Re: Associate Degree in Technical Communications

Subject: Re: Associate Degree in Technical Communications
From: "Mike Starr" <mike -at- writestarr -dot- com>
To: <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com>
Date: Sat, 10 Feb 2007 12:52:36 -0600

I was already a technical writer when Gateway started the program in the late 80s. As a graduate of a different Gateway program I already had all of the core general education requirements met as well as courses that would satisfy optional requirements. That left the core technical writing courses. My experience gave me enough knowledge to test out of a few of those courses and I enrolled in the program and took the rest. As a result of my advanced standing, I was the very first graduate out of that program in 1991.

Since then, I've served twice as a member of the curriculum committee and can tell you that it's a very good program and that Dick Gage, who runs the program is an excellent instructor and extremely dedicated to making it the best possible program. He's worked with many businesses and technical writers to make sure that the curriculum gives students what they need to be successful in the field. Every student must complete a one-semester internship to get some real-world experience. If you have any questions about the program, drop Dick an email (gaged -at- gateway -dot- tec -dot- wi -dot- us) and I'm sure he'll be happy to answer.

Having said that, every job or contract assignment I've ever held has had "Bachelor's Degree" as one of the requirements. But what's gotten me the job was experience. An Associate Degree in Technical Communication is a great starting point. It should get you in the door with companies who are in the market for entry-level technical writers or with companies who want a technical writer at the lowest possible salary. It's not going to get you a job as a senior technical writer... you've gotta have experience to get there. Remember, all job descriptions as seen on Monster, Dice, etc. are wish lists. What they ask for and what they're willing to accept are two different things.

With respect to credits transferring to the University of Wisconsin system, that may be a little dicey... a few credits may transfer but make sure you know what will and what won't before proceeding. I have heard that almost all credits from the technical communication program at Gateway will transfer to Milwaukee School of Engineering (, which has a Bachelor's Degree program in Technical Communication. However, I have not researched that. MSOE is a highly respected engineering school in Milwaukee.

Mike Starr WriteStarr Information Services
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----- Original Message -----
Message: 12
Date: Fri, 9 Feb 2007 08:47:55 -0500
From: "dlang -at- terracom -dot- net" <dlang -at- terracom -dot- net>
Subject: Associate Degree in Technical Communications


I am an experienced technical writer but currently lack a degree.

I found an online program at Gateway Technical College in Wisconsin that
results in an Associate Degree in Technical Communications:

Since this college is part of a vocational/technical group, some or all of
the credits will most likely transfer to the Wisconsin state college system
later. (I'm verifying this)

My question to the group: in your experience, how marketable is an
associate degree? Most of the job postings I've seen for tech writers have
required at least a Bachelor's degree.

My areas of specialization include software documentation and instructional
material design, but I am considering transitioning to marketing

Thanks in advance for any guidance you can provide,

Dixie Lang

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