The following post was composed by guest blogger Elizabethtown College student Rachel Lee.
The research of Eva Brumberger and Claire Lauer expands on previous studies of the technical communication field. This updated look at the field can provide professionals and recent graduates with information about what skills, competencies, and characteristics employers are currently looking for in technical communicators.
In their study, Brumberger and Lauer focused on three main questions:
- What genre/information product knowledge is important for success in the technical communication job market?
- What technology skills are essential for success in the technical communication job market?
- What professional competencies and personal characteristics are essential for success in the technical communication job market?
To answer these questions, the researchers analyzed about 1,000 U.S. technical communication job postings on Monster.com over a two-month period. They found that the jobs fell into five main categories: technical writer/editor, content developer/manager, grant/proposal writer, medical writer, and social media.
To get a sense of the field, 52% of the jobs were in the technical writer/editor category, 69% were full-time permanent positions (not full-time temporary or part-time), and 57% required at least a bachelor’s degree. Only 16% of the job postings provided salary information in dollar amounts; most stated it was dependent on the applicant’s experience level. Of those that did provide salaries, they ranged from $21/hour to $37/hour in hourly rates and from $49K to $78.5K in yearly salaries.
Considering these finding, the study suggested technical communication students should consider content management, social media, and website writing courses to follow these newer trends. They should also keep in mind that promotional/brand/marketing is no longer limited to marketing and PR fields and that there is an increasing need for subject matter expertise/familiarity in areas such as engineering, information technology, and biology. Students should consider taking courses to learn and hone these skills that frequently arose in the job listings analyzed by this study.
Eva Brumberger and Claire Lauer. “The Evolution of Technical Communication: an Analysis of Industry Job Postings.” Technical Communication 62.4, November 2015.