Titles vs. Duties

Subject: Titles vs. Duties
From: DocuMania <dcma -at- MAIL1 -dot- NAI -dot- NET>
Date: Wed, 15 Jan 1997 22:00:13 -0500

Robert Plamondon wrote, "I once interviewed a man for an opening I had for
an experienced technical writer. It turned out that he had never written
anything, and didn't expect that he ever would write anything. Nor did he
want to. He had fifteen years' experience as a 'technical writer' for a
high-tech company. His tasks were apparently limited to light copy-editing,
managing review cycles, and word processing. Secretarial work."

Please allow me to clarify an apparent misconception. Having worked as a
secretary, I've never seen a job of that title "limited to light
copy-editing, managing review cycles, and word processing. Secretarial work."

Rather, secretarial work constitutes phone, mailings, scheduling, filing,
internal-paperwork shuffling, plus lots of photocopying and faxing. Some
lucky ones get to do their bosses' proposals or presentations. Same is true
at somewhat higher pay and stress level for administrative assistants.

I do secretarial/admin work to keep bread on the table because I can't find
conventional (vs. freelance) work in copy-editing/proofreading or word
processing. Meanwhile, sec./admin. jobs are abundant. Should I be looking
in the Technical Writer section of the Help Wanted ads, then? I've always
skipped them because all I can do is documentation QC (formatting, editing,
proofing), whereas I would assume that Technical Writers are expected to

For that matter, what's the difference between a Technical Writer and a
Technical Editor?

Carolyn Haley
dcma -at- ct1 -dot- nai -dot- net

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