Nontechnical sectors do hire technical writing grads but contrary to the occupation’s name, high-tech workplaces should be the last place you apply.
Reason is that every company produces some form of technical communication. Currently, companies are keen to undertake knowledgebase and transformation projects. The path toward gainful employment follows a series of stepping stones.
So if you contribute to the HR Policy & Procedures manual you can transition from administrative to technical. If you formalize department plans or specifications you can transition to more technical gigs. If you’ve become a SharePoint whiz you can leap from permanent to independent work in IT. And for all the project coordinators out there, if you’ve been picked to orchestrate assignments, schedules and deadlines, then go for project management certification.
Here’s a chart showing what grads from selected Vancouver area schools are doing 10 years later.
Author’s compilation of stats from LinkedIn
Finally, my professional organization has published the 2012-2013 salary database. I’m as excited as Steve Martin’s character exclaiming, “The new phonebook’s here! The new phonebook’s here!”
While the STC salary database reports on data collected about US technical communicators, it’s still useful to those of us living and working in Canada. The NAICS standard makes it easier for North American countries to compare business statistics.
Breaking it down
A two-digit NAICS code categorizes an entire economic sector such as Arts, Entertainment, and Recreation (71).
A three-digit code represents an industry subgroup such as Performing Arts, Spectator Sports, and Related Industries (711).
A four-digit NAICS code represents a specific industry such as Independent Artists, Writers, and Performers (7115).
Deeper breakdowns specify services (711510 Technical Writer, independent, 541930 Translation services, language) and specialties (511130 Technical manual publishers).
Interestingly, the salary database reports that translation services have maintained employment numbers. We technical writers have yet to recover jobs lost to the 2007-2009 recession. Not to panic though. We’ve gained jobs in these industries:
- Architectural, Engineering Services
- Business, Professional, Labor, Political Organizations
- Employment Services
- Information Services
Management, Scientific, and Technical Consulting Services
- Semiconductor and Electronic Component Manufacturing
- Testing Laboratories
- Wholesale Electronic Markets and Agents and Brokers
Advantage Canada if you’re bilingual.
Who doesn’t like free? Well, this month’s issue of STC Intercom magazine is free and available to the public. Nice move STC!
Feature You May Be an Instructional Designer
Multimedia Content Evolution in the Translation Industry
Career Now Is the Time to Design for User-Defined Content: It’s All About Metadata
Writing & Editing The Technical Communicator’s Machine
Business Matters Medical Writing and Editing Opportunities for the Independent Consultant or Contractor
The Strategic IA Introducing the Strategic Information Architect
STC Intercom magazine May 2011
A few months back I commented on the parts of technical writing I enjoy–the nuance of language, a collegial atmosphere. This month I’m adding another aspect, summer interns.
international interns, chapter advisors, and competition manager
I’ve been fortunate to work with a group of international students on a not-for-profit project. They’ve taken on planning an event for the Fall. Short of registering their friends and family they are promoting the event in every possible way. They’ve created a plan, designed a logo, multiplied the database and learned a bit about technical writing too. The students became organized as any product team might except that their buzz was about learning English, not launching a product.
International students find internships to practice speaking and listening, reading and writing in English. Passing those skills on a proficiency exam is a key to their future.
It’s been a month of celebrations–Obama’s inauguration, Chinese New Year and reason to hope for economic improvement.
After taking a time out after summer 2008 I started a program to become a Canadian immigration consultant. My own immigration experience was straightforward and so I thought I could help others wanting to move here.
Facing the Fork
I am a baby-boomer so I don’t have a long timeline to do over a career. My biggest asset is my ability to make a living but the 2008 economic downturn affected me.
What I know about occupations in general is that they fall into three categories: people, things, and ideas. They’re all in the mix for technical communicators. Immigration consulting is knowing about policies, procedures, and intercultural communication.
What about technical communication? I still want to continue doing technical writing. It’s been my occupation for 20 years and my passion. I figured out the parts of technical writing I like. While I’m not that geeky, I do like the ‘wordie’ aspect.
It all comes together in a program called Immigration Law Policies and Procedures offered through the Intercultural Communications department at University of British Columbia. I’m fascinated to hear about others’ journey to Canada — not just for a better job or for family reunification but also for a safe destination. Of my 60 classmates everyone appears motivated to learn the rules and regulations in order to help loved ones land safely.
My experience with immigration is only first-hand and it was a smooth transition thanks to a great lawyer and a patient husband. We’re eligible to apply for citizenship this year so for anyone still wondering whether we’re moving back to the U.S., nope.
"Gung Hay Fat Choy!"
While verbs do the job of denoting action, some sentences challenge us to find a pulse. Luckily, there’s a way to reveal those hidden actions. Here’s how.
Locate an equipment warranty or similar document that has conditions and clauses. Now look for a verb form that ends in -ance, -tion, or -ment. These suffixes tip-off actions that will spring to life after a simple rewrite.
For example you can probably spot the word ‘agreement’. To free the verb agree simply lop off the verbal suffix then rephrase the sentence. You’ll go from… ‘We must get to the agreement stage…’ to ‘We agree to disagree’.