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Technical Communication as User Experience in a Broadening Industry Landscape

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Purpose: Based on an analysis of 502 industry job postings, this article argues that technical communication work shares traits and competencies with the field of UX and that technical communicators who are not already doing UX work are well-qualified to expand their career paths into the UX field and could, in fact, play a central role in UX.

Method: We analyzed 502 user experience job postings from Monster.com. After mining the postings for position title, job type, education level, experience level, location, salary, and industry sector, we conducted a content analysis of the job descriptions, using open coding to identify professional competencies and personal characteristics that employers are seeking in applicants, as well as key technologies and information products.

Results: The user experience job postings could be grouped into five categories—Designer, Developer, Architect, Manager, Researcher—each with a distinct profile in terms of information products, technology skills, and professional competencies. However, the job postings also reflected skills, competencies, and characteristics that were common across job categories, and several of these are areas that overlap with more traditional technical communication positions.

Conclusion: We articulate the advantages and challenges of transitioning into UX and make recommendations to help technical communication practitioners and programs capitalize on the advantages and address the challenges.
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Keywords: COMPETENCIES; JOBS; TECHNOLOGIES; USABILITY; USER EXPERIENCE

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: August 1, 2016

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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