06Jun

There’s a tech job that pays well, is growing fast and is in such demand that it’s taking employers weeks to fill an opening.

And it typically doesn’t require knowing any language besides English.

With the number of devices and applications mushrooming and their capabilities increasing just as rapidly, explaining to users how to make everything work is the job of technical writers. “They’re vital players when the time comes for a company or team to communicate its work to the rest of the world,” writes Nick Kolakowski on the Dice.com blog.

Instruction manuals are how most of us come in contact with the work of technical writers. Some technical writers specialize in writing these consumer focused materials; most write them along with handling other documentation tasks.

It may seem simple enough to describe the features of a new smartphone, but as the Dice article points out, “If the technical writer screws up, it could result in an extremely frustrated customer base — which reflects badly on the company.”

Many technical writers have a broad range of responsibilities that in the tech industry itself may include maintaining internal documentation of software fixes and new features. Often, the technical writer will work directly with an engineering team, becoming involved early in the product cycle to develop the deep understanding they’ll need to clearly explain complex features. This is especially true for those tech writers whose documentation will be used by IT professionals and engineers.

Simon Dew, a technical writer with an international firm that sells a database platform, says he writes for a technical audience because the users are database managers and developers.

It may not be a job requirement to know how to code – though there are writing jobs requiring a computer science background – all writers must be good at asking questions, be detail-oriented, understand technical concepts and write clearly.

Jacklyn Carroll, a technical writer who was an undergraduate English major who went on to earn a Master’s in professional and technical writing, says, “Any tech writer would be able to tell you that our job includes a lot more than just documentation. We have to communicate with people across multiple departments, write for a variety of audiences, and many of us have to understand programming or code at the same level as software developers.”

As a result, starting salaries can be as high as $70,000, according to Dice.com. The average for those writers with up to 2 years’ experience is $60,000. With more experience and skills, technical writers at the top can earn into six figures.

Photo by Andrew Neel

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Green Key

Businesses are Seeing the Value of Blockchain

The bloom began falling off the blockchain rose a few years ago, as companies conflated the technology with the cryptocurrency frenzy. In a handful of sectors, however, companies continued to explore how blockchain could benefit them.

Now organizations in sectors well beyond the pioneers in finance are investing in blockchain to protect data, decentralize processes and facilitate asset and data transfer.

“It’s an appealing model for many sectors, promising transparency and trust as it helps make value exchange possible,” says a SmartBrief article. Although focusing mostly on the financial sector, which is where blockchain found its earliest uses, the article mentions the steady creep of the technology into other industries and even slowly becoming commoditized as “blockchain as a service.”

“Amazon and Microsoft both currently offer BaaS, and enterprises as well as startups are taking advantage of it,” says SmartBrief. Citing a Gartner survey of CIOs, the article notes that “60% expected their firms to start or continue adopting blockchain-based technology between now and 2023.”

Earlier this year, Deloitte issued a blockchain trends report. Besides describing the evolving technology and the features each different approach offers, Deloitte found that some of the fastest growth in blockchain investments was coming in such unexpected industries as professional services – a sector that includes the staffing and employment industry – and energy and resources. In each of those 38% and 43% respectively of the firms surveyed were spending at least $5 million each on blockchain initiatives.

Not unexpectedly, the largest percentage of businesses investing in blockchain were in technology, media and telecom.

“More organizations in more sectors — such as technology, media, telecommunications, life sciences, health care, and government — are expanding and diversifying their blockchain initiatives,” Deloitte observes.

Like the financial sector, life sciences and health care deal with highly sensitive medical data they must protect or face legal consequences. Those two sectors are where blockchain “can have a more immediate and meaningful impact,” says Deloitte. They are in an industry, the report explains, “In which data transparency, speed of access, immutability, traceability, and trustworthiness can provide the information necessary for life-altering decisions.”

Interestingly, Gartner assigns a similar importance – not life or death, but still vital – to blockchain’s value to media.

“Organizations and governments are now turning to technology to help counter fake news, for example, by using blockchain technology to authenticate news photographs and video, as the technology creates an immutable and shared record of content that ideally is viewable to consumers,” Gartner said.

As companies increasingly see how blockchain can work for them, and, as SmartBrief observes, with issues of interoperability and standards being worked out and “well-known financial firms and governments” becoming ever more involved, blockchain is fast becoming “more than a passing trend.”

Photo by Maxim Hopman on Unsplash

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Green Key

4 Ways that Green Key Creates a Mentally Positive Environment

From productive technology to flexible work hours, below are four ways in which our organization considers the mental wellbeing of our staff, while also maintaining a communicative and healthy atmosphere in the workplace.