Thoughts on tech. writing jobs?

Subject: Thoughts on tech. writing jobs?
From: "Geoff Hart (by way of \"Eric J. Ray\" <ejray -at- raycomm -dot- com>)" <ght -at- MTL -dot- FERIC -dot- CA>
Date: Mon, 7 Dec 1998 08:38:24 -0700

Susan Lenczyk is <<tinkering with the idea of entering the TW field,
but I have a number of questions.>>

<<Are 10- to 12-hour work days the rule rather than the exception? >>

Depends on the industry and how well run the company is. There are
certainly places where this is the norm, particularly after <hah!>
so-called "rightsizing" operations have reduced staff to inadequate
levels, but I personally think that this is a symptom of incompetent
management and a place you probably won't want to work long-term.
When I came to my current job, I made it quite clear during the job
interview that I had no objection to occasional overtime, but that if
it became a regular feature of the job, they'd have to either replace
me with someone who had no life or find me some helpers. If they'd
refused my conditions, I'd have gone elsewhere; I know my worth, and
I won't shortchange myself, arrogant though that may sound. Unless
you're desperate for work, you shouldn't shortchange yourself either.

<<Are TW jobs generally concentrated in certain geographic areas?>>

Yes and no. There are certainly hotbeds of technical writing (e.g.,
Silicon Valley), but any company that produces products for consumers
or the general public needs technical writers. In fact...

<<My employment background is as an editor in the environmental
consulting field and as a grantwriter. I don't have much background
in the nitty-gritty of computers. Would I be considered for a TW

Except for the fact that I'm a serious computer geek, you sound just
like me. The bottom line is that if you're not documenting computer
products, you don't need to have an in-depth computer background
(other than the ability to use typical technical writing tools). For
example, with your background, you'd logically fit well with
companies that do environmental impact studies (as you've noted
already), that produce wastewater treatment systems, that
do biological research on bioremediation, etc. etc. But if you're
a decent writer with good problem-solving and audience empathy
skills, you could probably also learn darn near anything else that
takes your fancy: document installation guides for "assemble it
yourself" furniture, write tour booklets for national parks, and do
anything else you can imagine having printed or online documentation.
Computers and software may well be the most lucrative field (or a
close second to the aerospace industry), but it's only one part of
the overall technical writing picture.

--Geoff Hart @8^{)}
geoff-h -at- mtl -dot- feric -dot- ca

"Patience comes to those who wait."--Anon.

From ??? -at- ??? Sun Jan 00 00:00:00 0000=

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