Re: What is a Senior Technical

Subject: Re: What is a Senior Technical
From: "Wing, Michael J" <mjwing -at- INGR -dot- COM>
Date: Thu, 13 Jun 1996 08:37:16 -0500

>From: Tony Rocco[SMTP:tony_rocco -at- NAVIS -dot- COM]
>Sent: Wednesday, June 12, 1996 12:09 PM
>To: Multiple recipients of list TECHWR-L
>Subject: What is a Senior Technical

>The term Senior Technical Writer gets bandied about quite a lot. Most
>notices specify a senior-level writer, never just a regular old
>writer. I want to know what distinguishes a senior level writer from an
>intermediate one from a junior one. Are there any universally accepted
>criteria? Is it simply number of years? Also, please don't use this
>as a jumping off point for another tedious discussion about
>don't want to hear the pros and cons of that again.

I've worked at or interviewed at a wide range of companies and have seen
Technical Writers classified from Technicians/Draftsmen to Engineers.
Often the attitude of the company toward documentation skills dictates
the Writer's classification. Many companies value good documentation
skills, whereas others view them as "soft" skills.

Some titles seem dependent on the size of the company. A small company
may only have one (or a few writers). This doesn't leave much room for
a multi-tiered
hierarchy of writing levels. Often the workload of handling the writing
tasks single-handedly may dictate that the person perform at a senior
level. Conversely, other companies do not (or do not want to) recognize
the skills required for documentation and instead, have them rewrite
Engineer's writing and perform clerical tasks.

Some small companies that I have known have made the Writer part of the
Engineering team. Others, to promote a perceived level of expertise
they would title everyone Senior or higher.

A larger company may be more regimented in their classifications. They
may tend to set minimum standards. These standards may be years of
experience +performance review ratings +internal rankings (usually
unknown to the Writer).

I worked for a small company where I was the only writer. I entered as
a Technician (they had no classification for writers) and left as an
Product Engineer. I presently work for a large company. This company
recognizes four levels of writer - Technical Writer; Senior Technical
Writer; Principal Technical Writer; and Staff Writer. The distinctions
are based on years of experience and ability, responsibilities, and
amount of supervision required (general, limited, or works

A Technical Writer will be assigned work by management or through a
higher level writer. The Technical Writer's work is monitored by the
same. As the levels progress, the writer works more independently.
They have less supervision, handle more complex assignments, perform TW
research, work closer to vendors, and have greater input on the content
and direction of the documents and tools to produce them.


>_/ Michael Wing
>_/ Principal Technical Writer
>_/ Jupiter Customization and Educational Services
>_/ Intergraph Corporation
>_/ 730-7250
>_/ mjwing -at- ingr -dot- com

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