Re: Technical Writing Certificate

Subject: Re: Technical Writing Certificate
From: "Gene Kim-Eng" <techwr -at- genek -dot- com>
To: <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com>
Date: Wed, 22 Apr 2009 09:50:55 -0700

I would never discourage anyone, potential new writer or experienced,
from getting training (or more training if they've already had some).
As I have previously said, even an experienced professional will most
likely either learn something new or refresh something old they haven't
done in a while from even the most basic of courses.

What I do want to "discourage" folks from is the belief that any
certificate, whether it's a four-year college degree or a tech writing
certificate from a junior college, will automatically make one qualified
for work in the field, and also from believing what their instructors in
academia tell them are the most "important" things about the field, if
for no other reason than to avoid having to look at that hangdog face
that new writers often have when they discover that their very first OTJ
experience is going to feel a lot like taking yet another year of
training. This is not unique to technical writing, BTW, as way back in
the 60's when I got my start as a junior engineer I commonly heard
people tell me (while I was spending my first year out of school inking
and dimensioning the other engineers' rough pencil drawings) that the
first thing employers needed to do with new engineering grads was to get
us to "unlearn" everything our instructors had taught us about what
working as engineers was going to be like and reeducate us about how
things worked in the real world.

And just to be curmudgeonly, the "basic skills" of senior technical
writers in the fields my experience has been in consist of technical,
product and project management knowledge. Unless you're a company's sole
writer, "common tech writer skills" such as applying styles,
spellchecking and HTML are things you offload to the newly-hired
entry-level writers. The ones sitting at the hand-me-down computers
with the hangdog expressions on their faces.

Gene Kim-Eng


----- Original Message -----
From: "Julie Stickler" <jstickler -at- gmail -dot- com>

>I really wish that folks on this list would stop discouraging
> potential new technical writers from getting formalized training.
> Education is never wasted effort.

> And for learning on the job, I personally find it frustrating to have
> to spend my time correcting mistakes made by someone whose job title
> is "senior technical writer" but who doesn't know basic skills such as
> using styles, using spell check before publishing, task based
> documentation, how to chunk information, basic HTML, or any one of
> hundreds of other common tech writer skills.

> So one vote here for formal training.

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References:
RE: Technical Writing Certificate: From: Keith Hood
Re: Technical Writing Certificate: From: Gene Kim-Eng
Re: Technical Writing Certificate: From: Julie Stickler

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