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The Evolution of Technical Communication: An Analysis of Industry Job Postings

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Purpose: This article extends earlier studies examining the core competencies of technical communicators. Our project updates these previous perspectives by analyzing the broad range of information products, technologies, professional competencies, and personal traits requested by industry job advertisements. The analysis seeks to answer three main questions:

• What genre/information product knowledge is important for success in the technical communication job market?

• What technology skills are essential for success in the technical communication job market?

• What professional competencies and personal characteristics are essential for success in the technical communication job market?

Method: We analyzed almost 1,000 U.S. technical communication job postings from We mined the postings for position title, job type, education level, experience level, location, salary, and industry sector. We subsequently conducted a content analysis of the job descriptions, using open coding to identify information products, technologies, professional competencies, and personal characteristics.

Results: The job postings exhibited enormous variety in position titles but fell into five main categories: Content Developer/Manager, Grant/Proposal Writer, Medical Writer, Social Media Writer, and Technical Writer/Editor. Information products and technology skills varied substantially with job type. The job postings showed some differentiation in professional competencies across job categories, but they also revealed competencies that were common to all categories.

Conclusion: Technical communication positions now encompass a wide range of audiences, content, contexts, and media. The jobs data illustrate the breadth of products and competencies that drive the field.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: November 1, 2015

More about this publication?
  • Technical Communication, the Society's journal, publishes articles about the practical application of technical communication theory and serves as a common arena for discussion by practitioners. Technical Communication includes both quantitative and qualitative research while showcasing the work of some of the field's most noteworthy writers. Among its most popular features are the helpful book reviews. Technical Communication is published quarterly and is free with membership.
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