RE: Big bucks in tech writing - are you getting paid?

Subject: RE: Big bucks in tech writing - are you getting paid?
From: "Anita Lewis" <anital -at- threerivers-cams -dot- com>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Wed, 23 Oct 2002 11:48:28 -0500

Question: How many technical writers work on a fixed salary basis
(professional exemption [no overtime compensation]) vs. being paid
overtime for the hours contributed to a program (non-exempt [overtime
compensation]) that exceed the standard work week?


Since I work for a smallish company, I have several different roles, of
which about 30% is tech writing. In my previous position as a lone tech
writer, I started to experience the burnout (more accurately, boredom).
I've always enjoyed traveling and teaching, so I thought I'd like to get
more involved with that aspect of the software business.

My current position is a perfect job for me, a combination of travel for
training, writing (mostly technical, although sometimes marketing),
project management, product testing, and even tech support. I've always
wanted to be a writer, so having tech writing as part of my job fulfills
that for me.

I get paid a base salary with no extra compensation for overtime, but
usually I'm only working overtime when I am traveling for business. I
get a nice daily training bonus, so every trip I take is extra money,
plus I keep my frequent flyer miles, which will someday pay off (I
hope). I've been in this position for about 18 months, and I plan to
stay as long as they'll have me while I live in the area. We're on the
cusp of a growth explosion, and have not really been affected by the
poor economy. I won't get burned out here for a long time, since I am
always going to new places and meeting new people, and we keep building
new versions of our product.

I'm one of those rare-cat writers, a definite extrovert. I relish that
I get to spend plenty of time directly with the users, either on the
phone or at their sites. It makes the documentation I produce so much
better. I'm always learning from the users and continually improving
the docs based either on their direct feedback or the questions they ask
during training.

My only concern is that my skills won't translate well in the UK, where
I may wind up moving within the next couple of years. The only plan I
have at this point is to start researching the TW/Tech Training market
about a year before I leave, so I'll have some time to acquire different
skills if needed.

I'm definitely from the school of "work to live". I don't really care
how much money I make as long as it pays my bills and leaves some left
over to adequately spoil my nieces <g>. I don't buy in to our society's
pressures for status and their subsequent definition of success. I
measure my success by my level of happiness and also the fulfillment I
get from my personal relationships, and finally, what I am able to give
to my community.

I think that about covers a variety of the questions that have been
posed recently.

Anita Lewis
Training and Customer Support
Three Rivers Systems, Inc.
St. Louis, MO

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