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RE: Is technical writing a sellout or fallback career?
Subject:RE: Is technical writing a sellout or fallback career? From:Technical Writer <tekwrytr -at- hotmail -dot- com> To:"Leonard C. Porrello" <leonard -dot- porrello -at- soleratec -dot- com>, <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com> Date:Wed, 20 Aug 2008 12:10:00 -0400
The "current crop" of TWs are increasingly the product of "technical communication" majors, both undergraduate and graduate. Requisite to many of those majors is competency (as evidenced by successful completion of coursework in the topic area) in a technical area. Because software development is readily offshored, TW becomes a good choice for programmers who want to continue programming (rather than abandoning it in favor of writing), but--for one reason or another--may not want or be able to work as programmers.
Certification is an alternative to more formal education. In some cases, it is definitely preferable; an Oracle Certified Professional certification carries a lot more clout (in most cases) than a degree in CIS or MIS. Academics are good for theory, not so much so for practice. Certification strongly indicates competency in action, rather than just words.
"Writing skills" may be overrated; it is the comprehension of the reader or user that matters most, not the writing skill of the writer. Because comprehension is paramount, the ability to transfer knowledge takes precedent over almost every other consideration. It should come as no surprise that the admonition to RTFM comes from a time when manuals and user instructions were (and frequently still are) ignored. While it is convenient to blame users for ignoring the instructions, it might be more useful to consider WHY instructions are routinely ignored.
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