U.S. Government Acknowledges Technical Writers As Distinct from All Other Writing Professions

The Occupational Outlook and Handbook (OOH), published by the US Department of Labor's Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), will have an individual report on technical writers in the next edition.

The change acknowledges that the requirements of technical writing are sufficiently distinct from all other writing professions to warrant affording technical writers their own report in the 2010-2011 edition that will be available to the public on the BLS Web site in December 2009.

STC has been working with the BLS since 2007 to update its definition of the technical communication profession. That year, STC responded to a request from the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) to update the Standard Occupational Classification (SOC), the classification system used by all U.S. and state government agencies when collecting and publishing information on employment, wages, and salaries. Although the Standard Occupational Classification Review Committee chose not to endorse STC's recommendation to replace the term and definition for "technical writer" with a new classification and definition for "technical communication specialist", the request did receive a sympathetic hearing at the Bureau of Labor Statistics' Occupational Outlook Division, which has maintained a dialog with STC ever since.

Why is this important?

The Occupational Outlook Handbook is one of the federal government's best selling publications because it is the key reference tool for the human resources profession. The reference details the latest changes in nearly 300 different occupations tracked by the BLS every two years. The OOH is a corner-of-the-desk fixture in most HR departments, school guidance offices, career centers, and employment counselor offices nationwide. "Having the US Bureau of Labor Statistics recognize technical writers as a profession distinct from all other writing professions independently confirms STC's claim that not all writers can do technical writing," explained 2008-2009 STC President Mark Clifford. Clifford is an international talent recruiter and consultant for the technical communication field. "We're very pleased to have this distinction made in an important reference tool that is so well respected by the human resource community."

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