Re: Is TW Still Hospitable to Novices? A Dilemma

Subject: Re: Is TW Still Hospitable to Novices? A Dilemma
From: "Dana Worley" <dana -at- campbellsci -dot- com>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Mon, 29 Jan 2001 16:21:04 -0700

> Sometimes they offered friendly advice. One would say get an IT
> degree; another would suggest a tech writer's certification
> program.

If your friend wants to be a Tech Writer, then TW certification is the
way to go (if he has the resources to do so). I am not familiar with
all of the curricula required for an IT degree, but to be a Technical
Writer you need to know how to... well... write. I have seen many
programmers and IT professionals who were great at what they did
but lacked communication skills. I certainly wouldn't want them
writing my end-user documentation.

> Inevitably, he grew discouraged and wondered if the inspiring stories
> he had heard about people falling sideways in the TW field from other
> professions were exaggerated

I am one of those who fell into the job. With a two year degree I
started my career as a clerk/typist typing manuals for an
engineering team. Twenty years and a few jobs later I am writing
help files and manuals for hardware and software (as well as
product testing, software training, and customer support). I took the
LONG route, however, and I am lucky that I have fairly good writing
skills. I suppose I've also had a few lucky breaks -- companies that
have been willing to take a risk that their investment in me would
pay off.

I suggest the TW certification as a way to possibly shorten that
route and provide more credibility. However, if your friend doesn't
have the time and resources, then he should persevere. He could
possibly look for jobs which combine a skill for which he does have
credibility, along with Tech Writing duties.

Just a few thoughts...

Dana W.
Dana Worley
Applications Engineer
Software Support Group
Campbell Scientific, Inc.
815 W 1800 N
Logan, UT 84321-1784
dana -at- campbellsci -dot- com

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