“I’m getting a glimpse into what I believe to be the demise of technical
- Jared Spool, “Where Did Technical Writing Go?”
Demand isn’t shrinking, it’s changing. In Ohio, MSN Career showed 83 jobs for a recent 30-day period, and 20 were in Cleveland. Dice.com listed over 900 “Technical Writer” jobs. Monster.com posted 1600. No shortage exists.
A technical writer creates communication in “plain English”, that anyone can understand. Good writing is a required skill in short supply. You gain a high-demand skill and job flexibility.
Writing skills work in any market and industry. They give flexibility to work any time or place, as a full or part time freelancer, contractor, or professional employee for all kinds of organizations.
Pay rates vary by knowledge, experience, skill, and how well you present and sell yourself. Writing talent can be tailored for you and the market.
You can find technical writing jobs in hundreds of markets.
Today’s technical writer covers web copy and formatting, or the use of graphics and layout tools for design and publication. But writing is not limited or exclusive to the web.
- Sales and marketing collateral: Promotional letters, brochures,
literature, or catalogs are designed to sell specific products and services.
- Competitive/Business Intelligence collection & analysis (written about in a previous column)
- Policies, procedures, guidelines, standards
- Proposals: Projects, Bids, Grants, Sponsors, Books, Speakers
- Technical manuals, instructions, white papers, reports, training materials
- Articles for technical publications: Kim Kommando, the “Tech Goddess”, columnist and radio host, hires writers to respond to inquiries from her listeners and readers. This is common industry practice.
- Press releases
- Newsletter, column, “how-to” guides
- Ghosted articles or books, or editing
- Translations or transcriptions
- Speeches, biographies, profiles, resumes
- Certification exam questions and study guides
Where to find writing “jobs”
- Buy Writer’s Market online or from a bookstore. It has everything you need.
- Sign-up and bid for jobs at www.eLance.com.
- Search “Craig’s List” online for “writer” jobs.
- Look for local writers and authors groups where your services can be utilized.
- Seek writer leads on Charli-Jane speaker bureau site
- Subscribe to writer magazines or read at your local library.
- For publications that don’t pay, you gain visibility and published clips
for work samples.
- Contact recruiters and contract staffing agencies, government agencies,and non-profits in technology fields
- Look at web sites for companies that require hardware and software
documentation. Jobs may not be listed as “Technical Writer”.
- Search online job sites and boards.
- Visit associations or trade groups for posted job openings at their web sites.
- Check at colleges with technical curriculums and research libraries.
- Join trade groups or attend events for like-minded professionals: The Society for Technical Communication or the International Association of Business Communicators. Others exist in
media, journalism, and technology.
What Skills Do You Need?
- A degree in Communication, Journalism, English, or experience will often be required, and writing in the field where you seek a position. Written and
verbal communication skills must be sharp. You must organize and prioritize against set deadlines.
- Software Usability and Interactive Design were themes at the Society of Technical Communication’s (STC) 2007 Conference.
- Also required: Computer skills in office suites, knowledge of web design methods, graphics software experience, or specialized software to design training or help utilities. Both PC and MAC are used.
Pick a topic you know well and look for fields that need your expertise.
Conclusion and Call to Action
Don’t wait for an opening-go out and find where you can help. Make your availability and expertise known.
The written word is not going away. Your writing and communication skills give you a big jump on any job market.
Coming next: Visit us when we write next month on job trends in the red-hot health field.
Best Regards, Debbie Christofferson. CISSP,CISM
Subscribe to “Career Briefings” for leading edge tips to guide your career. Send your name and email to me at DebbieChristofferson@earthlink.net or phone 480-988-4194.
Debbie shares 20 years of Fortune 500 management experience across the US, Europe and Asia. She consults, speaks and writes on security, technology and career growth strategies.
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