Re: wannabe tech writer

Subject: Re: wannabe tech writer
From: Bruce Byfield <bbyfield -at- axionet -dot- com>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Wed, 26 Dec 2001 15:00:24 -0800

kcronin -at- daleen -dot- com wrote:

Okay, I'll risk some flames and say this: I think MOST tech writers are in
it for the money. Or at least, that's why most of us decide to TRY tech

Well, granted the money looks good if you're just out of school, or if you're comparing tech-writing to flipping burgers. But, if money is the only reason for entering the field, then most of us have fairly low standards. If you compare tech-writing to other positions, the money is adequate, but not much more.

The figures may vary from place to place, but let me use local standards as an example. Entry level salaries are about 40 - 45 thousand. In about three years, a person with moderate ambition can earn about 50 - 55 thousand, but it's very hard to go any further as a full-time employee while still remaining nothing except a technical writer. In fact, I can think of only three ways to do so:

- Become an expert in a field that few other writers know anything about. Of course, if that field stops being in demand, then you're out of luck.

- Become a contractor. In good times, you can easily earn 75-90 thousand. The trouble is, you have more pressure, and good times don't last.

- Become a manager, or branch out into marketing, design, or some other more lucrative position. However, that's not always possible, and, sooner or later it probably means moving out of writing entirely.

Considering these choices, I doubt that many people go into tech-writing for money alone. I suspect that the motivations are more mixed: writers want to earn reasonable money at something that they're good at. If they were motivated by money alone, they could make many smarter career moves.

However, one monetary issue that might attract people to the field is the fact that the gap between male and female wages is much smaller than in many professions - and in some areas seems to be virtually non-existent.

Bruce Byfield 604.421.7177 bbyfield -at- axionet -dot- com

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