Re: TECHWR-L Digest - 10 Jan 1995 to 11 Jan 1995

Subject: Re: TECHWR-L Digest - 10 Jan 1995 to 11 Jan 1995
From: "Dana B. Mackonis, I are a writer, DTN 381-1283" <maconis -at- SUPER -dot- ENET -dot- DEC -dot- COM>
Date: Thu, 12 Jan 1995 18:32:47 EST

RE: Salaries for Tech Writers

I've been a contract tech writer for 8 years in the Greater Boston area -
read that as southern New Hampshire down to Boston. I haven't heard of any
TW getting $75/hour yet!

I think you have to take some things into consideration, however. Going thru
a job shop you will get about 15% less than if you went into a company on your
own. I have found very few companies that will consider an independent unless
they are incorporated - and yes they ask for copies of your incorporation
papers as proof. But there are still some. I still get calls for folks wanting
outrageous skills but are only willing to pay $20/hour. The calls I have gotten
in the last few months (I am currently on a long term contract so I ask for the
heck of it) have been $32 - $43 range on a W-2, the 1099 calls have been for
$30 - $45 an hour. All have been for senior tech writers with heavy Unix skills
and at least 5+ years experience. The tools being used mostly are FrameMaker,
MSWord (all kinds of versions), and Interleaf.

I have found that most companies still don't understand the skills of a tech
writer. It is almost as if they are looking for a programmer who has turned to
writing. I had one company (who I have 6 contracts thru over the years) call and
interview me - I had the perfect skills, but I didn't want to help compile,
debug and re-write C++ code. Naturally it wasn't a fit. They also wanted to
only pay $32/ hour on a W-2.

As you may have guessed, I am a software, hardware, firmware writer with some
other skills tossed on the side. I think you will find a range no matter where
you go and if you are going into a new area, you are almost "stuck" with having
to go thru a job shop to get into the door. In this area, your system skills
are almost as important as your writing skills, if not more important.

Going closer to a big city your salaries will be proportionately higher also.
I have used the STC job bank also and have gotten several good leads thru
this avenue.

I'd be interested in hearing what others have to say about their areas of
"locale". What areas of tech writing do think are more lucrative than the
computer industry?


PS - I would love to hear more about this $75/hour stuff in New England! Am I
charging too little?????

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