I want to be a tech writer

Subject: I want to be a tech writer
From: Gwen Barnes <gwen -dot- barnes -at- MUSTANG -dot- COM>
Date: Thu, 13 Jul 1995 15:46:15 GMT

-> I'm seriously contemplating an attempt at technical writing. I need

-> Type of education?
-> Would it be realistic to find work as a technical writer with the
-> qualifications listed above or would it be better to get a degree in
-> technical writing?

There's only one answer to that ... what are the results of your having
tried to find work as a technical writer *before* investing the years
and $$$ in higher education? If they all say "come back when you have a
Ph.D. and we'll hire you at VP salary levels", by all means go for the
degree. And let us know how it turns out so we can do it too <g>

-> Level of education?
-> Is a PhD in technical writing, or Rhetoric and Compostion
-> combined with an M.A. in technical writing, worth the time and
-> effort as far getting jobs, receiving more pay, or expanding
-> opportunities?

Your present path would qualify you to write about being a grad student,
but I don't think there's much market outside the halls of academe for

The people who get paid the best are the ones who can demonstrate to
clients or employers that they can solve problems effectively and
produce quality work within the client's schedules.

The people who get the most satisfaction from their work aren't
necessarily the best paid, either. Is that important to you? If you're
looking primarily for big paychecks, scrub the techwriting and go to
med school. Even that's not a sure thing, though.

-> Technical Expertise?
-> What's the most marketable technical area to combine with
-> a technical writing degree?

What are you interested in? I think a degree in geography is perfectly
appropriate for technical writing in just about any field, so long as
you are a good writer, you're quick to pick up the subject matter, and
you're good at commmunicating it to your audience.

I have a B.F.A. in creative writing, and it qualifies me to get job
interviews, nothing more. The quality of your work, and the level of
interest you offer to a prospective employer, is far more important than
any college credentials you might obtain.

There is no magic course you can take that will guarantee success as a
technical writer. Wouldn't it be a shame to find that out only after
struggling for years in grad school and amassing huge student loan

Gwen gwen -dot- barnes -at- mustang -dot- com
http://www.mustang.com ftp://ftp.mustang.com
MSI * Connecting the world 805-873-2500

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