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To: Multiple recipients of list TECHWR-L
Subject: Career survey
Date: Thursday, March 24, 1994 5:17PM
I hope you won't find this too intrusive or personal, but I was
hoping to get some feedback from my fellow Tech Writers. I now have
nearly 2 1/2 years Tech Writing experience working for a contractor
for the Gov't. There is job security, but the pay STINKS and the
work isn't very challenging. I've been sending out resumes for about
six months or so, but haven't really gotten a lot of responses (or
interviews). I REALLY want to get out of here, and am now wondering
if I'm under/over-qualified, don't have enough experience, if
there are few opportunities around here (Indiana), etc. or what?
Would you all be kind enough to answer a few questions for me so I
can get a sense of "what it takes" and what I'm up against for a
new job?! Thank you very much in advance for taking some time to
give me some info. and any advice you might wish to offer!
P.S. - I have a B.A. in English Writing and Communications if that
makes any difference to anyone! And, I recently joined STC!!
1. Do you have a college degree?
If so, what is it in?
BA in English and German
Have you obtained a higher degree? (Masters or PhD?)
Do you feel this has made you more "marketable" and helped you to
obtain the jobs you wanted?
MA in Teaching English as a Second Language
Obviously, I am not currently working in my "chosen" field.
My Master's degree did not make me any more marketable.
2. What kind of training/experience did you have when you got your
first job as a Tech Writer?
I had NO experience as a technical writer. I had a strong
writing background, and had taught writing/composition classes for
several years. I was one of the last "English" people to be hired
in my department. My manager now looks for writers with
3. What are your feelings on the job market in your area? (Please
state where you live.)
I live in Huntsville, AL. There are many jobs for technical writers
the space industry. There have been very few layoffs at my company
(Intergraph). It's a good place to work.
4. OPTIONAL!!! OPTIONAL!! What was your starting salary? And,
stating the number of years experience you now have, what is your
current salary? (Give ballparks if you don't want to specify)
My starting salary was $27,000. I worked at Intergraph for 2.5
years, before taking a year off for maternity leave. I am now back in
the same department as a contract writer. I make $25/hour. In this area it
is possible to make up to $35/hour as a contract writer. I have a great
schedule - I work in the office three days a week, and at home two days a
5. What other positions have you had, other than Tech Writer? (e.g.,
any Graphic Designers, Public Relations, Editors, etc.?)
How does your Tech Writing career compare? (Do you like it
6. Any additional background you'd like to offer? Advice?
My advice is to be as familiar as possible with things like UNIX,
FrameMaker, MicroSoft Word, networking, writing shell scripts.
Thanks again for all of your help. I've already learned a lot from
many of you on this list. :-)
! Heather M. Atkinson, Technical Writer !
! Computer Data Systems, Inc. !
! Crane Division, Naval Surface Warfare Center !
! Crane, Indiana !
! HMA209 -at- SAFETY -dot- NWSCC -dot- SEA06 -dot- NAVY -dot- MIL !