Technical Author salary trends in 2013/14

Here is a summary of salary trends and demand levels for Technical Authors, derived from the ITJobsWatch website.

Demand for Technical Authors has risen

Vacancy sign - Flickr image by LOLrenThe demand has risen from 1 in every 1,000 IT advertised jobs being for a Technical Author in January 2013 to 2 in every 1,000 jobs at the end of the 2013 .The peak demand during 2013 was in the summer, when 2.9 in every 1,000 IT jobs were for a Technical Author.

This is still some way off the levels in 2004 and earlier, where 3.4 in every 1,000 advertised jobs were for a Technical Author.

Advertised salaries have risen

ITJobsWatch is reporting the average year-on-year salary change is currently increasing at 7.14%.

  • The national average advertised salary for a Technical Author in January 2013 was £35,000.
  • The average for the 3 months to 17 Dec 2013 was £37,500.
  • 80% of salaries advertised in 2013 were between £27,500 and £47,000.

Salaries have been static since 2010, with the occasional rise and fall back to the £35,000 level. We will have to wait a few months to see if this is a permanent rise in the salary levels.

See also: Cherryleaf Technical Author Recruitment Services

Documents Made to Measure


Content and documents written for users should be like a good fitting shirt – comfortable enough to enable the wearer to function in the most effective way possible.

Basic shirts are offered in only small, medium, large and extra large options. The collars can be too tight, the sleeves too long, and the body rarely flatters the wearer. At the end of the day, the wearer can end up itchy and tired.

At the other extreme, bespoke shirts from London’s Jermyn Street are handmade to your exact body shape and size – but a price.

In between those two choices, you can buy “Made to Measure” shirts.

Fit is everything

In gentlemen’s shirtings, fit is everything, and the same thing is true for content. Companies such as Charles Tyrwhitt and TM Lewin offer Made to Measure shirts where you can specify the collar size, the length of the arms, the slimness of the fit, the length of the collar, shirt pocket options, the type of cuff, and type of fabric (like iron or non-iron cotton). Marks and Spencer take it further, modifying the shirts to take account of your weight and age. You get something that’s a much better fit to the user, and it costs only a little more than a basic (S, M, L, XL) shirt.

Made to Measure content

Shirt companies are able to offer a wide variety of choice at an affordable price because they use standard modular components that can be interchanged for each customer. You can take the same approach to your documentation as well – delivering content that’s the best fit for different skill levels, use cases, locations, reading devices, configurations, and so on.

Marks and Spencer made to measure shirts

By taking a modular, Made to Measure approach to writing your content, your content can be more like Cary Grant and less like Jeremy Clarkson.

What would a Technical Author ask from Santa?

Santa Claus - WikipediaSaint Nicholas’s day has passed, which means Christmas is getting close. So what would a Technical Author ask from Santa Claus?

One thing we could request is the ability to embed one Google document inside another. That would mean that Google Docs could support some basic content reuse.

Another would be to request Madcap Flare’s DITA support to be extended, so that you could create edit native DITA files.

We could ask him to provide a standard technology format for providing Help for mobile applications.

We could also ask him for a way to use Siri and Google Voice Search to interact with our user guides.

So what would you ask Santa to bring? Please share your thoughts and ideas below.

New training courses are on their way

We’ve been busy bees recently, working on some new elearning courses that we plan to be introducing soon. Shortly, we’ll be offering an online course on DITA Fundamentals, and another on Content Strategy. Both courses have been written and are at the User Acceptance and Testing stage. Of these two, you’re likely to see the DITA course released first.

There are two more online courses in the pipeline, which we hope to release at some point in 2014. One relates to policies and procedures, the other to elearning/screencasting.

Our intention is to offer basic courses online, and  advanced courses in traditional classroom format. Where there’s demand, we’ll also use Google Hangouts to deliver the advanced courses to overseas delegates.

Ultralight conferencing

Ultralight backpacking by http://www.backpackinglight.comPrompted by Scriptorium Publishing’s Sarah O’Keefe’s one bag method for travelling (she doesn’t check any luggage into the hold of an airplane), I’ve been looking at ways of reducing the weight I need to carry when flying to conferences or to clients. I’ve called this “ultralight conferencing”.

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The ideal length for instructional screencast videos

Screencast videos have become a popular means for delivering “how-to” information. One of the questions developers must address is, how long should you make your screencasts?

Axel Luterh SAPAt last weeks’s tekom conference, I saw an interesting presentation by Melanie Huxhold and Dr Axel Luther of SAP on how they develop screencasts for SAP’s products (Produkt- und Lernvideos als ideale Ergänzung zur klassischen Dokumentation). In their presentation, Melanie said they had determined the ideal length for their videos by sending out a questionnaire to users, asking them what they preferred.

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A free illustrated guide to content strategy

One of the kind things people were saying to us at the tekom conference last week was they enjoyed reading our free illustrated guide to DITA. Indeed, we’ve been bowled over by the response to this mini graphic novel and the number of people who have downloaded it.

Download our free illustrated guide to content strategyThis prompted us to complete a second illustrated guide we had “in the works” – on content strategy.

Again, this guide takes the form of a graphic novel:

It’s free, 14 pages long, and it’s published under a creative commons licence. MOBI and EPUB versions will be available shortly.

Let us know what you think of it.

See also:

Changing times in technical communication 3 – The long form Help topic

New York Time snow fall article imageOne of the most recent developments in web page design has been the introduction of “long form” web pages. Will we also see the long form approach used in Help, or perhaps start to influence the way some Help pages are designed?

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