Career Story: Technical Editor For A Government Contractor

Technical Editor For A Government Contractor

Job Title: Technical Editor

Type of Company: I work for a government contractor.

Education: BA, History, UCLA •• MLS, UCLA

Previous Experience: I worked as a substitute teacher in an elementary school for several years and then as a part-time librarian in an alternative high school.

Job Tasks: I currently work for a government contractor which provides technical and administrative support to the Defense Information Systems Agency (DISA). My job is editing the reports, test plans, procedures, meeting summaries, briefings, monthly reports, and major documentation that are called for by the contract. I check to make sure that governmental requirements and our established formatting standards have been followed and that we've used readable business English. If I have any questions, I communicate with the original writer(s) to clear them up. Ultimately these reports are posted to our web portal, although we have some cases where hard copies are made and bound.

Most of our reports are very short (5-10 pages, not including attachments of briefings), but some can be several hundred pages long. Shorter ones take me about a day for all of the processing steps (editing, final approval, signature, processing for delivery), but longer ones can take a week or more just to finish editing. I spend most of my days sitting at my desk, reading my computer screen. It doesn't sound very exciting, but I generally like the subject matter and enjoy the variety of reports I have to read. I rarely work on a single report at one time; usually I have several that I'm working on concurrently, shuttling back and forth to my initial edit on one, while waiting for my questions to be answered by the author of another, and so on. And as a result I often have some leeway in what I am a doing at any particular time.

Best and Worst Parts of the Job: Since I like to "play" with words, rewriting something to make it clearer or more concise is actually fun. Being detail-oriented helps to maintain consistency across all of the documentation produced under the contract. I have a fair amount of flexibility in the hours I work so if I want (or have) to take a day or a few hours off, I can work more hours in the pay period and not take personal time. Another big plus is when I leave the office, the work stays there and I am free to live the rest of my life.

The worst parts happen when I have a particularly poor piece of writing I have to work on and a very short amount of time to finish my job, and when I think of all the things I wanted to grow up to do, and this doesn't fit the picture.

Job Tips:
1. Enjoy reading. 2. Know Microsoft Office products. 3. As with any job, be sure to ask questions about anything and everything. Write everything down so you can refer to your notes as you are working along and that way you you aren't missing any steps or information that will help you do your job.

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