Re: Job Information

Subject: Re: Job Information
From: Janie Bergen <BERGEN -at- UNTVAX -dot- BITNET>
Date: Tue, 20 Jul 1993 22:25:33 -0500

>I have decided to stay at Poly for two more quarters to complete my
>technical writing degree. My question to you all is... What is the
>outlook for technical writers?
>I would greatly appreciate advice from any individual involved

> job outlook
> potential salary (in the area of...)
> level of job satisfation
> criteria needed to break in the field (computer skills etc...)

Hi, as a new grad working on her first job I can speak to some
of your concerns.

First, the job outlook is good...but with some qualification to that
statement. After my job search I learned a few things. There are
plenty of jobs but competition is getting stronger. Most people
or companies I contacted wouldn't even interview me because of my
lack of experience in writing, even though I had a lot of computer
experience. I am just finishing up a master's degree in technical
writing and it is evidently not worth much. If I had known what I
know now, I would have volunteered to do free projects while I was
in school. That would have given me "real" experience and something
to put in a portfolio. I've discovered that the kinds of projects
we did for classes in the University of North Texas are basically
worthless in the workplace.

Next, find an experienced technical writer who will agree to be your
mentor, then join the Society for Technical Communication (not
necessarily in that order). You will learn a lot from STC's excellent
journal and from the meetings.

Salaries vary widely from region to region, and vary according to
other factors, too. For instance, contract writers may make more
per hour, but salaried writers have more perks. That's true in any

Job satisfaction---who can measure another person's job satisfaction?
I've been working for a month now and I LOVE it....I get to write and
play with computers all day, and on top of that, I get paid for it!
I'm in heaven!

Skills: Learn the big three word processors (WordPerfect, Word, and
AmiPro), learn DOS and Windows. In this area, I saw a lot of companies
who want experience with Interleaf and FrameMaker. The other writer
in my office just moved here from Orlando and said she'd never heard

of either of those, so regional preferences must be at work here. YOu
canNOT know too much! Learn what new technologies are hot and become
proficient in those technologies. That will give you an edge in the
job market.

I'm sure some more experienced writers will give you some tips, and
I hope they post to the list instead of private e-mail. There are
others who want to know about the current market and about news in
the profession.

Good luck.
Janie Bergen

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