STC Houston - Dateline Houston - March/April 2006

Vol 45, Issue 4

March/April 2006

STC Houston - Dateline Houston - March/April 2006

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STC Houston - Dateline Houston - January/February 2006

Surveys—Your Gateway to Knowledge

by, Gary Michael Smith, Senior Publications and Documentation Specialist, CACI

Kevin Neilan once stated, in an Saturday Night Live news update that “a new survey shows that Americans are tired of new surveys.” But many surveys that help us decide our next career move—from career advancement to salary negotiation.

For years STC has published its annual Salary Survey for the United States and Canada. And this information has helped countless technical communicators by providing up-to-date information about national demographics for wages in our field.

But the STC survey doesn’t detail state-by-state or even individual community (chapter) information.

This is why I decided to conduct salary surveys for two groups: the Louisiana satellite of STC Houston and the Mid-South (Memphis) chapter.

Adapting from the STC survey with the help of local administrative councils, I was able to accumulate valuable information about region-specific demographics.

My surveys included such information as job titles and the cities employing technical communicators holding these titles. Gender and age were also included as were years of experience, experience level, and length of STC membership.

All such data is valuable how you compare with others in the profession. It’s also fascinating that, while many technical communicators have an education base in English, journalism, or science and technology, some have majored in creative arts such as drama, communications or theater as well as “soft sciences” such as philosophy and language arts.

Without such regional surveys we would never know the diversity of our colleagues and as other pertinent information such as how long they’ve been technical communicators, and how many are fulltime, part-time, or work on a contract basis.

We also learn about the companies employing our fellow STC members, such as the number of employees, their job functions, and the type of industry in which to company is involved.

Because of all the potentially valuable data at our fingertips, I encourage everyone to participate in salary surveys.

The information gathered is important to all of us and can help convince companies that they may not be paying what’s appropriate for the education and experience of their employees and the tasks their employees are required to perform.

I have used such salary surveys more than once to negotiate a better starting salary and better adjustments.

I encourage organizers to conduct salary surveys within your own organizations.

With more than 150 communities in STC, there is a potential gold mine of information within reach. It’s simply a matter of designing an effective survey, emailing it, and compiling the results. If enough surveys are conducted, STC may be convinced to set up a page or a link on the STC site to allow members to view the results of individual surveys. Imagine how such data could help those of us who, by desire or by hurricane, find ourselves looking for work in other lands.

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