So Many Educational Choices... (kinda long)

Subject: So Many Educational Choices... (kinda long)
From: Steve Piccolo <pic -at- byu -dot- edu>
To: techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com
Date: Tue, 28 Dec 1999 13:58:24 -0700

Dear Fellow Technical Writers,

I am trying to make an educational decision that will affect my career path
for years to come. The archives have already helped me. I am hoping to
receive some helpful insights on this decision. Please respond to me
directly (pic -at- byu -dot- edu), and I will post a summary to the list.

Before too long, I will complete a bachelor's degree in Information
Systems--a combination of business management and computers (programming,
systems analysis, design, etc.). I enjoy my major, but I don't think it's
my niche. My minor is English.

I am trying to decide between the following three master's degrees (with
approximate starting salaries in the Utah market): Technical Communication
($35-45,000), Instructional Technology ($35-50,000), or Information Systems
($50-70,000). I have experience working part time in tech. writing, tech.
support, and Web design. Now I work PT programming on-line courses for a

I love technical writing. I also love programming. I don't want to be a
business executive. I would rather spend my time working with technology
than going to a ton of meetings.

First possible option: Get my master's in IS, work for a few years in IS
(and make some good money--I know, money shouldn't be my main motivation),
and then move to the instructional-technology or technical-writing field.
(Maybe I would pursue a Ph.D. in Technical Writing or Instructional
Technology before changing professions.) This plan would allow me to start
out developing management skills and to be involved in some of the
unprecedented changes the Web is bringing to the business world, before
changing to something I would likely enjoy more. On the other hand, I don't
want to waste time doing something I might dread.

Second possible option: Get a master's degree in Technical Writing (and
then maybe a Ph.D. in TW or IT). I think I would enjoy this; but my salary
would be lower, and I would be limited in the types of job I could get.

Third possible option: Get a master's degree in Instructional Technology
(and then maybe a Ph.D.). My feelings for this option are similar to those
in the second option.

What should I do? Do you think the assumptions I have made are accurate? I
am very interested to hear thoughts from as many of you as possible. It
would help me to know what kinds of experiences you have had and to hear
what road you would take, if you were in my shoes. And I am curious to know
why you chose technical writing over something else.

By the way, I am hoping to find a quality internship this summer in tech.
writing. If you know of any good ones, please let me know.

Thank you so much for your time,

--Steve Piccolo, pic -at- byu -dot- edu

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