Subject: Education
From: betsyp -at- VNET -dot- NET
Date: Wed, 11 Dec 1996 09:01:25 -0500

Bruce Covell <brucec -at- cctech -dot- com> said:

------- start of forwarded message -------

>Employers are willing to hire technical communicators without a
>degree, and they pay them well (at least around here ;-) ). My
>experience is mostly limited to high end software documentation - for
>tools that cost in the tens of thousands of dollars. Employers in
>this segment of the software industry don't seem particularly interested
>in the finer points of tech. comm.

>I guess the point of all this is that I think when employers
>understand and want the benefits that well qualified technical
>communicators can provide, they will demand them by requiring Tech.
>Comm. degrees.

I agree with Bruce's premise, but I disagree with the conclusion. A
technical communications degree is *one* way to educate a
well-qualified technical communicator. As other contributors to
this thread have commented, many excellent technical communicators
come to the field as a second career. The two best technical writers
I ever worked with were, as it happened, Harvard Ph.Ds in English.
(Their manager, Alice Landy, had a gift for hiring non-traditional
technical writers.) Both of them had the aficion; both were dedicated
to educating themselves in all the skills needed to produce good
technical writing. Both wrote clear, unpretentious English.

Even when our employers recognize the greatness, rareness, muchness of
our skills, I expect that there will, and should, be other paths into
the field than Technical Communications (TM) degrees. In my opinion,
technical writing is an art as much as a science. We recognize good
writers, we don't create them. I can take a good writer who is
willing to learn and produce a competent technical writer; I cannot
take a non-writer and do the same. A subject matter expert who can
write will always be a valuable addition to a writing team, degreed or

Betsy Perry

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