Considering a career in TW?

Subject: Considering a career in TW?
From: "Cepek, Marta" <marta -at- M3ISYSTEMS -dot- QC -dot- CA>
Date: Sun, 16 Jul 1995 16:04:27 -0400

Steve asked:

> Is a PhD in technical writing, or Rhetoric and Compostion
>combined with an M.A. in technical writing, worth the time and effort as
>far getting jobs, receiving more pay, or expanding opportunities?

Steve, there will probably be lots of people who will strongly disagree with
what I'm about to advise you. Still, here goes:

You said you were "stongly considering" a stab at technical writing. Well,
for the time being, forget any additional education, unless you like being
in academia and want to put off working in the real world for yet another
few years.

A TW degree won't guarantee you a job. You *can* get a TW job without one.
Beat the "can't get a job without experience; can't get experience without a
job" syndrome and take an entry-level job with a company that's willing to
hire you with the education and skills you already have. Consider it an
apprenticeship or trial period before you make up your mind if you're cut
out for it. Accept $20K if that's all you can find. Stick with it for at
least 6 months. You will either not be able to stand it, or you will learn
a *lot* more than you would in 2 years at school. Work hard and make a
reputation for yourself as a professional, a quick learner, deadline meeter,
and easy-to-work-with person.

Brush up on (or acquire) computer platform (operating system), word
processor software, DTP, and graphics software skills. Accept any and all
training/courses the company offers you, and/or take some on your own. Join
the STC, and become active. This will not only improve your skills, but
will raise your value to the company you work for. If they do not
realize/appreciate this, you will be just that much more hireable to another

If you stick with it, (change companies as circumstances & opportunities
change) you should be making *at least* $40K within 5 years. If you're not,
you're in the wrong company or in the wrong career. Although a TW degree
*may* raise your starting salary, it will *not* affect raises to your pay
later. Only satisfactory writing and your ability to meet deadlines will.
You can always get a degree later, if you still feel you need one. By then,
certification (a cheaper & less time-intensive undertaking) may be
available, too, if some of the members of this list get their wish.


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