RE: The Best TC/TW/TE Education...commentary

Subject: RE: The Best TC/TW/TE Education...commentary
From: eric -dot- dunn -at- ca -dot- transport -dot- bombardier -dot- com
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Wed, 26 Jun 2002 11:53:57 -0400

John, I think this has been said before and I wholeheartedly agree.

<<Getting a degree in TW is will make you feel very comfortable.
However, from an employer's perspective...what does it do for THEM. The problem
with being trained as a technical writer is that you may know how to write, but
you still cannot prove a definable anything to write ABOUT.>>

I think a candidate who knows the technology or product well and can demonstrate
an ability to write adequately is probably far more useful to an employer than a
writer who has a diploma showing they can write well and a promise to learn the
product adequately. As a mechanical engineering graduate writing heavy machinery
maintenance manuals, I think my employment is fairly secure. If I were to lose
my job, I doubt I would have too much trouble finding another one in the heavy
machinery industry given my background. Heck, I might even be able to take a pay
cut and fall back on a job as a junior engineer.

One of the huge strengths I bring to the table for my employer is my background
makes me a very good technical editor. I might not be able to design a
mechanical or electrical system, but I can spot inconsistencies in design docs
and questionable operational and maintenance practices in manuals. While the
engineers are the SMEs of their particular systems, the engineers themselves
have often referred to me for details of the whole system and interactions
between systems as well as how the equipment functions and is used in actual

<<highlight the industry skills they are looking for...add them up by type, then
get that skill.
If your area is Detroit/Automotive, wouldn't an associate degree in mechanical
engineering open some doors?>>

Sounds like a guaranteed winner to me. Honestly, if I was hiring writers to
produce automotive manuals I'd probably want 4-5 mech. eng. background writers
and perhaps 1 tech comm specialist to ensure consistency to a style guide and
get the various output formats correct.

It's the skills beyond typing, copy editing, and template design that will set
you apart from the masses.

Eric L. Dunn

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