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Subject:Re: FWD: More problems with equity From:Elna Tymes <etymes -at- LTS -dot- COM> Date:Thu, 5 Feb 1998 14:04:55 -0800
> In your collective experience, is it common for tech
> writers to be remunerated so poorly in relation to other workers, such as
> programmers and engineers?
In a word, very.
In my experience:
1. Once you're an employee, your raises are tied to some artificial
number set by corporate, and linked in some way to the cost of living in
your area. You can get bigger raises by (a) getting a promotion, (b)
doing something so spectacular they give you a bonus, or (c) getting an
offer from another company. And (c) works only if your manager doesn't
call your bluff.
2. Tech writers are occasionally, but rarely, accorded participation in
the same kinds of incentive-based programs offered to programmers, even
though the company may say that it considers tech writers part of the
program development team.
3. Most tech writers have a rapid-growth path lasting about 5-7 years,
after which they tend to hit the top category and either stay there or
move into pubs management. And in many companies, pubs managers have
very limited upward career mobility.
4. If you want to continue to do technical writing and increase your
income, once you've reached the top of your category, you probably
should consider contracting. Generally the pay is better, though the
work involves more marketing activities, and you don't usually get paid
to market yourself.
5. Every now and then there are opportunities to do something new and
special, such as when web sites caught on a couple of years ago. Tech
writers knowing HTML could, at the beginning of that cycle, get some
really juicy contracts as webmasters. Since then, what's required of
webmasters has increased to include a lot of system admin and
programming duties, all of which are learnable but not strictly
technical writing. And companies have discovered that they can hire
webmasters for less than they were shelling out a couple of years ago.
6. With the increased use of Help systems and intranets, the line
between technical writing and programming has gotten fuzzier. If you
can call yourself a programmer, even if you're still doing writing,
you're more likely to be included in the programmer pay scales and be
included in the groups eligible for bonuses.
All that said, it's up to each person to make the choice about the
tradeoffs involved: stability vs. more money, growth vs. feeling
comfortable and confident about what you know, equity participation vs.
higher pay, etc.