TechWhirl (TECHWR-L) is a resource for technical writing and technical communications professionals of all experience levels and in all industries to share their experiences and acquire information.
For two decades, technical communicators have turned to TechWhirl to ask and answer questions about the always-changing world of technical communications, such as tools, skills, career paths, methodologies, and emerging industries. The TechWhirl Archives and magazine, created for, by and about technical writers, offer a wealth of knowledge to everyone with an interest in any aspect of technical communications.
>Do I go back to school to get a degree in Technical Communications, or do I
>go back to get an Information Technology/Computer Information Science
>degree? Is it more important to have more knowledge in writing than
>computers? (I am in the computer industry!) In our field, is it even
>necessary to have a Masters degree? Or should I just pick up a couple of
>classes to stay on top or technology?
A degree might impress HR types, but formal qualifications aren't
necessary in the field. There's too many jobs and not enough
writers. Those infinite monkeys with their infinite keyboards
should have no trouble finding work, once they manage to produce
their collective resume.
Also, while I'm sure that exceptions exist, tech-writing programs
don't seem to prepare their students very well. From all reports,
many seem poorly conceived and poorly staffed. However, the main
problem may be that the classroom simply doesn't prepare people
for working. Classes in journalism and editing seem to have the
All of which means that, if you're going back for a degree, you
risk being bored, and putting in time just to get a piece of
paper that you don't really need.
Updating isn't a bad motivation, but another reason to go back to
school is for your own interest. With two years of experience,
you can start to think about specializing, and can use the
occasional seminar or class as a way of sampling fields that
sound interesting. Whether you specialize more in writing than
computing depends entirely on your interests. As discussions on
this list have shown time and time again, tech-writers can be
successful with either emphasis. It's really a matter of what you
want, and not just a matter of what will make you more
employable. As an experienced tech-writer, you're already highly
Bruce Byfield, Outlaw Communications
Contributing Editor, Maximum Linux
bbyfield -at- axionet -dot- com | Tel: 604.421.7189
"Tell him who emptied the pools of Apollo that the pool of wisdom
closed as well. The god has no more water. The Oracle is dead."
- The Pythoness at Delphi to the Emperor Justinian.