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Subject:Re: career path From:John Engler <spillman!jengler -at- UUNET -dot- UU -dot- NET> Date:Fri, 31 Jan 1997 13:45:16 -0700
I've been in the field (fell in by accident) for about a year and have
worked for a large (over 600 employees) and a small company (under 60).
My perception of a career path in tech-writing is that there's not a lot
of room for upward mobility--three levels are all I've seen
(tech-writers of varying experience, team leaders, and department
managers) and many companies only have two levels or even one. And the
thing is is that once you leave the level of tech-writer, you aren't so
much a writer any more as an editor/manager/project coordinator/whatever.
From what I can see, the only room for tech-writers to move up (assuming
they want to remain writers) is in salary and "title" (for example, from
junior to senior writer). And of course the way this is done is by
improving your skill set and putting in your time (and sometimes a
certain about of job-hopping).
But I think there is certain amount of appeal in lateral movement, that
is, shifting to different areas in the profession. Having worked for
different sized companies, I have found each has their own set of
opportunities. And I imagine that the situation is similar between
different areas of the marketplace (for example, between scientific tech-
writing and software tech-writing) although I have only been involved in
the software arena. And there are also offshoot areas to break into, for
example, marketing or indexing.
And so I have to believe that while there doesn't seem to be a lot of
future as far as prestige and big money for someone who really enjoys the
writing part of tech-writing, there seems to be plenty of opportunities
for satisfying employment, whatever your pleasure.