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
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.