I don't think that this advice is useful only for New Zealand... 

Knowing FM will help you get your foot in the door. In the Silicon
Valley, demand for tech writers is ramping up. My years of experience
suggest to me that tech writing departments will now be *desperate* for
writers. They'll be choosing candidates who can contribute immediately.
That may mean that experienced FM users get first crack at the jobs.

*Learning* FM helped me learn about the book-writing process. Even
unstructured FM will help you learn standards, consistency, and
organization, especially if you have to write your own templates.
Structured FM really helps you learn an organized approach to
information organization. It also helps you learn XML if you're not
familiar with it.

I could *use* Word before I learned FM, but afterwards I knew more about
what Word was all about. Once you learn FM, you can figure out how to do
the same stuff in Word. IMHO, Word is not a great tool for technical
writing; still, you will run into it. If you know Word, you'll be a hero
in your company even if they don't use it for tech writing.

Overall, though, learning *how to organize information* made me a tech
writer. Grammar and rhetoric skills don't do much if you can't put the
information in a place where the reader can find it, and produce an
overall group of topics that make the product clear.

         Joe Malin
Technical Writer
jmalin at tuvox.com 
The views expressed in this document are those of the sender, and do not
necessarily reflect those of TuVox, Inc.        

-----Original Message-----
From: framers-bounces+jmalin=tuvox....@lists.frameusers.com
[mailto:framers-bounces+jmalin=tuvox.com at lists.frameusers.com] On Behalf
Of rebecca officer
Sent: Thursday, May 11, 2006 3:14 PM
To: Framers at frameusers.com; andy.kelsall at gmail.com
Subject: Re: Career advice--which application to focus on: FM or Word?

If you were looking for work in New Zealand, you'd be in one of two

- working in a tech writing team with a company or consultancy. In that
case, the tool is pretty irrelevant. In our company, we take people
who've never seen FM before and get them competent within a week or two.
What matters to us is the ability to write clearly about complex
technical material. If you've got the kind of mind that can cope with
high-end internet switches, learning FM is a breeze!

- working by yourself in a small company. The problem there is that you
don't have anyone to learn the tool from, so lack of tool knowledge can
drive you batty. And the tool is most likely to be Word.

So in NZ, I'd advise someone to focus on the position and work -
especially to look for something with variety and the potential to rise
further - but also to try and come to grips with Word enough that you
can competently produce a template-based book from it.

Cheers, Rebecca 

>>> "Andy Kelsall" <andy.kelsall at gmail.com> 12/05/06 03:39 >>>
Hello everyone,

           I would like some advice from anyone who has worked in the
technical writing field for more than 3 years. My question is this:

          If you knew someone who was looking to enter the technical
writing field at this time, would you advise them to seek out positions
where they would be using FrameMaker, or would you tell them not to
worry so much on which application would be used, but instead focus on
the position and the work itself?

          The reason I ask is that on various listservs I subscribe to,
it seems that most people are big FM advocates and are not too fond of
I've spent the last month trying to learn the basics of FM, and I can
see why people choose FM over Word when it comes to serious technical
Granted, there is a steep learning curve, but it *is* a lot more
versatile than Word.

          I'm moving away from a 17 year career as a technician and
engineer in the telecom field and I want to make sure my first step into
technical writing isn't a misstep. As a quick note, I have given the
career change quite a bit of thought, and went as far as completing a
technical writing program at Duke. Any and all advice is appreciated.



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