We’ve spent much of the month of November focusing on aspects of volunteerism and how technical communication practitioners can or should use their skills in pursuit of the lofty goals represented by non-profit or charitable organizations. But helping society can produce a wide range of career opportunities every bit as professionally and rewarding as the volunteer side. Much of what we see in “mainstream media” depicts technical communications in fairly limited, stereotypical ways: technical writers document software or complicated machinery. A small but occasionally vocal percentage of TechWhirlers have reminded us over the years that there are plenty of technical communicators out there who’s only connection to software is using it to produce documents.
In fact, we don’t have to look far to see a whole range of industries and economic sectors where communication is critical, and technical communicators have tremendous opportunities. And these industries are focused on improving the human condition, building stronger communities and society, and exploring the edges of human knowledge. As Lois Patterson pointed out in her essay on the recent SXSW Eco conference, communication is critical in sciences, sustainability, and more. So this week’s poll asks what new areas present great opportunities for technical communication practices and practitioners.
We find ourselves intrigued not only by the range of endeavors these industries represent, but also by the notion that the organizations may not be looking for folks wearing “technical communicator” label. They need professionals who have mastered the disciplines, and they don’t necessarily know what the job title should be. In recent months, thought leaders in this business have talked more frequently about moving away from the technical writer title. Which makes us worry that as we look at new opportunities in new industries, how many technical communication professionals will miss out on them simply by not looking beyond the title.
Take a few moments to vote in this week’s poll on where the most intriguing new technical communication opportunities are, and share a comment on how or whether to look beyond traditional titles at the same time you’re looking beyond traditional industries.