RE: Future Tech Writer with Software Questions

Subject: RE: Future Tech Writer with Software Questions
From: "Janoff, Steven" <Steven -dot- Janoff -at- hologic -dot- com>
To: Craig Lashley <clashley -at- mail -dot- usf -dot- edu>, "techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com>
Date: Fri, 26 Jun 2015 22:04:16 +0000

Hi Craig,

By now you're probably overwhelmed with the responses.

Congrats on embarking on the new career!

I'm at the far end of my career, and here are my recommendations:

MS Office - Become very proficient at Word (as Dan suggests), but also Excel and PowerPoint, and prepare to use Outlook.

A couple jobs ago I had the best contracting job of my tech writing career, made the best hourly rate, and spent most of my day (for about a 6-month stretch) developing spreadsheets, and increasing my knowledge of Excel on my own hours. It was awesome.

You become a very valuable commodity to managerial types if you have mad skills with Office products. Your ultimate manager, plus the directors, and other executives will make use of your skills, and those are the people whose opinion counts -- they pay the check. This will set you apart from other tech writers who don't have these skills.

Depending on how much a student license costs, I'd then look into MadCap Flare. After that, oXygen XML Editor.

Adobe FrameMaker, not to mention the whole Tech Comms Suite, is sketchy. Frame is still a bread-and-butter tool, but I've seen a number of situations where getting a foot in the door did not require Frame skills.

I disagree that tools are not important -- they are. It's just that I disagree about which ones are most important. Get a real solid grasp on the lower-level tools and you can actually become a valuable commodity. With the higher-level tools, it's the roll of the dice about what a particular company is using and whether that synchs up with whatever you learn. But every company uses Office, or something comparable.


On Thursday, June 25, 2015 4:20 PM, Craig Lashley wrote:


I am currently in school for Technical Communication and will be graduating next Spring. I've been trying to determine what types of software would be best to purchase while I can still get a student discount. I saw a post about Adobe Tech Comm Suite a few days ago. I also see Frame Maker and Dita a lot white doing tech comm searches. Are these worth buying as an individual? I've been told several times to learn HTML. I have a basic understanding for coding such as Java and C++. Is there a legit way to get certified HTML to show a future employer? I've done many walk through tutorials on Youtube, and have a basic concept and understanding of HTML. I feel for a future job having some sort of tangible documentation proving that would benefit me. Are there other certifications outside of a college degree I should look into? There appears to be a large amount of webpages saying they offer certificates, but which ones actually carry weight? I am working on determining what I could be doing outside of going to class to help me really have an upper hand as far as employment in technical writing.



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Future Tech Writer with Software Questions: From: Craig Lashley

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