The Education of a Tech Writer [Meeting Recap]

Summary: Sure, you can punctuate, hyphenate, elaborate and decimate a sentence to its purest, most elegant message. By golly, you are a software nerd! But according to Dave Gardner, our presenter on October 2017 meeting, that’s really not enough to sustain a career in technical communications. Learn why…

Career-long learning

For seasoned pros, career changers and tech comm wannabes alike, the main point David Gardner pressed home on October 5 is that we should retain a student’s perspective throughout our careers. We work in an ever-changing environment of tools, terminologies, information structures and industry domains. We must also be business-savvy about economics, scoping, planning, budgeting, scheduling, pay rates, page layout, UI/UX, ROI … — and there begins the alphabet soup every professional technical communicator needs to keep up with to sustain a successful career.

Normally, a presentation dense with the buzzwords, acronyms and protocols that apply to a wide variety of industries would be too much to bear. However, if you are a job seeker who needs to understand which domains fit with your talents and skills, you will want to download David’s presentation and study it closely. And if you are a present or past practitioner in any of these areas, at least one slide will surely ring a bell that will make you want to brag. (It did me!)

One series of slides listed Bay Area companies and applicable expertise. Where do you fit?

  • Operating Systems, Networks, Storage, Applications
  • Biotech Industry in Silicon Valley
  • Healthcare – medical communications
  • Financial Insurance, Banking and Retail
  • Aeronautics and Aviation
  • Government Research labs
  • Automotive (“We have Tesla!)
  • Energy and power
  • Federal, State, County and CIty governments

But wait, there’s more!

In the next series of slides David offered an extensive list of options to keep on learning and improving your value. Besides the obvious need to constantly read and self-educate, David discussed the value of attending conventions (one slide listed several local ones), tech comms college courses, vendor certification programs, working with a personal mentor, and what to expect (or not expect) from recruiters and HR departments.

David recognizes the value of the research his presentation represents, not only to students but to career technical communicators. In fact, he plans to develop it further and publish it as a book.  So, no copying his copyrighted material!

Here is the link to The Education of Technical Communicators – Never Ending, by David Gardner.

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