Right profession for the future?

Subject: Right profession for the future?
From: "Tony G. Rocco" <trocco -at- NAVIS -dot- COM>
Date: Wed, 18 Dec 1996 15:42:46 -0800

Some people have another perspective on what technical writers do. An
anonymous tech writer's opinion follows.

From personal experience, I'd say:

WHAT THEY DO: Read minds. Pull rabbits out of hats. Extrapolate,
>interpolate, deduce, and invent information. Make up stories and pictures
>about esoteric devices and systems, sometimes basing inventions on other,
>more tangible, esoteric devices or systems.

WHERE THEY DO IT: Although many technical writers work for computer firms
>or manufacturers (of which, although a few offer flexible or part-time
>schedules, most want employees on site where they can check up on them to
>see if they're keyboarding steadily from 8 to 5) somewhere between 3% and 10%
>work on a freelance basis (where they can set their own hours, which will
>usually includes weekends, evenings, and holidays, as these people are
>normally employed only in times of crisis).

TRAINING: No one can really say what kind of education or training a
>technical writer should have. No matter what credentials or coursework you
>offer, every employer will want expertise in a different software product,
>as well as many years of experience as an engineer or programmer and the
>ability to read and possibly write at least one computer language. In
>addition to technical experience, you'll need a high tolerance for ambiguity
>and an ability to conceal the absence of concrete information and present
>the same data in many guises. You will rarely be called upon to express
>ideas at all, never mind expressing them clearly and accurately. Computer
>literacy is essential. Language literacy is negotiable.

SALARY: DOE and stature of employer
CAREER OUTLOOK: Promising, primarily because new technology is coming out
>every day, and many companies are outsourcing this kind of work. (Why does
>outsourcing make this a promising field?)

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