I mostly agree with this article…mostly. Yes, there are ways to learn technical writing without the internship or job experience. I still found that getting an education was the best thing. The parent in this article was working full-time and was a busy parent, and couldn’t make it to classes. Neither could I. I was working a full-time, very stressful job, parenting a high-functioning autistic child, and being the den leader for my son’s Cub Scout group. And I still found time for classes. How? There are LOTS of online courses out there from accredited schools. There are both certificates on the undergrad and graduate level, and degrees on the undergrad, graduate and even doctoral level. Online courses can actually be good if you can make the time for them. For me, I worked on my classes at night after my son went to bed, and on the weekends. Sure, it meant that my husband had to pick up some of the parenting slack (and why wouldn’t he?), but he supported my efforts to go back to school while juggling all this other stuff, because he knew it would help me get ahead. The forum conversations were just as lively as in-person conversations, if not more so, and the workload was no different. What grad school–both the certificate I earned and the Master’s degree I earned–helped me realize where the gaps were missing in my technical writing education. Yes, over the years, I had picked up some skills due to various jobs, not knowing they were technical communication skills. But getting an online education also helped me get up to speed so that I could find a good entry level position and be more confident in my skills. I agree that an e-portfolio is essential, and my studies helped me create viable samples for it. But I do feel that having a credential–even if it’s just a transcript showing that you took one tech writing course–helps to validate your experience and promote your skills. I just say this from experience.
(PS–if you are looking for some schools that offer technical communication courses, look on the ID/TC Education tab on the TechCommGeekMom blog.)
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