Re: real tech writers? RE: Out-of-Work Tech Writers and Switching Careers

Subject: Re: real tech writers? RE: Out-of-Work Tech Writers and Switching Careers
From: Janet Murphy <janet -at- fuse -dot- net>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Tue, 25 Jun 2002 10:49:51 -0400

I mostly lurk on this list, but I'm coming out to applaud your categorization of
tech writers -- technical communcators, I call us.

I've been in the biz for 14 yrs nows. I LOVE it, even the crummy parts of the

After sinking my teeth into TC, I quickly found that if I wanted to succeed in
the field and be respected as a TC, I needed to go back to school. I live in
Cincinnati, which has several colleges and universities close by. I found the
best program in my area, succeeded in getting accepted, and am now on my way to
finishing a Master's Degree in Technical Communication. It's taken me 7 years,
but has been well worth the effort/cost [I've paid out of pocket, no employer
tuition aid].

Why did I do this? Because:
1. I grew tired of the TC competition beating me on projects because they had
degrees/certificates specific to the field.
2. A degree in TC helps to overcome employer/HR perceptions that "anyone" can
3. I wanted respect from the technical people and end-users. By taking the time
to study the TC discipline, theories, and publishing methods/tools has given me
an ever-growing knowledge base that is invaluable and helps tremendously in
working w/end users and technical people.
4. Most importantly, I realized that I didn't know what I didn't know -- such
ignorance was hampering my ability to succeed professionally [i.e., staying
employed]. Solution: go back to school.

What frustrates me about other TW/TC I have worked with:
1. Many come from various backgrounds/disciplines and profess to "have a knack"
for TC. Please -- if you have a knack, back it up with REAL training. Get a
degree in the field or at least a certificate. Someone professing to be a TW/TC
that has no real training in the discipline will quickly be identified
dis-respected by those who DO have training in the field.

2. I can't think of a #2 right now.

Thanks for the soapbox.

Janet Murphy
Cincinnati OH

David Lettvin wrote:

> <snip to wonderful soapbox>
> Technical Writers
> --------------------
> This person loves to communicate. They may like technology, or write poetry
> in their free time, but at the core they love their craft. There is nothing
> they would rather do than make the light go on in the user's brain. Real
> technical writers are passionate about their discipline, their craft, and
> their challenges.
> I regret to say that they are the smallest group.

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