Re: Career Choice and Degree

Subject: Re: Career Choice and Degree
From: MONETTE DENISE P 678-3843 MACA <dmonette -at- ARL -dot- MIL>
Date: Tue, 11 Apr 1995 08:10:02 -0600

On Mon, 10 Apr 1995, William J. Hartzer wrote:

> Rick said, "I've got a degree in technical writing, and I think it was the
> best choice for this field..."

> I disagree with Rick, to a point. I'd prefer to get a degree in the field I'm
> writing about. If I were to do 'it' all over again, I'd major in another
> subject and minor in tech writing. Then I could have my cake and eat it too:
> I'd never have to interview another SME! (grin)

Not to start a war, but...

I have to disagree with William. As a technical writer, it helps to not
be an expert in the field for which you are writing. As an expert, it is
likely that you would carry too much knowledge into your editing, causing
you to miss the parts technical writers are here to catch (the writing,
grammar, etc.). I am not saying that it is not important to learn about
your subject matter, just that it helps sometimes to not be an expert.
What an engineer, scientist, or other SME might find completely
understandable might not be understandable at all to a layperson or a
person in another field. A technical writer that is not an expert in the
field might need an explanation of the subject matter, revealing that the
document might be unclear to its audience.

Denise Monette
dmonette -at- arl -dot- mil

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