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IT Support to Technical Writer/Trainer

By kwells ·
I am currently in an IT support role, and due to finish my Bachelors degree in Computer Information Systems this coming June.

I have had almost 4 years total IT experience, 3 of which were in the Air Force. I've done a variety of IT related jobs; my most favorite being training and technical documentation. I served in that capacity for a year and a half, loved it, and was good at it as well.

My question is, how would I make the transition from IT jack-of-most-trades with a Bachelors degree to a Technical writer/software documentation and trainer of the manuals I produce.

Go after a Masters degree in technical communication?

What sort of job should I look for to boost me in the right direction?

Are there any certifications available for IT trainers or technical writers?

Any advice would be much appreciated, thank you!

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Most technical writers ...

by stress junkie In reply to IT Support to Technical W ...

... are just people who don't have enough skills to be a secretary.

Don't do it. If, after you have spent thirty years in IT as a programmer or system administrator, and if you just get tired of learning the newest thing every two years, then you can semi-retire as a technical writer. In other words if you get a degree and go into technical writing you will be wasting your education.

And in truth if technical writers know anything useful, at all, then they learned it on the job.

Keep in mind that I mean that in the nicest possible way.

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Two different paths

by DC Guy In reply to IT Support to Technical W ...

If you want to be a documentation specialist, the only qualification is that you have to be willing to settle for low pay and almost zero respect.

Software developers have the attitude that documentation is not important and therefore is beneath them. This coincidentally dovetails very nicely with the fact that almost none of them can put a sentence together intelligibly. (Fellow TR members of course excepted; bulletin boards automatically select for the one-percenters with language skills. ^_^ )

My wife has a master's degree in English and lots of work experience, much of it in IT operations. IT shops typically offer her about two-thirds the starting salary for a programmer--to do the work the programmers are incapable of doing. It's about as bad as the way she was treated when she applied to become a schoolteacher. Needless to say she didn't pursue either career.

Training, on the other hand, is a good career that earns respect. In-house you'll make as much money as the programmers; as a consultant you'll pull in as much as $800 a day plus expenses.

However, virtually everyone I know in the field started out as a technician. We all occasionally get a chance to give a presentation and if we do well then we get to put together a short class, and so forth. They really expect you to know your subject matter from first-hand experience.

The only exceptions are former schoolteachers. They figure that if you can teach New Math to a room full of rowdy children, you won't have any trouble at all mastering MS Project or DB2 and presenting it to a group of cooperative adults.

Either way, it's a tough field to break into with zero experience. I suppose if you want to go directly from university into a technical training job, your best path might be to get a degree in education. But I'm just reasoning this out, I don't know anyone who's tried it.

As for technical writing, it's a demeaning job but if you want it there shouldn't be much competition. There are lots of IT people looking for work but they can't write any better than the ones who already have jobs. ^_^

It's a shame that language skills are not rewarded more highly in our society. Even editorial positions with magazines don't pay drenn.

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What is this symbol?

by stress junkie In reply to Two different paths

What is this? ^_^
Looks like tits to me.
Oh look. You can't say that. Well how about mammary glands? Can I say that TR?
Geez. I don't think t i t s should be censored. Bunch of prudes.

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"Kilroy"

by CharlieSpencer In reply to What is this symbol?

I think it's the emoticon answer to the old "Kilroy". Imagine it as a pair of closed eyes, arched in happiness, on either side of a horizontal mouth.

I've really got to get out of touch with my feminine side. Beer and football are definitely in order.

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I like t i t s better.

by stress junkie In reply to "Kilroy"
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^_^ is the way they write a smilie on the Pacific Rim

by DC Guy In reply to What is this symbol?

Out in the rest of the world, our sideways emoticons like : ) [need the space to keep the software from converting it into a yellow-face)have not caught on at all. Bad qi, bad karma, bad feng shui. Makes you look like you're sick and lying down.

They get very elaborate: (=^-^=)

Looks kind of like Cartman doing his dirndl dance.

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No Anime

by CharlieSpencer In reply to ^_^ is the way they write ...

Sorry, I don't get anime or other forms of Japanamation. I can't figure out what's up with the hair.

8===>

(Note deliberate use of semi-obscene graphic.)

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A couple of thoughts

by CharlieSpencer In reply to IT Support to Technical W ...

Check the tech writer and training job listings on the big employment web sites. See what qualifications they're looking for.

I think MS had a MS Certified Trainer program but I'm not sure if it's still going. I never met anyone outside an MS certified training partner company that had this cert, and I don't see how it could be useful in any other environment. I'm certain it required other MS certs before you can apply for it, since they at least required you to be certified in one area before you could teach it.

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