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>>Karen Kay wondered what Jane Bergen meant by:
>>>"but my personal experience has been
> > that writers with even a few good tech writing courses have a more
> > professional approach to their writing."
I don't know what Jane means by "more professional" but I do think writers
who have had formal training in technical writing have a different
perspective. A formal education lets you know what technical writing
*could* be and how technical communicators truly add value to the
organization. If you work for an organization that thinks tech writers are
glorified word-processors, the perspective obtained from a formal education
lets you know why its that way and how you can change the perception (and
why you need to).
I would never know all that this profession offers if I learned about
technical writing through a variety of different technical writing jobs.
Anyone who reads this list can see how diverse the job description of
"technical writer" can be. A formal education can help you decide what a
technical writer is, and what a technical writer is not.
If you have the time and money, go back to school. If you can work while
you go, even better. (Note: You may find that your education opens doors;
half-way through my program I got my first job, as did many of my
This purpose of this message is not to say that technical writers with no
formal training can't and don't change the paradigm. I am sure there are
highly-motivated writers out there who do. Interestingly enough though, I
am the only writer of ten writers in my group who has had any formal
education in technical writing and the only writer who belongs to STC.
(Thankfully, my manager does belong, and he is one of those
highly-motivated people I talked about above.)