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Technical writing

Discussion in 'Employment & Jobs' started by the_shadow, Aug 27, 2008.

  1. the_shadow

    the_shadow Bit Poster

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    Hey all

    I saw an article on Technical Writing from a careers site, and it was pretty old (about 2000), and I was wondering if there is still a need for this type of work? Does anyone here do Technical Writing or work with one? It seems around the dot com time there was a big need, but now I can't find a lot of info really. Just looking for some info from someone in the field. Worth an ask at least.:biggrin

    Edit - Doh! I did a search and saw that Tripwire does this. Love to hear from you Trip! (And anyone else.)
     
  2. Qs

    Qs Semi-Honorary Member Gold Member

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    Who's tripwire? He can't be an important member surely. :p

    Wikipedia article on technical writing if you're interested/lazy - here

    Else see if the man himself gets in touch (via PM or this thread). I'm sure he will, he's a nice enough chap :)
     
    Certifications: MCT, MCSE: Private Cloud, MCSA (2008), MCITP: EA, MCITP: SA, MCSE: 2003, MCSA: 2003, MCITP: EDA7, MCITP: EDST7, MCITP: EST Vista, MCTS: Exh 2010, MCTS:ServerVirt, MCTS: SCCM07 & SCCM2012, MCTS: SCOM07, MCTS: Win7Conf, MCTS: VistaConf, MCDST, MCP, MBCS, HND: Applied IT, ITIL v3: Foundation, CCA
  3. BosonJosh

    BosonJosh Gigabyte Poster

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    I've worked in the technical writing field since 2000, and in my experience there's just as much need now as there was in 2000. There aren't as many technical writing jobs in IT as there are other types of jobs, but I still see job postings for technical writers on a regular basis.
     
  4. BosonMichael
    Highly Decorated Member Award

    BosonMichael Yottabyte Poster

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    What he said. I've been a technical writer since 2001, and I really enjoy it. :)
     
    Certifications: CISSP, MCSE+I, MCSE: Security, MCSE: Messaging, MCDST, MCDBA, MCTS, OCP, CCNP, CCDP, CCNA Security, CCNA Voice, CNE, SCSA, Security+, Linux+, Server+, Network+, A+
    WIP: Just about everything!
  5. the_shadow

    the_shadow Bit Poster

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    Wow, I'm surprised there are so many on this forum. :eek: I didn't think I would find that many.

    If I may, I have some questions.

    Why did you decide to become a writer rather than, say, a technician or someone actually working with the computers?

    How do you find the salary compares to other areas of computer work? (Network admin/web development etc.)

    How do you find your work?

    In what area do you specialise?
     
  6. BosonMichael
    Highly Decorated Member Award

    BosonMichael Yottabyte Poster

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    I was a technician; in fact, my last job was as a senior network admin. I became a writer because I enjoy writing and I enjoy teaching. What better to write about and teach about than something that you've worked with and enjoy thoroughly? :)

    To be brutally honest, it's lower. I could make quite a bit more as a real-world tech. But I'm not hurting financially; I'm paid VERY well... better than most non-technical writers. All that said... I don't do it for the money... I do it because I enjoy it and I am very passionate about what I do.

    Plus, there are tons of other benefits: my writing doesn't go down at 2 in the morning, I'm never paged to come in because my writing has a problem, and I never have to wait for users to go home before I can work on a difficult piece of writing. :D

    You might think I'd get bored with never getting to put my hands on the technology. Well, it's true that I'm no longer in a real-world environment, which is the only real drawback, in my opinion... but I *do* get to lay my hands on the technology, even though it's in a lab environment. Eh, better than nothing. The good part is that I'm always learning new stuff... and getting paid to do so. The knowledge I gained while working at Transcender made me a much better jack-of-all-trades network administrator... and the knowledge I gained from my entire IT career has made me a better writer - and now, a trainer of writers - at Boson.

    I could have stayed in my senior network admin job. I was "the man", there... the top of the technical food chain without going into management and disconnecting from the technology side of things. I was paid well, and I was well respected. Great health care plan, great co-workers, great boss. Could have worked there for years. But I have a real, burning passion for IT certification, and for teaching others what I know... and it takes a certain niche skill to be able to craft a good practice exam question. I was asked to come to work for Boson to help lead their content development efforts... so I did. I don't regret the decision for a second.

    If you haven't figured it out by now... I love it. :wub I *never* dread coming in to work.

    Information Technology! :D Of all sorts... not just one niche field. It'd be difficult for me to write about one technology over... and over... and over... and over again. I enjoy new challenges and new information. As a result, I've written exams related to Microsoft, Cisco, CompTIA, Oracle, Citrix, Sun, Novell, and CIW. Doing so has made me a better tech AND a better writer.
     
    Certifications: CISSP, MCSE+I, MCSE: Security, MCSE: Messaging, MCDST, MCDBA, MCTS, OCP, CCNP, CCDP, CCNA Security, CCNA Voice, CNE, SCSA, Security+, Linux+, Server+, Network+, A+
    WIP: Just about everything!
  7. tripwire45
    Honorary Member

    tripwire45 Zettabyte Poster

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    I don't know if 3 constitutes "a lot" of technical writers. Actually, Michael and Jay are friends and have worked together for a number of years (correct me if I got that part wrong), so it's not like they both found themselves at CF via a random process.

    I guess I'm the "Johnny-come-lately", having only entered the field in 2003-4 or so. The concept of being a "technical writer" is actually very broad. There are quite a number of career tracks that fit under that umbrella, each measured, in part, by their own technologies and "deliverables". While you can make a go of it within the bounds of Microsoft's Office suite applications, more and more, web and coding skills figure into the required skill sets.

    Also, being a technical writer can overlap into being a web designer, technical marketing and sales and, even some elementary programming.

    As has been said, there'll always be a need for documentation but it doesn't (and never will) pay as well as more formal IT type work.

    Frankly, I have pretty much found my niche in the industry. I really enjoy writing and working with the set of tools I have before me. I get to be technical and creative at the same time. A perfect mix for me.

    As far as a speciality (and there are many), I provide written and graphic documentation for a company that develops and markets various web applications. Since my content has to port to HTML, XML, and other formats, the developers suggested I learn and use the LaTeX document markup language...which is very unusual (usually, only mathematicians, scientists, and programmers use LaTeX). Since I work in an "open source" shop, I use GIMP for all my graphics creation and editing. I currently do a smattering of my work in HTML/CSS, but I've had previous jobs where almost all my content was web based and HTML was the language of choice.

    I also write book reviews for a number of web venues including CF. I also write reviews and a Tech Tools column for Linux Pro Magazine (yeah, I get paid for those). Additionally, I'm in the early, early stages of a book proposal (it'll be my fifth book, if it flies), so as you can see, being a technical writer isn't just a single thing.

    Hope this little missive helps.
     
    Certifications: A+ and Network+
  8. BosonMichael
    Highly Decorated Member Award

    BosonMichael Yottabyte Poster

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    Supposedly, from what one forum member on here has told me, there are some other ones on here who have written and still write technical materials. Unfortunately, they wouldn't reveal to me who those people might be.

    Yep, Josh (not Jay, though that was part of his old nickname) and I met each other at Transcender and have been the best of friends ever since. :)
     
    Certifications: CISSP, MCSE+I, MCSE: Security, MCSE: Messaging, MCDST, MCDBA, MCTS, OCP, CCNP, CCDP, CCNA Security, CCNA Voice, CNE, SCSA, Security+, Linux+, Server+, Network+, A+
    WIP: Just about everything!
  9. BosonMichael
    Highly Decorated Member Award

    BosonMichael Yottabyte Poster

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    EDIT: duplicate post due to forum hiccup
     
    Certifications: CISSP, MCSE+I, MCSE: Security, MCSE: Messaging, MCDST, MCDBA, MCTS, OCP, CCNP, CCDP, CCNA Security, CCNA Voice, CNE, SCSA, Security+, Linux+, Server+, Network+, A+
    WIP: Just about everything!
  10. tripwire45
    Honorary Member

    tripwire45 Zettabyte Poster

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    My bad. The guy has more secret identities than Moon Knight. :wink:
     
    Certifications: A+ and Network+
  11. BosonJosh

    BosonJosh Gigabyte Poster

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    Makes it harder to keep track of me :)
     
  12. BosonJosh

    BosonJosh Gigabyte Poster

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    I kind of fell into this, but I found out I really enjoyed it. Ultimately, I like making products more than I like supporting IT functions. It's very gratifying to see a product go out into the wild and then hear from people that it helped. You don't really get that doing IT support.

    I could definitely be making more money than I am now if I had continued down the programming track I had started. Additionally, there's more money to be made in high-level admin work, too. But, what I'm doing now is more enjoyable to me, which is more important than the money.

    I really enjoy my work. It's very satisfying.

    I guess you could say that writing practice test material is a specialization, but other than that, I don't specialize in anything. I've attained many certifications covering many diverse topics. I pride myself on being able to quickly learn any topic needed.
     

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