Re: career path in the third and fourth decades?
It's my impression that even the best technical writers will hit a glass
ceiling long before they complete a 40- or 45-year career, unless they
adjust their careers away from technical writing. ... What changes in direction did you make to
stay marketable while using the skills you've acquired? I
I guess this means I only have three years to go before I smack my head on that ceiling. I wish someone would have told me.
Seriously Monica, every career, from panhandler to rocket scientist, has a plateau, but a plateau is not a ceiling. People burn out and need to take a break, companies can only offer so much opportunity, some managers become jerks, some can't think out of the box if their life depended on it and some people just like their position and have no desire to become king of the hill. For the latter, I say good luck. No job is totally secure anymore...just ask those 30,000 GM assembly line workers.
I've been a staff writer making good money with excellent benefits and a consultant making gobs more money with no benefits. I like the latter and it's a sure way to eliminate that feeling of a glass ceiling, but going into business for yourself is not for everyone. Many who try don't last beyond their first gig, because they find it so much easier to be that staff writer who gets regular cost of living pay increases, etc. I've just never been that type of person.
When I burned out years ago after 10 years as a staff writer, I moved to Alaska where I finished my BA, then became a magazine publisher, book author, business journalist, videographer (cover 1,000 mile sled dog races and other extreme winter sporting events), freelance photographer and web designer. When a divorce left me with two teenagers to raise and a mortgage to pay, I became operations/marketing manager for a statewide computer sales/service chain. The latter helped me keep afloat until the kids flew the coop and helped score a job writing software documentation for BLM/Alaska after the kids left the nest. (I spent a lot of time learning new software programs so I could sell them.) That BLM job in turn helped me score tech writing gigs when I returned to "America" in 2000. Today, I do web design, consulting (online Help, website content and publications) and I sell photographic prints. I've so darn busy enjoying this thing called life that I didn't see that ceiling. My only frustration right now is I don't have time to learn painting (water color and oil).
Sure, younger folks can be hired for less money, but only when you don't do a good enough sales job to justify your rates if you're a consultant, or justify your salary if your a staff writer. When I was running the computer store, I kept people who wanted to learn and grow and were interested in the company's success. I let go the one's who just were only looking for a comfortable retirement. The majority of the people who stayed with the company were older me (I was 35) and we enjoyed a long run of success.
Anyway, that's my opinion.
Al Geist, Geist Associates
Technical Writing, Online Help, Marketing Collateral, Web Design, Award Winning Videos, Professional Photography
E-mail: al -dot- geist -at- geistassociates -dot- com <mailto:al -dot- geist -at- geistassociates -dot- com>
URL: www.geistassociates.com <http://www.geistassociates.com> (online portfolio/resume)
URL: www.geistimages.com <http://www.geistimages.com> (fine art prints for home or office and note cards for all occasions)
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career path in the third and fourth decades?: From: Monica Cellio
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