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I have been watching the debate over degrees - to have or to have not.
I think one of the biggest drawbacks to this discussion is the prevalent
practice of people and institutions placing too much emphasis on the
letters at the end of a name. Practical, personal experience is not
quantifiable except by listing the places where the experience was
gained and the length of time spent there.
Degrees give a snapshot of what a person knows (or is supposed to know).
Even though there are many qualified technical writers who have come
into the profession through tangential means, most positions now require
a college degree. This requirement satisfies many demands at once.
First, the company knows it is getting a "degree'd" individual and that
alone allows basic assumptions on the part of the employer: the
individual is bright, has resolve (I mean after all, if they finished
four years of school, then that's resolve!), they have a general breadth
of education, and that they communicate reasonably well. Now, compare
this to the tech writer who has no degree but maybe came into the
profession out of the military. let's say. This particular person would
have the same skill set as the degree holder yet....yet....the degree
holder will get the job over the person without the degree in most
Whew! That said, I think that corporations and technological firms need
to consider experience in addition to degrees. Obviously, the
combination is an explosive partnership, but there are many talented
writers who could do a better job than some college graduates due to
their experience. Looking at the curriculum of a four-year college
course in technical writing, if you strip away all of the GUR's and look
only at the core courses for the major, these courses could probably
IMHO be condensed into a certificate program without much loss as to the
general requirements. This allows those who have boatloads of experience
to put a finishing touch on their tech writing and impress employers as