Degrees? (was: "not technical enough")

Subject: Degrees? (was: "not technical enough")
From: "Hart, Geoff" <Geoff-H -at- MTL -dot- FERIC -dot- CA>
To: "Techwr-L (E-mail)" <TECHWR-L -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>, "'Evans, Amy M.'" <AEvans -at- wcom -dot- net>
Date: Wed, 26 Jul 2000 11:33:29 -0400

Amy Evans wondered <<I am a Technical Writer with two years Tech Writing
experience. I graduated from OSU 2 years ago, with a major in English. I
am looking to further my education; however, I am not sure what path to
take! Do I go back to school to get a degree in Technical Communications, or
do I go back to get an Information Technology...
degree? Is it more important to have more knowledge in writing than

I'm from the "no learning is ever wasted" school of life, and firmly believe
that you should spend the rest of your career learning as much as possible;
that might bias my response. <g> The thing about degrees is that some
employers consider them a substitute for skill or experience, and in that
sense, it rarely hurts to have a specialist degree on your resume. If
nothing else, it gets you past the first cut by a Personnel department that
looks for keywords rather than actually reading the resume and finding out
whether you can do the job. Degrees can also speed promotion, since some
companies consider advanced degrees important in people they plan to

That being said, with the industry in its current state, experience is still
more important than credentials. (That will eventually change as the
profession matures, but for the moment, skill still gets you further than a
degree.) If you're happy at your current employer and they're satisfied with
your work, there's probably no need to go back for additional degrees. (I've
got 15 years of experience and not a tech-comm degree to my name. Instead,
I've got a long list of tech-comm publications to my name, which is almost
as good as a degree.) If your employer would be willing to keep you employed
while you go to school, or even pay for your degree, then by all means, go
for it. If not, ask yourself first why you need the degree, and whether
there are other means of getting the same results.

--Geoff Hart, FERIC, Pointe-Claire, Quebec
geoff-h -at- mtl -dot- feric -dot- ca

"Technical writing... requires understanding the audience, understanding
what activities the user wants to accomplish, and translating the often
idiosyncratic and unplanned design into something that appears to make
sense."--Donald Norman, The Invisible Computer

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