Re: Skills

Subject: Re: Skills
From: Andrew Plato <intrepid_es -at- yahoo -dot- com>
To: Techwrl-l <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Thu, 13 Jul 2000 09:09:06 -0700 (PDT)


"Melanie Burrett" wrote ...
>
> I'm trying to get into the field of technical writing. I
> am one credit from finishing my B.A., and I have been
> taking computer courses at my local Community College
> (UNIX, HTML, programming stuff). Will having a B.A. in
> Classics hinder me in any way? I've been looking at job
> adds and what I've seen is 'technical writing or
> english'. Would a recruiter consider Classics to be
> equivalent to a degree in english? Personally, I would
> consider it to be *more* relevant considering a large
> part of the degree focuses on archaeology, which places
> a heavy emphasis on report writing...(I'm blathering a
> bit, but I just woke up:)

Your degree is not important. Recruiters will consider the following things in
order:

Experience in the industry (software engineering, medical, etc.)
Experience with relevant tools (FrameMaker, Word, RoboHelp, etc.)
Experience with relevant technologies (Java, relational databases, etc.)
Availability
Class room experience
College Degree

For the most part, a college degree is *almost* irrelevant. It is good to have
one, but few if any recruiters or companies will consider this an important
issue. What is going to really make a difference is your experience with the
relevant tools and technologies. Work experience is always preferable to
classroom experience.

> On another note... I just bought a book to teach myself
> FrameMaker and XML. Does it matter *where* I acquire
> these skills?

Yes, it does. The best place to acquire skills is on the job where you are

forced to implement practical solutions to the tool. Books and "teach yourself"
techniques are never as desirable as on-the-job training.

The best way to learn these things is to get an entry level job somewhere and
then try to get on a project using these tools.

Basically, if you want to make big money in tech writing, you need to become
very skilled at documenting hot technologies. The hottest thing right now are
tech writers who know software development, can read C++ or Java code, and
networking. Tool knowledge is good, but not as important as technology
experience.

Thus, you're better off to learn programming and engineering techniques than
teaching yourself FrameMaker.

Andrew Plato

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