Wednesday, 7 October 2015

Technical Writing - Three Sources of Employment For Technical Writers

There are three ways to get a job as a technical writer:
1) On your own, as an independent freelancer.
2) Through a job agency, as a contractor.
3) As a company employee.
Each offers different benefits and advantages, depending on your skills as a technical writer, your background and your personality.
1) To be on your own is perhaps the ideal of most freelancers and it certainly has its allure. That's the good old American dream, isn't it ?
But I wouldn't recommend going 100% freelancing if you don't have advanced "social engineering: skills, including heavy-duty networking.
A second point is, yes, freelancers make more money when there's work to do but their expenses are also much higher. They pay all their (and their family's) medical insurance, disability and life insurance (if any), Social Security and FICA contributions (for U.S. workers), etc.
2) Job agencies fit you into the projects they secure from the companies where you actually do the work. In a way, they lend you to this other company for a fee. They take their share from the top and pass on to you the rest. If you are good at what you do job agencies can be a steady and lucrative source of income.
I worked briefly for Fannie Mae back in 2006 through a similar agency and I liked the experience very much.
However, if you do not like your job, the agency might not have another and better one for you in waiting. So there is a danger of getting stuck with assignments that you don't like.
There are many employment agencies that you can query as a technical writer. Just search for them on the Internet with the key words "technical writing jobs" and "technical communicator jobs".
As to the benefits, most major agencies cover your medical insurance and other side benefits for a fee. The amount you end up paying is less than what you'd pay as an independent freelancer but more than what you'd pay as a full-time employee.
3) Working directly as an employee for a company is the best in terms of long-term job security, on-the job training opportunities, paid annual vacations, medical-dental-vision coverage, and a variety of other side benefits.
I highly recommend this alternative since it usually comes with generous 401(k) retirement plans and even (which is rare these days) an additional pension plan. During my technical writing career I have worked for 10 years as an employee for major Fortune 500 corporations and I never regretted it.
Good luck with your job search and let me know if you have any questions.
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