Re: Non-technical, Technical Writers

Subject: Re: Non-technical, Technical Writers
From: Jill Burgchardt <jburgcha -at- PESTILENCE -dot- ITC -dot- NRCS -dot- USDA -dot- GOV>
Date: Wed, 6 May 1998 09:32:37 -0600

I agree with Candace. Technical/non-technical is not the primary
issue. Just for the record, I am a Liberal Arts major, but I also
have an Associate's Degree in Electronics. I've worked with
electronics and/or software for over 20 years. Technical knowledge is
an asset, but just one among many.

I also think the job market is a big factor. People I wouldn't want
to hire are getting positions, because employers a) don't have enough
qualified candidates or b) aren't willing to pay enough to attract
qualified candidates. A couple years ago, highly qualified people
were out looking. Just this week I've had two people call me asking
if I knew anyone they could contact. (If you're in/near Ft. Collins,
Colorado, and looking for a job, let me know.)

<RANT> Lastly, I think tool proficiency has given some people
(technical and non-technical) an unrealistic perception of their own
skills. I suspect most of us know someone who's used Front Page to
put up a simple web site and now regards himself or herself as both a
programmer and a technical writer. After all, they might have used
two lines of Javascript they copied from another site. I've even seen
some of these people get jobs on such flimsy credentials. The thing
is, when an employer gets burned by their own stupidity in hiring one
of these people, what happens? The employer goes to the other extreme
and decides the only competent people are the "real techies." In
other words, next time they're hiring they rule out many qualified
people because they've now decided a technical degree is the critical
qualification. Neither approach looks at the tasks of an individual
job and evaluates what skills are truly needed. </RANT>

Jill Burgchardt
jburgcha -at- pestilence -dot- itc -dot- nrcs -dot- usda -dot- gov

P.S. As a Coloradoan I interpreted "hard" as difficult. School of
Mines reputation here is that it's very rigorous, not just technical.
As a Colorado State graduate, anything I might say about that "other"
school John mentioned would be biased.

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