TechWhirl (TECHWR-L) is a resource for technical writing and technical communications professionals of all experience levels and in all industries to share their experiences and acquire information.
For two decades, technical communicators have turned to TechWhirl to ask and answer questions about the always-changing world of technical communications, such as tools, skills, career paths, methodologies, and emerging industries. The TechWhirl Archives and magazine, created for, by and about technical writers, offer a wealth of knowledge to everyone with an interest in any aspect of technical communications.
I've just joined the list and I've notice the concern of others about
whether one needs a degree to be a competent Technical Writer.
I have to admit that I have a degree albeit a lowly one from a prestigious
UK university. However I followed this by 6 years as a design engineer
(navigation computers and display systems for helicopters) then 6 years
in sales/application engineering and product marketing before I took up
technical writing 6 years ago within a semiconductor company.
Now what gave me the experience to start technical writing? especially as
I've now taken the plunge to be self-employed to sell my own capabilities.
I really do not think that it was the Degree, moreso it was my experience
and an inherent (latent) capacity for technical writing.
Note that in the UK it is often viewed that a university education
primarily teaches you to be independent, to know how to find information
and then use it, rather than the subject taught (after all - I did Physics).
I've written datasheet and application manuals for several ranges of
microcontrollers and memories, and I've recently been responsible for
documentation for some pretty hi-tech devices and a IBM/Lotus Notes
I think the primary concern for technical writing is a capacity to
understand a technical brief, and then to reformat and present the same
technical content but in a user-oriented format.
Whether you have a degree or not is then irrelevant. It's only advantage
can be in getting your first foothold into industry in order to begin
the real education. Certainly having been face to face with customers
in my sales days has helped me understand what is really needed in
consultant, technical writer, DTP, training
words are but mine own, I speaketh not for another
ipblythe -at- aix -dot- pacwan -dot- net BSc ARCS Member: IEEE, Internet Society
ipblythe -at- ieee -dot- org http://perso.pacwan.fr/ipblythe/