Job Futures for Tech Writing

Subject: Job Futures for Tech Writing
From: QMS Account <Robert -dot- Morrisette -at- EBAY -dot- SUN -dot- COM>
Date: Wed, 30 Nov 1994 13:55:20 +0800

On Tue, 29 Nov 1994 ej0 -at- NOTIS -dot- COM wrote:

> I am in the process of investigating tech writing jobs, and I have had several
> people in the business state that the future (and near future at that) of tech
> writing is primarily in contract work.

I've heard this also. I would be interested--and perhaps others would also
be--in learning more about the experiences of those who are involved in
contract work. Will it provide steady employment, i.e., can one be
self-supportive or do you need a second income from some other source to
make it? How do you obtain contracts? I know at least one writer is
using an online resume to obtain contracts. What about others? Or other
ways to get the word out? How much time do you spend marketing your
skills? I'm sure there are numerous other questions that might apply, but
these are starters.


RoMay Sitze rositze -at- nmsu -dot- edu

I speak only for myself and the job situation in Northern CA.

I followed the path from writer to Doc Manager to writer to contractor.
The trend here is to have smaller permanent staffs and hire contractors
for volume peaks or for expertise in new technologies. An assignment could
last from a few weeks to over a year. My next-to-last was 1 1/2 years.
Another trend is to minimize the use of editors. Alternatives are
manager/editors or peer review.

Most firms hire only through agencies because of IRS harassment.
Agencies pay either by W-2 or 1099, but the trend is to W-2.

When you have performed a few contracts and have good references, contract
jobs are usually available. I receive 2 or 3 calls a week from agents
looking for contract writers. I don't have to spend any time marketing
my skills (at least for now). Rates for experienced writers vary from
around $30 to $55. You can receive a raise on a long assignment.
I have learned about many industries and met many great people while
contracting. It can be a career or used as a bridge between permanent jobs.
One piece of advice - always finish your contract. Your client and agent
have many contacts and long memories.

Bob Morrisette
control -at- qms -dot- EBay -dot- Sun -dot- COM

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