Analysis of the academic job market in 2002-2003 reveals that 118 nationally advertised academic jobs named technical or professional communication as a primary or secondary specialization. Of the 56 in the "primary" category that we were able to contact, we identified 42 jobs filled, 10 unfilled, and 4 pending. However, only 29% of the jobs for which technical or professional communication was the primary specialization were filled by people with degrees in the field, and an even lower percent (25%) of all jobs, whether advertised for a primary or secondary specialization, were filled by people with degrees in the field. Search chairs report a higher priority on teaching and research potential than on a particular research specialization, and 62% of all filled positions involve teaching in related areas (composition, literature, or other writing courses).
You have to create a professional persona. That persona is a full-fledged adult who demonstrates a tightly organized research program, a calm confidence in a research contribution to a field or discipline, a clear and specific trajectory of publications, innovative but concise, non-emotional ideas about teaching at all levels of the curriculum, a non-defensive openness to the exchange of ideas, and most importantly, a steely-eyed grasp of the real (as opposed to fantasy) needs of actual hiring departments, which revolve ultimately, in the current market, around money.
The process leading up to your first faculty job is almost guaranteed to be a nerve-racking ordeal. Many applicants don't know how to make a good first impression. It is common--and reasonable--to question whether you have the right set of skills and credentials for a particular faculty job. Whether at a large research-intensive university on the West Coast or a small teaching college in New England, the recruitment process is much the same all across the country.
Because technical communication involves the knowledge of technology, expertise is associated with anything practical. I've come to think about this battle in terms of what my colleague Allan Heaps used to call the PageMaker Guy. In practical terms, the PageMaker Guy is the person in an organization or a group who 'knows' how to use technology, who can fix other people's technological messes, or who sacrifices valuable research time helping other people use technology. The PageMaker Guy is a phenomenon for which a person is anointed. Those of us in 'PageMaker Guy' situations often resent this role because it subsumes our identity to the extent that we fear our colleagues might ignore the depth of knowledge necessary for this role as well as our equally deserved scholarly accomplishments.
When thinking about scholarship, tenure, and promotion in professional communication, we must remember that the field has come into its own only in the last decade. Called by different names -- technical writing, technical and scientific writing, business communication, or the more inclusive term we use -- professional communication has now moved from a nearly invisible position in the service ranks of academic departments to recognition as a discipline with its own scholarly agenda.
This short guide gathers a collection of questions evaluators can ask about a project, a check list of what to look for in a project, and some ideas about how to find experts for evaluators who are assessing digital work for promotion and tenure.
In April 2003, STC launched its first salary survey for full-time faculty members teaching in U.S. technical communication programs at 2 and 4 year colleges and universities. This survey looked at compensation, as well as information specific to this group of educators.
This article reports United States salary data from the April 2003 survey of Society for Technical Communication members who identify themselves as educators. It provides analysis of salary data based on type of institution, rank, tenure status, experience, education level, sex, and age. It also reports on benefits, administrative responsibilities, job satisfaction, and program size.
Harner, Sandi. Technical Communication Quarterly (This article reports United States salary data from the April 2003 survey of Society for Technical Communication members who identify themselves as educators. It provides analysis of salary data based on type of institution, rank, tenure status, experience, education level, sex, and age. It also reports on benefits, administrative responsibilities, job satisfaction, and program size.). Careers>Academic>Salaries
As the sole faculty member in professional writing, one must find reasonable means for integrating research, teaching, and service. This integration means understanding the institutional context, balancing the research-teaching-service commitments for tenure, and creating a supportive community for professional writing teaching and scholarship.
If technical communication has come of age, then its faculty owe their newer colleagues (and themselves) a clear road map for professional development and career progress. Hiring new faculty for maturing academic programs demands attention to the systems of promotion and tenure, which anchor faculty review and reward structures and define academic career success.
This essay explores the question: 'Given the high value that most institutions put on scholarship that appears in refereed journals or in books produced by well-respected presses, how are innovative, intellectually valuable, well-researched, self-published Web sites to be counted in the processes of promotion, merit, tenure, review, and recognition?'
Take pity on me and my colleagues. As a faculty member who serves on faculty search committees and a frequent reader of job applications, I dread reading teaching statements. I have even considered asking search committees to stop asking for these essays (in which applicants discuss their teaching philosophies and their anticipated approaches to teaching) because they are so often insipid and painful to read. I've never actually made that suggestion, though, and for now, at my institution (and many others), teaching statements remain a required part of an application for a faculty position. So for every permanent-faculty search I'm involved in, I end up reading as many as several hundred insipid teaching statements. Have mercy.