TW and education (was Re: Houston Area Jobs)

Subject: TW and education (was Re: Houston Area Jobs)
From: Jane Bergen <janeb -at- AIRMAIL -dot- NET>
Date: Mon, 9 Dec 1996 21:44:53 +600

On 9 Dec 96 at 15:42, Robin McCloud wrote:

> Dave Locke said:

> Look somebody GAVE you your first TW job. The day is coming real
> soon where you won't be able to get a job without a TW degree. And,
> guess what you would be out of luck.

> This is a very microscopic view of our profession, IMHO.
> I got my first job as a technical writer in aerospace directly
> because of what I was doing as in public relations at the
> psychiatric hospital for which I worked; it had nothing to do with
> my degree.

With all due respect to Robin and the countless others that Dave
Locke seems to have set off.... I think this was the whole POINT of
his message: that many of today's tech writers were GIVEN their
jobs, but tomorrow (not now, not ten years ago...) degrees will be
required. The industry is moving in that direction, like it or not.

Michael Wing talked about writers he'd worked with "five years ago"
or more; Mitch Berg talked about his first career, which started
when he was 16; Walt Tucker said he's worked as a tech writer for 17
years. Fine. None of these experiences have any relevance to the
requirements for new writers of tomorrow!

There are many reasons for the emphasis on degrees. For one thing,
more schools now offer courses in tech writing, if not actual
degrees or certificate programs. It's very easy now for people to
take a course at a community college or local university. It doesn't
have to mean a full-blown degree program, but the willingness to
learn new information and to make some sacrifices in getting there
(for example, night school) makes a big difference to a lot of

And it's not just the profession of technical communication that this
is true. Not too many companies that I've heard of are hiring high
school grads for accounting positions, no matter how good their
"bookkeeping" grades were in high school.

In the final analysis, I suppose it depends on whether you consider
technical communication a profession or just a job that only
requires the ability to form a coherent sentence ( a view that many
employers have taken in the past).

Jane Bergen
janeb -at- airmail -dot- net


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