RE: [BULK] Re: Questions on the Business End of Things

Subject: RE: [BULK] Re: Questions on the Business End of Things
From: "Phillip Gochenour" <pgochenour -at- loansoft -dot- com>
To: <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com>
Date: Wed, 19 Apr 2006 14:05:23 -0700

>Facts of life, I'm afraid. Some occupations are more suited to high
>level advancement than others. I do know of a couple of director/VPs
>who started up the ladder from tech writing positions, but in addition
>to project and personnel management they also added business process
>administration and improvement to their repertoire, both of which bore
>me to tears. Sometimes just have to choose between climbing the ladder

>and being able to spend your days doing things you prefer doing.

This has become a real concern to me lately, having hit what I think is
the top-end of what I can earn as a tech writer in an area with a very
high cost of living (San Francisco). I'm also very concerned about the
"marginal" nature of being a tech writer that I've experienced in my
longer-term positions.

I came into tech writing somewhat serendipitously two years ago after
leaving the academic world, and decided that I would try to puruse it as
a profession shortly thereafter. In almost all of the work I've done
that wasn't directly related to a project, I've found myself in very
marginal positions within the corporate hierarchy, usually struggling to
incorporate my work more directly with the rest of the company. I also
realized that I'm on the lower end of the pay scale in comparison to the
project managers, developers, account managers, and others I work with
on a daily basis. And when the going gets tough, the tech writers seem
to be regarded as the most expendable of employees.

This has all generally turned me off to the idea of making a long-term
serious career in tech writing. From my own experiences and talking with
others, as well as things posted here, it seems like a job that involves
much tedious work, struggling to have one's work seen as having value
within the corporate structure, and, in the end, there is a glass
ceiling that prevents advancement in terms of position and earnings. I'm
sure that these issues vary from company to company, but this is my
general impression.

I've considered getting more specialized training, and have worked to
learn new software and technologies, and I do have a big interest in
things like information design and management. But, unless I get an
advanced degree in tech writing, business management, or
programming/software development, I don't know how I'm going to progress
into other work. I enjoy aspects of being a tech writer, like the
processes of learning and writing about things, but I don't enjoy the
knowledge that I'm essentially stuck in a specific role and function. My
ambition is to make more money (it would be nice to one day be able to
afford a car, and an apartment that's big enough for both me and my
partner), but also to have work where I feel that I wield some influence
over what I'm doing, and where what I do is regarded as making a
significant contribution. I realize I may simply have had bad
experiences up to this point in my various work environments, but they
have been consistent enough that I wonder what it takes to get into one
of those "good" positions.



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