RE: real tech writers? RE: Out-of-Work Tech Writers and Switching Careers

Subject: RE: real tech writers? RE: Out-of-Work Tech Writers and Switching Careers
From: Michele Marques <msmarques -at- rogers -dot- com>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Mon, 24 Jun 2002 07:29:20 -0400

Ed Manley complains that the reason technical writers are paid such a low rate is that they are largely composed of failures from other computer areas (customer service, analysts) with no special skill or desire to being a technical writer.

(1) Just because someone used to work in customer service or as a programmer/analyst doesn't mean that they didn't choose to work as a technical writer. I always wanted to be a writer, but when in university I decided it would be more lucrative to work with computers, I never realized there was a technical writing field. I've worked as both a programmer/analyst and as a computer helpdesk rep, but I left those fields because I finally found out about the career that I really wanted.

(2) Most positions for technical writers don't just accept people with any background... they require people with experience as a technical writers and/or with training in technical writing, computer science, or English. If it were an entry-level position, you might be able to shift your career from another related career, but for intermediate and senior positions you are expected to have years of experience as a technical writer. This list is often has posts from recent grads from technical writing programs complaining about how all positions seem to require experience.

(3) In my experience, I have always earned more as a technical writer than as a customer service rep, so I don't know why anyone would claim that it's the people who fail as customer service reps who move into technical writing. If anything, a customer service rep might see technical writing as a way to move up in the computer industry.

- Michele Marques
msmarques -at- rogers -dot- com

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