No Bucks, No Buck Rogers

Subject: No Bucks, No Buck Rogers
From: Damien Braniff <dbraniff -at- iss-dsp -dot- com>
To: TECHWR-L <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Tue, 28 Mar 2000 08:46:27 +0100

I've followed this thread on TW courses with interest and feel that, as
is so often the
answer to questions on this list - it depends. My take on the subject
is determined by
the answer to the question - why take a TW degree/certificate/whatever?
As I see it
there are three main reasons:

You want to get into the TW field either straight from college or
as a job change.
For those switching careers (most of the TWers I know were
programmers/engineers etc that fell into the profession because
they could write)
certificate courses teaching the "mechanics" of writing (format
etc) are really
useful, supplementing existing skills. For complete newbies, while
this is useful, I
feel that it needs to contain a lot more in the way of "real life"
experience and a
broader background than jsut writing.

Experienced TWers who want the qualification (MA/MSc/whatever)
unfortunately, no matter how much experience you have some hirers
see a
degree and think "this person must be good". Fortunately most
employers use
common sense, still experience AND a degree/certificate etc looks
good on a
CV and could give you that edge in a close run race.

People who do it for the fun of learning. I know a lot of TWers who
have done
course for enjoyment - I fancy learning about that, with the fact
that it may well be
useful not the main thing on their mind

Once you decide which category you fall into you can go looking for
courses that meet
your needs. Those who think it through will find the course that best
suits them and they
will probably benefit from it immensely, as will future employers.

Having said all that I've looked at courses in the UK, where degree
level TW courses is
relatively new, and there seem to be a very wide range of courses
available with
fewreally specific to TW. I get the impression here that there is a
perceived need for
qualified people and colleges are trying to fill the gap but it's early
days yet. Lots of
courses on design and other aspects of TW but few that cover the broader
With the situation as it is here at the moment it is (relatively!) easy
to pick appropriate

In the US the TW degree is much more advanced (in terms of time) so
there are many
more courses offering essentially the same thing. Here you need to do a
lot more
digging to differentiate between courses - better teachers, more "real
world" etc.

Basically it comes down to horses for courses - it's up to you to pick
the right course for
you. And, as everyone is an individual, the benefits from a course will
vary from person
to person. If I've and engineering background then basic engineering is
going to be a
bit superfluous but programmings and writing skill may be right up my
street etc.

As has been said, by several people, there is a vast range of courses
out there ranging
from the excellent to the downright useless (most of us have been on at
least one of
each!). So if you're going to do one, choose well and back it up with
as much real
experience as you possibly can. Use what you learn and get a good mentor
who'll give
you the feedback to put it into perspective in relation to what you're
actually doing.


Damien Braniff
Technical Author
Integrated Silicon Systems Ltd. Tel: +44 28 90 50 4000
50 Malone Road Fax: +44 28 90 50
Belfast BT9 5BS Web:

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