© 2010 Ugur Akinci
Technical communication is a great exciting field full of material and non-material rewards. But if you’ve been in the business for 5 or over 10 years, things can start getting a bit stale. You’ll know when that time comes to push your career up to a new orbit.
You can spark up your technical communication career in two directions:
2) Post-Writing Extension
In this post we’ll look at the Post-Writing Extension option…
By “Post-Writing Extension” I mean everything that happens when a written manual or document is posted and distributed for end-user consumption. In Hollywood this would be called the “Post-Production” phase.
There are two targets along this route: a) Design and layout, and b) Single-sourcing and structured authoring.
a) Design and layout
If you have a flair and interest in visual arts, you can enhance the value of your services by not only writing the manuals but also designing them for print and online presentation. You can teach yourself how to do technical illustrations and offer visual solutions in this day and age of globalization.
Remember: globalization makes “localization” a necessity. Since translation costs money, a growing number of project managers insist on having as many “visuals” as possible to describe how the end-user can install or configure a system. That’s why your graphic skills could be invaluable for the project team.
b) Single-sourcing and structured authoring
This is the next big frontier in technical communications that keeps expanding. Although a lucrative area to specialize in, don’t forget that it is also one with a very steep learning curve. You need to learn a lot before venturing in this direction. The good news is, there are plenty books, training classes and online resources out there to help you along.
You can, for example, start reading on XML and understand what it is. Next you can venture into such XML authoring tools as FrameMaker and educate yourself about established structured authoring platforms like DocBook.
However, I believe the next big push in this niche would be adoption of DITA (Darwin Information Typing Architecture) by more companies who need to transfer their legacy documents into a topic-based and reusable format. That’s where you can make your big career push and become a DITA consultant.
The future is out there and it’s an exciting one. It’s waiting for your next move.
Also see: Pre-Writing Extension