Re: Source for statistics on the technical writing field

Subject: Re: Source for statistics on the technical writing field
From: Peter Neilson <neilson -at- windstream -dot- net>
To: techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com
Date: Mon, 03 Aug 2009 09:30:46 -0400

In my jaundiced opinion almost none of those parameters are useful for
anything that can or should be done, with the possible exception of
granting a PhD in a subject that I would prefer to avoid studying.

What does matter is the trend, slightly obvious to those in the field,
for traditional tech writing to be replaced by "something else."

When the older writers of TECHWR-L started there was more tech writing
to be done than could possibly be accomplished. Computer-human
interfaces were atrocious, and if you didn't RTFM, you were sunk. If
nobody WTFM, you were on your own.

Now the interfaces are decidely better. The Fine Manual, if it even
exists, is rarely needed. Some "help" systems are even actually helpful.

When the manual is needed, to fulfill a requirement or because the
humans still need to understand a goodly body of knowledge, it's often
prepared by people who are not tech writers. (But that happened back in
our Dark Ages, too.)

The age of tech writers themselves means nearly nothing. I, myself, feel
I am 27 years old I but have the hair pattern and the experience to have
accomplished more than can be fitted into five years of career. In the
wisdom department I combine the mind of a sage and the curiosity of an
eight-year-old. Or is it the opposite?

Back to the list of statistics. I think the most distressing part is the
"large corporations" aspect. Which ones? In what phase of their
operations? Are we comparing apples to oranges, to prunes, or to
steamboats? The looseness of the parameters suggests the best bet might
be to state the conclusions desired, and then to select the statistics
required for support. Is this part of a plan for some massive government

john rosberg wrote:
> Tech Writer of the Beast wrote . . . .
>> I would like to obtain some good statistics on the following:
>> Average age?of employed technical writers at large corporations.
>> Length of time technical writers commonly stay in the field.
>> Average age of new hires at large corporations and whether it has changed since 2000.
>> Wage declines (or increases) for technical writers at large corporations over, say, the last decade or perhaps since 2000.
>> Decrease in numbers of technical writers at large corporations since 2000.
>> Outsourcing of technical writing positions since 2000, including information about the countries to which the jobs are outsourced.
>> Anyone know what is the best bet for reliable information on such things?
>> ?
> I suspect you may receive a little more data if you gave some idea about the use to which you wil to put this information, and who you are.

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Source for statistics on the technical writing field: From: john rosberg

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