Re: Career Path

Subject: Re: Career Path
From: Pete Kloppenburg <pkloppen -at- CERTICOM -dot- CA>
Date: Fri, 31 Jan 1997 13:47:11 -0500

Emily asks:
> What is the career path for a technical writer?

Ow, there's a big question. One I'm curious about as well. I have my
own ideas about a career path, but I'd be very curious about what
others in the industry think.

Do you advance from years experience or number of project releases?

Yes. ;-).
Of course, the answer is both, or either one. There is no substitute
for experience, though I would venture to guess that between those
two choices, I'd go for releases. The process of actually grinding out
documents which reach living breathing users, and doing this on a
schedule is the crux of the job. The more times you do this, the
better equipped you are to plan these things out. That's the only
avenue for advancement as a technical writer per se.

> Are you suppose to excel in one writing tool, or have a working knowledge
> of different types of tools? I realize it would depend on what I want to do...
> ..but I am looking for an industry standard (if there is one).

Tools are secondary to the job, in my mind. Except that they are
important to employers hiring writers when they don't know anything
else to ask about. I've been working as a tech writer for a little less
than a year and a half, and I know Word, RoboHelp, FrameMaker,
FrontPage, Corel, and a whole flock of smaller programs. But the
point is I have to learn the new ones to do what is needed.

Here's my career path: I worked on a team of writers for a year,
then I left for another company to work as the lone writer on
a small team. I'll do that for a while, and if I'm ever masochistic
enough, I'll go somewhere else to manage.

The real question is, do you want to be a tech writer for the rest
of your career? Not me, thanks

Pete Kloppenburg,
Mississauga Ontario

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