I submitted a proposal to take part in a progression at the Society for Technical Communication conference in Philadelphia next summer. The topic concerns reaching out to the high school level to describe technical writing as a career option. Earlier this year I spoke to a group of high school science teachers about getting better writing from their students. The topic continues to intrigue me, and I have started to contact local schools to get more opportunities around Career Days.
In the dark, dim past it seemed like there was a very low barrier to entry for aspiring technical writers. Basically, anyone caught conjugating a verb properly was a likely candidate. The writing staff at some companies was comprised of technicians, secretaries, journalists, frustrated novelists, and the like. It seemed like half the staff was there by accident.
Fast-forward to 2007 and the writing staff is far different. Most technical communicators have degrees in their chosen field, or degrees in English, Journalism, etc. In other words, the writers are here by choice.
My hope is to get more representation at the high school level and help students identify the technical communication career as a viable path. As I find out more, I'll keep blogging about it.