Mobility in Our Profession

Subject: Mobility in Our Profession
From: "George F. Hayhoe" <gfhayhoe -at- SCESCAPE -dot- NET>
Date: Mon, 10 Feb 1997 09:15:52 -0500

Dawn Langley asked about mobility.

Technical communicators can have significant opportunities for advancement
and can enjoy long and satisfying careers in our field. (I define
"satisfying" as continuing opportunities to learn and explore new
challenges.) But some companies--and some technical communicators--do not
appreciate the level of experience required to perform more advanced jobs
in our field.

Some companies--and some managers--have a very mature understanding of our
work and pay, promote, and challenge their documentation employees
accordingly. Others treat our work as something a reasonably intelligent
clerk can do. These are the companies that advertise for "senior" technical
writers with 2 years of experience. (What scares me is that yesterday I saw
a job ad for a software documentation group manager with 2 years of

I don't necessarily define experience as cumulative years on the job. We
all know people with 10 years of experience and others with one year's
experience repeated 10 times.

It would be interesting to see whether there's any correlation between the
extremes on the continuum of understanding of our profession that I've
noted and JoAnn Hackos' process maturity model for publication
organizations. My guess is that there is indeed a strong relationship! I
would also guess that there's a similar correlation of documentation
employee job satisfaction level.

I don't agree that our earning capacity depends on our parents'. The best
companies pay their documentation employees on the same scale as their
engineers or programmers. I know plenty of engineers and programmers who
hail from middle-class families.

--George Hayhoe (gfhayhoe -at- scescape -dot- net)

George Hayhoe Associates
Voice: 803-642-2156
Fax: 803-642-9325

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