Re: Career Path

Subject: Re: Career Path
From: Dave Whelan <agi259 -at- FREENET -dot- MB -dot- CA>
Date: Fri, 31 Jan 1997 21:02:09 -0600

Emily asked "What is the career path for a technical writer?"

My career path for the first 30 years of my working life in telecoms
engineering led from an apprenticeship to test and installation, to design
engineering, to project management, to technical administration. Although
technical writing was not my main responsibility, I did a lot of it because
I enjoyed it and because none of the companies I worked for ever had a
technical writer on staff.

When I was downsized twice in 4 years from management positions, I decided
to abandon my career path and become a freelance technical writer. I have
made my living this way for the last 5 years.

My advice to anyone thinking of a career in technical writing is to think
about whether you like it first. If you don't much enjoy writing and you are
just looking for place from which to start your climb up the corporate
ladder, sales or accounting might offer a more promising leg up.

If you enjoy technical writing, aim to become a professional technical
writer rather than a traveller on a career path. Treat your professional
life as your most important investment. Instead of asking whether a certain
course of action will get you further up the management ladder of the
company you happen to be working for at the time, ask whether it will make
you a better technical writer.

This way you will become as good a writer as you can be, you will acquire
valuable and portable skills, and you will demonstrate desirable traits that
will get you noticed. Your writing career will expose you to other
interesting aspects of information engineering. In due course you will get
more than your fair share of opportunities. You might even consider
abandoning the traditional corporate career path by starting your own small
business as a freelance technical writer.


Dave Whelan, Freelance Technical Writer
Whelan Technical Services (204) 334-1339

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