Online Mentoring. A great article with some advice for individuals considering the technical writing field.
A Technical Writer has to stay up to date on the latest publishing software and trends within our field. We also have to be able to explain those software or trends to our employers or clients. I started to read about DITA about three years ago and I did not pay much attention. I was hired by YESCO Electronics as a technical writer. Their software choice was Adobe InDesign with their publishing choice being PDF. I was okay with this until I started documenting several different types of documentation that consisently required updating.
I started to read more about DITA and how efficient it could be. I tried to find a way to pitch DITA to the company. However, I could not find an article that really delved into the why should I care as a technical writer or why my employer should care; until now. “Why Should I Care About Dita? by Jacquie Samuals, published by TechWhirl, explains why technical writers should care about DITA. It also has some pointers to bring to management that would make any team look into DITA such as consistency and quality.
If you are a technical writer or a student in this field, I highly recommend that you read this article.
At a recent job fair, one of the recruiters said something to the effect, “They don’t have those any more do they?” Many of the vendors at the fair were looking for engineers and other technical professionals, but I did find several firms looking for technical writers, many on a contract basis.
The question is, Is the field of technical writing going away? The answer is no, unless, engineers and other technical professionals learn to use language that clients and customers can understand and are willing to write the marketing and training materials that go with the procedures and products they produce. However, the technical writing field is changing.
I was recently reading a blog that was discussing changing the title of Technical Writing to something more current. The problem is, while the field of technical writing is expanding, attempts to change the title would only give upper management an excuse to lower the wages and professionalism of our field; not too mention create confusion among the field itself and emplyers. Currently, many firms are eliminating their full time technical writers and hiring contract technical writers or temporary technical writers as the need for documentation arises.
These new developments make work in the field of Technical Writing a different creature. There are challenges, but there are also opportunities to expand the field as well. The face of Technical Writing is changing.
DragonTech Writing, championing the cause for technical writers.
By Neil Dabb