career change
January 4, 2006 1:50 PM   Subscribe

I wouldn't think it would be too hard to move from a career in Technical Writing (11 years) to a career as an Information Architect, but in order to do this, I think I gotta get back to school. What classes should I start with? Is it unreasonable to start applying for junior-level positions right now?

I can write all types of specs, and I have a pretty good feeling for CS, UI principles, etc. But it's the real technical stuff I worry about. I have a pretty good understanding of HTML and CSS, but that's pretty much it. The dream job would be working with Adaptive Path, or 37Signals, but that might be a stretch, given my lack of Flash/Photoshop/PHP/MySQL/Ajax, etc., etc. ....Help!!!!
posted by lilboo to Technology (3 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
You really don't need to go back to school to be an IA--what you do need is practical experience in the field. Even junior-level positions will expect you to have some kind of portfolio of work (sitemaps, wireframes, userflows, etc) to demonstrate that you understand the basics of IA in a project.

I'd start by trying to get some IA work at your curent gig -- even if it's just copying wireframe sketches from paper into Visio, or just talking to IAs on staff. Make clear your interest in the field--IAs love to share knowledge as a general rule.

Next, join AIFIA ( and sign up for the mentoring program.

Find and attend IA or Usability groups in your area--get your networking on.

Read, read, read:;;;;; -- they can direct you to more sites and books on the topic.

Good luck!
posted by gsh at 2:06 PM on January 4, 2006 [1 favorite]

Definitely apply! If you're not qualified they won't hire you, and if they do hire you, you will gather valuable practical experiences. You can take classes later if necessary to fill in gaps in your knowledge. Being a reasonably clueful person who is willing to learn is so much more important than classwork, IMHO.
posted by selfmedicating at 5:04 PM on January 4, 2006

Mark gsh as best answer. Don't worry about the technical stuff -- those skills are almost totally irrelevant to being an IA.
(FWIW, we're not hiring now anyway.)
posted by jjg at 7:55 PM on January 4, 2006

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