Re: What Defines "Entry-Level"?

Subject: Re: What Defines "Entry-Level"?
From: Denise Fritch <dfritch -at- INTELLICORP -dot- COM>
Date: Tue, 21 Apr 1998 10:17:42 -0700

Hello Jeff,

>Specifically, when one is seeking to enter the technical communications
>field, what defines "Entry-Level"?

"Entry-Level" will be defined by the employer, not as a generic label. Even
a description of what constitutes the "technical communications field" is
sort of vague.

Recently a discussion on this list included a description of the experience
and professional knowledge of a "technical writer". That discussion
included posts that defined a "technical writer" based upon computer
language knowledge. Yet that description would only fit a limited sub-set
of software technical writers, not the technical writing field in general.

I work in the heart of Silicon Valley, yet during the past decade I've
noted a number of "technical writer" want-ads in the local newspaper for
someone to produce instructional manuals for automotive repair. The
background and experience desired certainly wouldn't fit writers from the
computer industry. In the early 90s, I managed a technical writing group
that wrote, among other documents, service manuals involving mechanical,
chemical, and electrical systems for a microfiche printer. The service
manual writer had no knowledge of software writing, even depending upon
another writer to describe the diagnostics software used by the service
technician. Yet both writers (service and software) are technical writers.

My question for you is what industries in your area have need for a writer?
Are there manufacturing plants in your area that have need for documentated
procedures? Or, perhaps a large corporation needing a personnel manual,
maybe even one on-line? What about documentation on product packaging, or
included in the package? I'm afraid that you are going to have to define
"technical writing" in terms of what opportunities are available in your area.

>In terms of the tech writing field, then, -am- I only at entry level,
>and should those be the types of positions I aim for?

Are you an "entry level" writer? No, not with your experience.
Inexperienced in some forms of writing? Certainly. Even the most
experienced writer needs time to adjust in a new job, what with the
differences in style, product, even corporate environment.


Denise L. Fritch

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