for Technical Communicators
Thousands of people receive degrees in engineering every year. Ten years later, some of them will still be practicing engineering and designing computer chips, aerospace electronics, or automotive emissions systems. Others, however, will have used their engineering training as a pathway to careers in marketing, product/project management, corporate management, management consulting, engineering consulting, and more. These people have not forsaken engineering. Rather, they have built on their engineering training and experience, embracing related skills and gaining positions that allow them to exert more influence in their organizations, exercise more creativity, or have more choices for professional growth.
The same process frequently happens in technical communication. We are technical communicators who have become practitioners in human factors/ usability. Our own experience led us to think about our colleagues with similar experiences, and to sample what we can learn from them about how our profession is evolving.
This chapter provides findings from interviews we conducted with nine professionals in the computing industry, including brief case histories for six of them. Although all have their roots in technical communication, they have expanded their careers by adding a professional specialty such as usability, marketing, information architecture, or project or program management. Our interviewees have not stopped being technical communicators. Rather, they have