University Degrees and Technical Writing

Subject: University Degrees and Technical Writing
From: Patrick McCarthy <PTM123 -at- AOL -dot- COM>
Date: Fri, 20 Sep 1996 21:04:06 -0400

9/20/96


I agree that obsession with university degrees can be a real pain when going
through the interview process. Technical communication is a broad-based
field and experience does play a key role in documentation development. A
degree
should not be the only measure of a candidate's skill.

On the other hand, I hope you are not suggesting that anyone who has passed
English 101 and knows a few buzzwords can call themselves a technical writer.
Lets not forget that requirements for most technical communication jobs today
demand at least four years of college. Unlike years ago, many companies want
a technical writer to start the documentation process DURING the development
of the product.This means that you must piece together the functionality of
the product just like the engineers and developers do. To perform this task
successfully requires one
to have a thorough understanding of the technology you are dealing with, a
working
knowledge of engineering documentation PLUS the standard set of technical
communication skills.


If you add up all of the course work necessary to attain this skill level, it
would
be near the level a BA. Just look at the following job description:


Job Title: Senior Software Technical Writer (Software
Development Documentation)

Description: Writer to develop and maintain software
development documents. Must be able to present complex
information to a technical audience with efficiency and
precision. Should be familiar with SGML authoring tools
and have a basic understanding of the software
development process (what each function does and the
basic processes involved). Should also be familiar with
online documentation development.

Qualifications:

-BA/equivalent experience
-Must have at least 3-5 years technical writing
experience in a C/UNIX environment.
-Knowledge of Standard Generalized Markup Language
(SGML) tools and document modeling.
-Be familiar with the basic concepts of Object Oriented
Programming.
-Be familiar with a Graphic User Interface (GUI) design
under UNIX or Windows NT.
-Be familiar with creating online documentation.
-FrameMaker or Interleaf authoring tools.
-Documentation distribution through CD-ROM.




Regards,


Patrick McCarthy
Principal Info
Developer
Onyx Technologies
Hanover Park, IL
(630) 483-3077
ptm123 -at- aol -dot- com


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