Re: Degrees, certification, blah, et cetera

Subject: Re: Degrees, certification, blah, et cetera
From: "Wing, Michael J" <mjwing -at- INGR -dot- COM>
Date: Sat, 14 Dec 1996 08:42:36 -0600

>I've sat back and watched this thread (yet again) with the same bitter
>amusement
>as Dawn. I graduated with a B.S. in journalism and certificate in technical
>writing in 1990. Since then, I have met several writers with degrees and
>several without degrees. I have seen good and bad in each camp. What I
>*haven't* seen are young (relatively speaking), non-degreed writers. Most of
>the non-degreed writers I have met are at least 10 years my senior in age. I
>would have to guess that the trend is moving towards degreed writers.

Or it means that without a degree, these people had to work their way
into the job instead of being hired into it in their early 20s. That
took a sequence of jobs with increasing responsibility. Therefore, it
may take 10 years before they became a Technical Writer. The future
non-degreed technical writer who is your age may right now be working as
a technician, data-entry person, document coordinator, and so forth.

>When someone graduates from college, they have, to some degree, paid their
>dues.

"to some degree"? Good pun ;^)

>If an employer chooses to use a degree as a criteria, that is their choice.
>You
>can't blame them for that. So what if you are a good non-degreed writer and
>you
>are automatically disqualified?

As pointed out by others, this issue is not black and white. At entry
level, a degree is a great advantage. For non-entry levels the
importance of the degree diminishes with the amount and type of
experience in the candidate and requirements for the job. Don't take
this as me saying the degree is worthless (otherwise, I wouldn't have
got one, let alone two of them); however, it's bearing on the job gets
superseded by experience and real-life application of the skills
learned.

IMO, degrees are preparation to entry the field. They are the quick,
but expensive route in. OJT is another route in. To get into the
field, degrees serve their purpose. Staying, advancing, and excelling
in the field depends on the skills, knowledge, and experience you gain
after entering the field. If a job requires X, Y, Z skills and
knowledge and 10 years applying/developing those skills and knowledge,
the entry source (degree or OJT) into the field takes a back seat to the
actual skills and knowledge attained. If the job requires only a year
or two of experience, the degree looms larger.

>Whoever said life was always fair? Maybe that
>employer pays for it down the road, maybe they don't. However, if you feel
>so
>strongly about the degree issue, would you really want to work for someone
>that
>felt like they settled because you dan't have a degree?

Nobody has said that a degree is useless. I would much rather face
entering the field with one than without one. The argument is the
"closed door" mentality that wants to exclude people who have taken
another route. This smacks of elitism and places the focus on the
accomplishments of the person BEFORE they enter the field instead of the
accomplishments of the person AFTER they enter the field. It's an old
cliche, but "the proof is in the pudding". With a degree, you have a
recipe - the pudding has not yet been made.

>The point is, there are good and bad writers everywhere, regardless of their
>education. There is no productive value in disparaging those with degrees or
>those without.

Then why did you? Didn't you just use the phrase "they settled because
you dan't (sic) have a degree"?

Mike Wing
_____________________________________________
| Michael Wing
| Principal Technical Writer
| Infrastructure Technical Information Development
| http://www.ingr.com/iss/products/mapping/
| Intergraph Corporation
| Huntsville, Alabama
| (205) 730-7250
| mjwing -at- ingr -dot- com


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