1. What students can learn now to help them prepare
Read everything you can get your hands on, and not just technical
stuff. A budding tech writer needs to have a broad base of working
knowledge. Over and over, you will be asked to come into a new
situation cold and quickly become an "instant expert," learning the
process or product well enough to teach others about it.
So keep that cortex limber: be reading and learning all the time.
And write. If you can find a good editor to work with, latch on to
that person like a barnacle, and write (for publication if you can) as
often you can.
2. What colleges are good to attend for this type of work (I know
these don't precisely correspond to those with "technical writing" as
Attend the *very best* college or university that you can (a) get into
and (b) afford; your course of study matters much less than being
challenged to write and think by good instructors and having
intelligent peers to help you grow intellectually as well.
You don't have to go to an Ivy League school, but be aware that the
resemblance of most colleges these days to actual institutions of
higher learning is purely architectural; make sure that you're getting
value for the dollars you and/or your parents are spending.
3. What salary range could they expect
The STC salary survey provides good guidelines for what starting
technical writers make in various parts of the US.
Note that these high school students, should they become tech writers,
will be competing with tech writers in offshore locations who make in
a range from $USD 10-15K per year; to be successful in the long term,
tech writers must develop their "soft skills" and also pick areas to
work in that are difficult to outsource or offshore.
Getting a well-rounded understanding of the business world is an
immense help; take some basic business classes at college, and read
the Wall Street Journal at the library or take advantage of the cheap
student subscription rates.
Barry Campbell <barry -at- campbell-online -dot- com>
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Introduction: From: Sherrill Fink
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