Transition from Public Relations to Technical Writing? Any advice?

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lfb2 in Decatur, Georgia

19 months ago

I've been in the field of Public Relations/Marketing for about 5 years and having been recently laid-off, I have debated whether or not to obtain a certification in Technical Writing/Communication and transition into that field, but I wanted to know from other Technical Writers would this be something worth pursuing. I do understand they are two totally different types of writing.

I've always done well with writing procedures and processes as well as writing proposals and plans, and wondering if these skills would be applicable in the field. I am aware that certification and knowing about software is very essential and well-aware of the fact that this is an entirely new skill-set for me and requires a learning curve. I already have an MA in Professional Writing, so I took a few Technical Writing courses during my studies, so I think a certification may be the best route.

And if not Technical Writing, what other fields would you recommend I pursue that could use my skills? I've heard business analysts or report writers are similar job fields. I've also heard becoming a correspondence analyst is a good gateway into technical writing. My experience in PR is mostly in the education field, but I have also worked in the financial/insurance industry in the past. I enjoyed working in the financial industry, but want a more challenging opportunity.

I know these are a lot of questions, but any advice would be greatly appreciated!

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jenab in Austin, Texas

19 months ago

lfb2 in Decatur, Georgia said: I've been in the field of Public Relations/Marketing for about 5 years and having been recently laid-off, I have debated whether or not to obtain a certification in Technical Writing/Communication and transition into that field, but I wanted to know from other Technical Writers would this be something worth pursuing. I do understand they are two totally different types of writing.

It's much more than two different types of writing; the writing (while essential) is only a small part of most tech writer/tech comm roles. These days mastering certain software is essential, on top of the analytical skills (to oversimplify TW roles).

Before pursing any additional training or transitioning, have you researched your local job market and the high demand jobs? Is Tech Comm in demand in your area? And have you talked to your local workforce career center about WIA? If not, do so (but make sure you do very thorough due diligence before proceeding with any training, and make sure you talk to local experts in the field).

I love technical writing, but the work tends to be project-based; even if you've been hired as a regular employee, layoffs happen a lot, regardless of your experience and the quality of your work. It's just the nature of the field (particularly because companies tend to be myopic about the continual process of improving their documentation/content). Don't go into the field if you need stability.

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lfb2 in Decatur, Georgia

19 months ago

jenab in Austin, Texas said: It's much more than two different types of writing; the writing (while essential) is only a small part of most tech writer/tech comm roles. These days mastering certain software is essential, on top of the analytical skills (to oversimplify TW roles).

Before pursing any additional training or transitioning, have you researched your local job market and the high demand jobs? Is Tech Comm in demand in your area? And have you talked to your local workforce career center about WIA? If not, do so (but make sure you do very thorough due diligence before proceeding with any training, and make sure you talk to local experts in the field).

I love technical writing, but the work tends to be project-based; even if you've been hired as a regular employee, layoffs happen a lot, regardless of your experience and the quality of your work. It's just the nature of the field (particularly because companies tend to be myopic about the continual process of improving their documentation/content). Don't go into the field if you need stability.

Most of the writers jobs around here in Atlanta seem to be geared towards technical communication. I initiated the process today with WIA, so once I fill out the required paperwork, its a matter of seeing if any schools around here have certifications in technical communication. One of the better known programs is already holding classes, so I'm thinking of a Plan B. Just weighing a lot of my options at the moment, but thank you for your advice and warnings about the layoffs. I am aware that a lot of those positions are contract-based, so I know that stability is not at the forefront of this field.

Thanks for the info. If you have anything else, just let me know.

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jenab in Austin, Texas

19 months ago

lfb2 in Decatur, Georgia said: Most of the writers jobs around here in Atlanta seem to be geared towards technical communication. I initiated the process today with WIA, so once I fill out the required paperwork, its a matter of seeing if any schools around here have certifications in technical communication. One of the better known programs is already holding classes, so I'm thinking of a Plan B. Just weighing a lot of my options at the moment, but thank you for your advice and warnings about the layoffs. I am aware that a lot of those positions are contract-based, so I know that stability is not at the forefront of this field.

Thanks for the info. If you have anything else, just let me know.

Good luck; I absolutely love doing it, and any time I try to get away from it, I always drift back. Make sure that you thoroughly check the training vendors available through WIA -- the WIA specialists can't show favoritism and qualifying to be a vendor doesn't require much more than filling out paperwork. I didn't get much guidance in going for PMP certification, and with so many paper PMPs around here thanks to aggressive marketing by some vendors, and I bury that credential now on my resume, versus promoting it.

If you need to wait on getting into a program, you might want to take advantage of informational interviewing to get more information about the market and recommendations on what training (and which providers) are a better option. I find people like to share their expertise when there's no pressure, and you could even gain a mentor out of the process. If you're really lucky, you might even find a hidden job opp, where they might consider hiring on condition of the training (rare, but it happens).

Good luck

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Stevizard in Columbus, Ohio

16 months ago

OK, HERE'S THE REAL SCOOP!

Your post tells me that you probably have the skills you need to become a RFP or Technical Writer. RFP stands for Request For Proposal. Technical Writers in this fields are usually hired by companies that seek funding from large foundations. The foundation offers grants to organizations that comply with a set goal (usually altruistic). The put out a request for proposal that invites organizations to submit a proposal that meets the foundation's requested goals.

Your company wants to secure the money promised by the grant and therefore a proposal must be written. These are very specific, very special kinds of documents that follow a rigid format. Often the foundation will supply writing guidelines (which is a big help).

Becoming an RFP Technical Writer (aka Grant Writer) will remove the skills barrier you will face in ANY OTHER technical writing field. I'd suggest looking for an entry-level grant writing position and grow from there.

Best of luck,
Stevizard

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