RE: MA in English or engineering classes?

Subject: RE: MA in English or engineering classes?
From: David Handy <davidh -at- automsoft -dot- com>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Thu, 6 Jun 2002 15:19:26 +0100

You asked: which would better help the tech-writing career of an English
major -- an engineering qualification or an additional English
qualification? On the face of it, an engineering qualification would add
more to a tech writer's résumé.

But specifically you said, regarding these options:
"I'm wondering what would be more beneficial to me in the future and for a
tech writing career... "
They're two separate issues. I did a BA in English Lit and followed it, for
variety, with an MA in English Lit. I gained no other qualifications; I've
still managed to make a living as a tech writer. In hindsight I'd probably
have headed for a more vocational postgrad course, but I'm delighted I did
that MA. And when I hit lotto, I have all that poetry to read... But it
sounds like your heart lies more with engineering matters side than literary
ones. (You say you miss "engineering principles...") Another techwhirler
said that an aptuitude for math is key for engineering: do you like math any
more now than you did at the start of your degree?

However, I wouldn't expect a qualification in engineering to be a silver
bullet for all tech writing jobs; I'm sure you don't expect that either. An
engineering degree gives you firm technical knowledge in some areas and
proves that you can master technical subjects generally; that's its value in
the tech-writing world. But if you want to focus on technical writing, have
a good look into the areas that tech writers work in. Do you want to work in
an engineering niche? Would you consider taking additional courses in, say,
computer programming? Would you look for jobs that allow you to learn about
programming languages or enginering specialties as a collateral activity;
does that kind of pursuit interest you? These are all avenues and factors to

Whatever you do, best of luck.


-----Original Message-----
From: TECHWR-L digest [mailto:techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com]

Subject: MA in English or engineering classes?
From: "Zucker, Christine" <Christine -dot- Zucker -at- LOGTEC -dot- COM>
Date: Wed, 5 Jun 2002 13:56:29 -0400
X-Message-Number: 56

I graduated college last year with a bachelor's degree in English. For the
past year, I've been editing technical material and doing some technical
writing. I've also been taking some classes for a grad certificate in tech
writing. However, when I look through tech writing job postings, almost
everything requires a strong scientific background or knowledge of
engineering/computing principles. My first year of undergrad was
engineering, but I didn't like the math so I switched to English. Now I'm
starting to miss the engineering principles and wonder if an associates
degree in engineering, on top of my BA in English would come in handy. But
I also have a few courses towards a MA in English.

I'm wondering what would be more beneficial to me in the future and for a
tech writing career...the Master's in English or an associates in
engineering. The associates doesn't encompass quite as much math as the
bachelor's program did, but I would still learn the basic engineering
principles that would help with a tech writing career.

Does anyone have an opinion or suggestion on which option (MA in English or
Associates in engineering) would be more beneficial? Any input is


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