Re: Subject Matter Expertise-YES!

Subject: Re: Subject Matter Expertise-YES!
From: "Samuel Choy" <schoy -at- us -dot- ibm -dot- com>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Fri, 28 Feb 2003 12:33:51 -0600

Ok, Ok, so I'm going to kick the dead horse a few more times. While I was
sitting at my desk, eating my lunch of home-made pizza with "real"
soy-cheese (my kids are allergic to milk products), I had a question on
the subject.

Most of the discussion has been around whether or not being an SME, or a
least having some knowledge on your topic, makes you a better technical
writer. I personally think it does, but since the arguments for and against
have been pretty much exhausted, I'm not going there. My question is the
following: What does the market want (I have an opinion already, which I
will state later)? So I did quick search using the key words "technical
writer" on Following are highlights from the qualifications
section of the first 12 hits. I did not pick and choose, the hits. This
list is from the first twelve hits.

1. proven success as a Technical Writer within the pharmaceutical or
medical device industry
2. Knowledge of CFR 21 part 11 a plus. Knowledge or experience of VB,
Excel, Access, JAVA and Weblogic a plus
3. Writing and developing technical manuals for electronic equipment and
systems iaw MIL-STD-38784.
4. MS Word; MS WordPro; ESM Hub support
5. ASE or State Certified Auto Mechanic, automotive tech experience,
technical authoring a plus!!!
6. BS or BA in a scientific discipline preferred.
7. Must have knowledge of Networking, and Flowcharting experience with
8. A M.S. in a biological science and/or experience in editing scientific
manuscripts or grant proposals is desirable.
9. May require an associate's degree in a related area and 3-5 years of
experience in the field or in a related area
10. Education: BS Degree in Biology, Chemistry, Microbiology or other
biological science.
11. looking for an individual that has an English Major.
12. Familiarity with HTML and web design. Prior experience with one or more
backup products.

First of all, I will be the first to admit that this sample from over 700
hits is hardly a scientific sample. But I think this supports my opinion
(here it is) that far more companies are looking for technical writers
with previous technical knowledge than for technical writers without. Many
don't seem to care how you got it, as long as you can prove you have it.
This may seem obvious. But I think that if you want to be relevant and
marketable, you need to have some kind of technical knowledge. And it
doesn't matter how passionately you feel about not needing to be an SME,
you are not going to change what the market wants.

Ok. I'm done with my pizza and need to get back to work. Please keep the
flames to a limit as this is the first time I've jumped into the middle
(the tail end, possibly) of a controversial though informative and
fascinating thread.

Samuel Choy

My opinions are my own, and not IBMs


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