They communicate goals with others and provide constructive feedback so that writing meets company guidelines
Technical Editor Education and Training
Technical editors typically hold a bachelor’s degree in English or journalism, and they have specialized knowledge of their employer’s technical field. Employers prefer technical editors to have at least three years of prior experience in technical writing or editing. On-the-job training is provided in order for technical editors to understand the style guides and procedures used at their company.
Technical Editor Salary and Outlook
The median annual salary for technical editors is $53,000. The lowest-earning 10 percent in this field make less than $37,000; the highest earners make more than $85,000. Technical editors who work full time typically receive benefits such as health insurance, sick and vacation days, and bonuses based on company or individual performance.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, very little growth is expected for editor positions in the next 10 years. Print publications face challenges competing with online media. Although there is growth for editors in online media, the decline in print media positions will temper overall growth.
Are you interested in learning more about technical editors? We’ve gathered some helpful resources to get you started.
Developing Quality Technical Information – author Michelle Carey explains how to design product interfaces and technical information. With a goal of helping readers create great content, she discusses nine qualities of technical information, including accuracy, clarity, organization, style, task orientation, and visual effectiveness
Technical Writing Process – Kieran Morgan, who has worked as a senior technical writer for high-profile companies in Australia, explains the five steps involved all forms of technical writing, such as user guides, manuals, and procedures. Full of practical advice, this book aims to demystify the process of technical writing
ClickHelp Technical Writing Blog – this blog helps technical writers grow their skills. With articles on topics ranging from technical documentation and plain language to technical illustrations and user manuals, it provides a wealth of resources for technical writers to learn more about their craft
Tech Whirl – Tech Whirl is dedicated to content management and technical communication. For technical writing, the site showcases industry news, tips and tricks, and educational articles
Technical Editing – Judith Tarutz reviews grammar and spelling, deals with real-world problems, and provides a checklist for writing. Her guide walks readers through the process of editing a text and improves their skills in technical editing
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