How to avoid becoming extinct in your technical writing career

This article articulates the need for continuous learning in an industry constantly changing at a rapid pace. With every new idea and innovation older technology succumbs to be obsolete. This means that experience one had 5 or 10 years ago might be entirely irrelevant today. As technology evolves so must our abilities to use it, and from a writing standpoint this holds just as true. It’s impossible to survive in this industry unless you continually learn.

Not very long ago it was necessary for technical writers to write detailed steps for even the most trivial technical tasks. Tasks such as how to print something no longer need documentation because users today have the technical know-how to do such a thing. This article goes into great detail in how there has been a devaluation of technical experience in the workplace. Having technical experience may not always mean it’s relevant experience.

Jon Evans states:

“The de facto assumption for most of the twentieth century was that experience was assumed high-value unless proven otherwise. In technology, in software, this is no longer the case. Increasingly, instead, your experience beyond a certain point — say, 5-10 years, depending on many factors — is assumed low-value unless proven otherwise.”

Professions in technology differ from other professions because you don’t simply learn 4+ years of material then just go to work in your field for the next 20 or so years. Since tech is evolving all the time the only way to keep up is to continuously learn. The article then goes into how you can implement continuous learning into your career. One of the services that was recommended was Udacity. Udacity provides “NanoDegrees” which are 9-12 month online courses that you can devote a specific block each day to working on. It is meant to give you a granular focus on a given topic. Another resource is Safari Books Online. This can be used in conjunction with Udacity to give context to what you’re learning or refresh knowledge on certain topics.

Continuous learning is needed to avoid extinction in the field of technical writing. However, there are many resources available that can address this concern.

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-Ted Kaminski

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