Speculating about salaries (was RE: Tech Writer Lawsuit)

Subject: Speculating about salaries (was RE: Tech Writer Lawsuit)
From: "Combs, Richard" <richard -dot- combs -at- Polycom -dot- com>
To: "Collin Turner" <straylightsghost -at- gmail -dot- com>, "Gene Kim-Eng" <techwr -at- genek -dot- com>, <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com>
Date: Tue, 20 May 2008 16:20:29 -0600

Collin Turner wrote:

> Wow Richard...I don't know who's trapped where.
> Colorado either still has a gap or doesn't pay its programmers much. I

> don't
> know which.
> State or Area Yearly Salary Change 2002 2006Colorado $64,000
> $72,000
> +$8,000
> Source: http://www.school-for-champions.com/techwriting/salary.htm

My knowledge of area salaries is limited, and the Rocky Mtn. STC hasn't
updated their survey since 2005 (and members always criticized it for
"low-balling" salaries), so take everything that follows with a grain of

That $72k number seems a bit low, but not too far out of line if this is
the 2006 median for all tech writers, including the people with
Associate degrees (or less) and five or fewer years of experience. For
senior-level tech writers (6+ years) with a BS/BA or better, I suspect
you have to add $10-15k -- more like $15-30k for really competent people
in high-tech industries.

I'm sure there are more programmers/engineers making six-figure salaries
than tech writers, but the latter do exist. And quite a few others
aren't that far behind.

> Granted, this is a couple of years ago, and that's decent pay, I won't

> deny.
> But I need to ask...why are we sitting here eating our own?

I don't think of encouraging self-responsibility and discouraging
whining and finger-pointing to be "eating our own." I consider it a
valuable service. :-)

Gene Kim-Eng wrote:

> I did a quick lookup and found posted salaries for
> current programming positions in Colorado from a
> low of $66k to a high of $83k, with a median of
> $77k.
> A $72k salary in the Denver area is equivalent to
> about $108k in Silicon Valley, which would not be
> bad at all.

I'm even less sure of programmer/engineer salaries than those of tech
writers. But those numbers sound low to me, and the high end seems way
too low. I know there are engineers making $100k or better.

I suspect the job title (remember that thread?) may be one factor. In
the high-tech fields where I've spent time (telecom and software), they
don't look for "programmers," but for "software engineers." I think the
"programmer" job title is often used for relatively routine maintenance
programmer jobs usually filled by relatively inexperienced, modestly
educated people.

I know Gene is in California -- don't know about you, Collin. But Gene's
right: there's a significant cost-of-living differential between Denver
and places like NY or CA. You can live pretty well on $80-100k here,
partly because you didn't have to spend $800k for a modest home. :-)



Richard G. Combs
Senior Technical Writer
Polycom, Inc.
richardDOTcombs AT polycomDOTcom
rgcombs AT gmailDOTcom


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Re: Tech Writer Lawsuit: From: Tim Mantyla
RE: Tech Writer Lawsuit: From: Combs, Richard
Re: Tech Writer Lawsuit: From: Collin Turner
Re: Tech Writer Lawsuit: From: Gene Kim-Eng

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