What have they become? Career evolutions after graduating in technical communication at Université de Paris

As part of the theme for the 9th International Conference on Technical Communication: Evolutions of the Discipline, we have ctarried out a short study to find out what technical communication graduates had become. Here are the insights we gathered from this study.

The study

A survey was sent to alumni of Master and License Pro alumni at Université de Paris. We received:

  • 15 responses from License alumni
  • 60 responses from Master alumni

We received more responses from alumni who had recently graduated:

  • 38 graduated between 2020 and 2015 (within 5 years)
  • 23 graduated between 2014 and 2007 (within 10 years)
  • 14 graduated in or before 2006 (within 15 years)

The survey ran throughout January 2021 and was communicated to Université de Paris alumni through the alumni association ATCDIL, and through LinkedIn groups.

What have they become?

We have grouped job titles into 6 categories:

  • Data: Business analyst
  • Direction: Manager, Director, Product manager, Product owner, VP, CEO
  • Design: Technical architect, Learning Experience designer, Curriculum architect, Content designer, UX writer, Instructional designer
  • Development: Copywriter, Scientific writer, Technical writer, Translator, Proposal writer
  • Delivery: Content manager, Documentation engineer, Project manager
  • Dialogue: Consultant, Knowledge manager, Support engineer

The categories apply across business functions, such as documentation, training and digital learning, change management, operations, technical support, or marketing.

The following chart shows the percentage of respondants for each job title within 5, 10, and 15 years or more after graduation.

Only 2 respondants took a job outside of the technical communication field after graduation, and were not included in this chart.

Evolution of tech comm job titles

We can see that within 10 years, jobs become more diverse, and then consolidate into leadership roles within 15 years and more. A quarter of alumi still hold Development roles after 15 years.

Initial skills applied in current position

We asked participants to list the skills that they had acquired during their training at Université de Paris, which they were still applying in their current position.

Within 5 years, top initial skills are:

  • Writing
  • Website development
  • Information architecture

Within 10 years:

  • Writing is by far the top skill that prevails above all others.

Within 15 years:

  • Writing
  • Website development

Initial skills

Skills acquired since initial position

We asked survey participants to list any additional training they followed after landing their first job.

Added skills

It seems like people currently in Direction roles are the ones who have acquired most skills since their initial training, followed by people in Development roles.

New skills to acquire in current position

We asked survey participants to list any new skills they thought they needed to acquire in their current position.

Within 5 years:

  • Programming languages
  • Video production
  • Domain knowledge

Within 10 years:

  • Domain knowledge
  • Project management
  • Business management, customer relations
  • UX Design

Within 15 years:

  • Content management (XML, CMS, LMS)
  • Management
  • Change management

New skills

Evolutions of the discipline

We asked survey participants to share their thoughts about the future of technical communication as a discipline. They listed the following points:

More varied media formats, more tools

Only evolution possible is to move to a management position

Responsibilities become more varied (jack-of-all trades)

APIs and docs as code, Git

Data analysis, to elaborate a strategy based on facts

Agile methodologies (Scrum) and Design Thinking

Evolution towards roles in quality testing, editing, or project management

More user centricity : UX design and content strategy

AI-generated text involves a move towards domains where human interaction remains crucial (education, health, Human Resources, crafts…)

Better recognition of the profession, improvements in tools for user research and information architecture

Process automation coupled with content management

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