Re: Techwriting qualifications

Subject: Re: Techwriting qualifications
From: Bruce Byfield <bbyfield -at- progeny -dot- com>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Fri, 26 Jan 2001 11:34:59 -0800

Herman Holtz wrote:
> Tech writing is certainly not what it was when I was in it during the
> Cold War and the frantic building of new weapons. Obviously, the major
> influence today is not that hardware as much as it is software. In the
> opinion of you who are today's tech writers, young ones and old timers, what
> would you specify as the important capabilities and credentials needed by
> today's candidates for tech writing careers. - Herm

I dunno: the ability to find work under the title of "technical

This suggestion is not just a joke. The title is used to cover all
sorts of duties, some of which are not technical (such as marketing)
and not writing (such as usability testing or interface design). I
suppose that all this variation is one reason that some people try
to push "technical communicator" instead, although to me that title
has always sounded pompous and vague.

At any rate, it seems to me that the main qualification is the
ability to balance between the technical and non-technical sides of
a company, and to act as a bridge between them. In other words, it
seems a generalist position, although people can certainly find
niches where they can specialize very narrowly.

In passing, I might mention that, while hardware seems to have
faded, part of the change may be more illusion than reality. Many
jobs are software-oriented, but the software is used to operate
hardware. The whole embedded systems field is a good example of this
field, but you can still find, for example, jobs documenting the
software that runs mining equipment.

Bruce Byfield 604.421.7177 bbyfield -at- progeny -dot- com
Director of Marketing and Communications, Progeny Linux Systems
Contributing Editor, Maximum Linux

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