Alternate Career Paths - .Alternate Career Paths for Technical Communicators By Jack Molisani President,

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  • Alternate Career Paths forTechnical Communicators

    By Jack MolisaniPresident, ProSpring Technical Staffing

    Executive Director, The LavaCon Conference

  • About the SpeakerAbout the Speaker

    Associate Fellow, STC President, ProSpring Technical StaffingExecutive Director, The LavaCon Conference

  • Warnings and DisclaimersWarnings and Disclaimers

    Group ParticipationI am not a Professional Statistician Speaking in HypertextChinese ArtistsControversy!

  • Career Path #1Career Path #1

    Other ProfessionTechnical WriterSr. Technical Writer Documentation Manager (maybe)

  • Career Path #2Career Path #2

    Other ProfessionTechnical WriterSr. Technical Writer / Doc. ManagerContractor Technical WriterTechnical Writing Business Owner

  • Career Path #3Career Path #3

    Other ProfessionTechnical WriterOther Profession (This time in a related field.)

  • Related FieldsRelated Fields

    New field is related to technical writingUses the same core competencies You take a specific task of technical writing and specialize in itIdentified not as a tech writerbut as a _________

  • Core CompetenciesCore Competencies

    Written Communication SkillsInterview Skills Project Planning and Project ManagementCritical Thinking Skills Conflict Resolution User AdvocacyQuality Control

  • MarketingProduct ManagementProject Management Proposal ManagementQuality AssuranceRelease Management TrainingUsability User Interface Design Website Development Other

    Accessibility Business/Software AnalysisChange ManagementCoding/Programming Compliance Content ManagementCorporate Communication Documentation Management Graphic Design/IllustrationID/Courseware DevelopmentLocalization / Internationalization

    Related FieldsRelated Fields

  • Corporate ValueCorporate Value

    My premise: Related fields are more valued by managementand thus receive better compensation.Why? Because they are perceived to add value, reduce costs or generate revenue.

  • Corporate ValueCorporate Value

    Or: Because they are perceived to add more value, reduce more costs or generate more revenue then technical writers do.Exceptions: Illustrators and QA/Testers

  • The SurveyThe Survey

    I created a web-based survey that asked about transitioning from technical writing into related fieldsPresented a predefined list, but also prompted for other answersAlso asked about compensationIncluded TWs who havent transitioned to get a compensation baseline

  • The SurveyThe Survey

    351 self-selecting responsesCompensation answers were given in both hourly rates and annual salaries, so we annualized the hourly rate by multiplying the by 2,080 hours.Note that this affects the true average annual compensation since not all contractors bill 2,080 hours a year

  • The SurveyThe Survey

    and some fields are more consulting oriented than others.But since we did the same annualizationacross all answers, the survey should present relative differences between technical writing and other fields. (Remember that this is an informal survey with a limited self-selecting audience.)

  • Other DisclaimersOther Disclaimers

    I reassigned some other responses that were very close (or actually on) the predefined list to make tabulation easier.We limited respondents to choose only one field for the same reason.I did not include fields with fewer than three votes or answers that didnt make sense (such as one person who gave a salary but whose field was Unemployed.)When given a range of compensation, we used the average. (Foreign currencies were converted.)

  • Yes, 79%

    No, 21%

    Have You Transitioned from TW?Have You Transitioned from TW?

  • Into What Alternate Career FieldInto What Alternate Career Field

    0

    5

    10

    15

    20

    25

    30

    35

    40

    45

    Acce

    ssibi

    lity

    Busin

    ess/S

    oftwa

    re An

    alysis

    Chan

    ge M

    anag

    emen

    t

    ing/P

    rogram

    ming

    (XML

    , Jav

    a, Ja

    vaSc

    ript, P

    erl, C

    ++, e

    tc.)

    Comp

    lianc

    e

    Conte

    nt Ma

    nage

    ment

    Corpo

    rate C

    ommu

    nicati

    on

    Docu

    menta

    tion M

    anag

    emen

    t

    Grap

    hic D

    esign

    /Illus

    tratio

    n

    Instru

    ction

    al De

    sign/C

    ourse

    ware

    Deve

    lopme

    nt

    Loca

    lizati

    on / I

    nterna

    tiona

    lizati

    on

    Marke

    ting

    Prod

    uct M

    anag

    emen

    t

    Proje

    ct Ma

    nage

    ment

    (non-d

    ocum

    entat

    ion)

    Prop

    osal

    Mana

    geme

    nt

    Quali

    ty As

    suran

    ce

    Relea

    se M

    anag

    emen

    t Tra

    ining

    Usab

    ility

    User

    Interf

    ace D

    esign

    Webs

    ite D

    evelo

    pmen

    t

  • Patent Claims WritingProcess EngineeringProgram ManagementProposal ManagementPublishingReal EstateRegulatory AffairsSystems EngineeringTW recruitmentUser Experience ManagementXML validation

    Association ManagementCreative WritingCustomer Support (Help Desk)Database Creation and DesignEditingHuman Resources/RecruitingInformation ArchitectInnovation managementKnowledge ManagementLawyerParts Sales/Service Manager

    Other:Other:

  • Business Owner9%

    Contractor/Consultant 31%

    Staff Employee59%

    Staff Employee and Consultant

    1%

    Type of EmploymentType of Employment

  • How Long in New Career FieldHow Long in New Career Field

    0 to 3 years31%

    3 to 6 years18%6 to 9 years

    16%

    More than 9 years35%

  • Average Compensation by FieldAverage Compensation by Field

    $-

    $20,000.00

    $40,000.00

    $60,000.00

    $80,000.00

    $100,000.00

    $120,000.00

    $140,000.00

    $160,000.00

    Acce

    ssibi

    lity

    Busin

    ess/S

    oftwa

    re An

    alysis

    Chan

    ge M

    anag

    emen

    t

    Prog

    rammi

    ng (X

    ML, J

    ava,

    Java

    Scrip

    t, Perl

    , C++

    , etc.

    )Co

    mplia

    nce

    Conte

    nt Ma

    nage

    ment

    Corpo

    rate C

    ommu

    nicati

    on

    Docu

    menta

    tion M

    anag

    emen

    t

    Grap

    hic D

    esign

    /Illus

    tratio

    n

    Instru

    ction

    al De

    sign/C

    ourse

    ware

    Deve

    lopme

    nt

    Loca

    lizatio

    n / In

    terna

    tiona

    lizatio

    n Ma

    rketin

    g

    Prod

    uct M

    anag

    emen

    t

    Proje

    ct Ma

    nage

    ment

    (non-d

    ocum

    entat

    ion)

    Prop

    osal

    Mana

    geme

    nt

    Quali

    ty As

    suran

    ce

    Relea

    se M

    anag

    emen

    t

    Tech

    nical

    Writi

    ngTra

    ining

    Usab

    ility

    User

    Interf

    ace D

    esign

    Webs

    ite D

    evelo

    pmen

    t

  • AvgAvg Salary by Employment TypeSalary by Employment Type

    $-

    $20,000.00

    $40,000.00

    $60,000.00

    $80,000.00

    $100,000.00

    $120,000.00

    $140,000.00

    $160,000.00

    Business Owner Contractor/Consultant Staff Employee Staff Employee and Consultant

  • ObservationsObservations

    The survey disproved my premise that professionals in related fields are more highly compensated than technical writers. The relative compensations followed a bell curve: 11 fields were higher 2 were the same 9 were lower

    The people who reported the highest compensations were business owners.

  • www.ProspringStaffing.com

    www.LavaCon.org