RE: Questions on the Business End of Things

Subject: RE: Questions on the Business End of Things
From: "James Barrow" <vrfour -at- verizon -dot- net>
To: <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com>
Date: Wed, 19 Apr 2006 08:03:02 -0700

>Jon Steiner said:

>What technical writing jobs that you know of pay more than $100K per
>year on the East Coast?

>I see jobs for Senior Technical Writer on the west coast that pay $120K,
>however with the cost of Silicon Valley living, I couldn't see my
>standard of living being better by moving there.

Which west coast are you referring to? I've browsed Dice and Monster
consistently for years and don't ever recall seeing a tech writer position
with a salary quite that high. The best I've seen (in southern California)
is 80k (salary) and $55/hour (contact).

>Do you know of anyone who has ever risen beyond TW to become a VP at a
>company? I think TW is a dead-end job. You become a Senior TW, then a
>Principal TW or a Team Lead or a TW Manager, but it doesn't go any
>higher from there. And I think most companies would have a coronary
>before paying someone with 'writer' in his/her title more than $100K

This is a complex question. Personally, if I'm engaged in a long-term
contract (over one year) I can usually pick up additional responsibilities
and titles (Project Manager, Analyst, etc.). "Dead end" has a negative
connotation - "limited" might be more appropriate. This is not because tech
writers are all one-trick ponies, but rather, we play such a niche role: we
write. Most companies have developers, analysts, PMs, etc., so it's tough
to move up the ladder from the rung that we started on. I would guess that
becoming a VP from a tech writer is more likely if you're part of a startup

>Granted, some people don't want to go 'higher', and 'higher' is, after a
>certain point, merely a frame of mind anyway.

And a higher tax bracket frame, IMHO.

>Some arcane subspecialties command $100K, however, they usually specify
>years of specialized knowledge (usually which a company wishes to
>acquire as cheaply as possible). Additionally, they are tied to the
>fortunes of that industry (I'm thinking specifically of finance writers
>who were laid off en-masse between 2000 and 2004).

Agreed. I can usually get more money when I do SOX documentation, than when
I do simple P&Ps.

>Any recruiters who know of anything for a technical writer with 10 years
>of experience in software and finance, contact me DIRECTLY :)

We might be in the same boat on this one. Writing has become so second
nature to me that I'm looking to branch out. I got PMP certified a few
years ago and by doing this, I was able to approach companies with
cost-savings in mind. For example, I recently found a company that wanted
to hire a tech writer and a project manager for the same project; they were
willing to pay $175,000 for both of these positions. I offered to do both
for substantially less than that, but substantially more than I would have
gotten as a tech writer alone.




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Questions on the Business End of Things: From: Jon Steiner

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