RE: Is TW Still Hospitable to Novices? A Dilemma

Subject: RE: Is TW Still Hospitable to Novices? A Dilemma
From: "Ehr, Meg" <Meg -dot- Ehr -at- smartworks -dot- com>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Wed, 31 Jan 2001 12:36:24 -0500

Once upon a time, Peter Shea mentioned a friend who was having difficulty
breaking into tech writing...

I think we'd really need more information to determine why this individual
was having such a hard time. What kind of tech writing experience does he
have? What types of jobs was he pursuing? What are his qualifications for
those specific jobs? What market (location and field) is he looking in? And,
quite frankly, why does he want to be a TW in the first place?

I am proof that one can become a tech writer without an IT degree or a TW
certificate (although I was pursuing a certificate when I got my job, I had
completed only the intro to TW and DTP classes). I don't know RoboHelp,
FrameMaker, or Dreamweaver, though I'm sure I could learn all of the above
if necessary. What I did have, though, was extensive experience writing all
sorts of docs (technical and otherwise), with a smattering of training and
project coordination. I constructed my resume specifically to emphasize the
writing/communication aspects of my previous positions, and I had writing
samples that demonstrated a few different skills. I also had significant
luck with employers who saw my resume online and contacted me for

I don't think we can make any generalizations about TW for novices based on
one individual's experiences. If Peter's friend is committed to a career in
TW, focuses on the positions for which he is best qualified, and is
realistic about supply and demand in his market, he should be able to break
in - eventually. As Christine noted, there are many ways to enter TW besides
the front door, and any novice should make use of as many of these as
possible until one works.

Meg Ehr

Develop HTML-Based Help with Macromedia Dreamweaver 4 ($100 STC Discount)
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