Re: Introduction and Breaking in
Another factor weighing in quite heavily is the fact that I don't want to be climbing ladders and pushing large tool boxes into my old age.
Don't be too sure that you won't be doing some of that as a tech-writer. On my first tech-writing job, I lugged pieces of equipment down to the loading dock to get some proper weights for the technical specs. On others, I've carted around skips of manuals :-)
In order to break into the tech writing field, what would be more useful--a degree in technical communication, IT, or computers?
You don't really NEED any degree. Many - perhaps the majority, I'm not sure - of technical writers don't have a degree in technical writing. Some don't even have a degree in a related field. Having a degree may help you get an interview at some companies, but it's not an absolute necessity.
However, if you do decide to get a degree, or to take a few courses to increase your qualification, your choice will depend on your existing strengths and your interests. Some people are quite content with taking a degree in technical writing, and seem to do well enough to please themselves with their prospects. Others would argue that the basics of technical writing are not that difficult, and would urge you to focus on IT. Still others would point to the number of jobs that request specific tools and suggest that you brush up on your computing skills.
The direction that you take depends on how you answer two questions:
- What are your weaknesses?
- Do you want to specialize or generalize?
If you want to specialize, then you might want to focus on learning more in areas that you already have some knowledge in (I'm assuming, of course, that you have a basic competence in the other areas). However, if you want to generalize, that you might want to eliminate your weaknesses. Either strategy can lead to a successful career and job satisfaction, so which you choose is a matter of personal preference.
Actually, I 'd prefer to telecommute and would very much appreciate any advice or information anyone has to offer in this regard.People who telecommute generally have unique skills in high demand or else are trusted employees - usually both. I wouldn't hope for too much telecommuting if you're just starting out. You might be able to take the occasional day, but you'll be lucky to telecommute regularly.
Bruce Byfield 604.421.7177 bbyfield -at- axionet -dot- com
"Now everything's lurching out of control, they're infiltrating my head,
When I woke up this morning, they were all around my bed,
If I knew who the enemy was, I'd shoot the bastard - dead."
-Leon Rosselson, "Somebody's Stolen the End of My Dream"
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Introduction and Breaking in: From: Laura Selden
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