Re: Re: Any pharmaceutical tech writers out there?

Subject: Re: Re: Any pharmaceutical tech writers out there?
From: Michelle Petersen <mpetersen74 -at- cox -dot- net>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Wed, 12 Feb 2003 12:34:52 -0500

I recently made a similar switch myself. I spent the last few years writing manuals and online help for software to writing manuals for a diagnostics-focused biotech company. Like Diane, I'm also very happy (so far) with the switch.

How did I make the move to biotech? By a lucky coincidence, my BA is in biology and I worked in a biotech lab for a couple of years out of college before going into tech writing. However, I think that most of the biology knowledge that I use on the job could be obtained from a couple of college courses.

In addition to Diane's suggestions, I would recommend taking an Intro to Moleculary Biology course, a basic college chemistry course, and maybe a Cellular Biology class. Those three classes will give you a decent enough biology/chem background to stand out from other interview candidates who don't. If you'll be documenting products that are used in the lab, learn about basic chemistry lab procedures--most of these concepts are transferable. (You probably wouldn't apply for a job writing C++ API documentation if you didn't know anything about programming, but you might apply for a job doing C# documentation if you know C++.)

Just my 2 cents...


> How did I get into this? By luck. I am working for a small biotech firm
> that is a "wholly owned subsidiary of Merck Pharmaceuticals." The lab
> needed someone to do documentation; before being hired, I had never even
> heard of 21 CFR Part 11. I was hired for my knowledge of documentation and
> my ability to come where "no man has gone before" and set up a complete
> documentation life cycle and write documents for the software we are
> building here.


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