Learning to Code: Not A Guarantee

This is a great article because it supports, I think, a big argument why technical communicators are needed and what their training should be. I’m an advanced beginner to intermediate level user of HTML. I understand how to tweak JavaScript, CSS, HTML5, and XML, but I can’t program those languages from scratch. I used to know a little SQL, too. I often find that employers are looking for developers/programmers that can write. They are out there, but very few. And I often find that many of these job postings out there claim that the tech writer/content strategist/tech communicator needs to have various complicated programming languages under their belt when they really don’t. Having a little bit of foundational coding helps in understanding, but as the author points out, you don’t need to be a programmer to do jobs that are important for a tech project. I think part of the solution is for employers to have realistic expectations, and consider candidates who have the main skills needed and the potential to learn how to maneuver around code. I had a similar discussion about this with my husband when a recent Mashable article about the 15 programming languages you (supposedly) should know for 2015 was up. He looked at the list, and probable knew 10 of the 15, but that was knowledge acquired over 25+ years. Some of the other 5 languages were ones he said he wouldn’t touch with a ten foot pole. I’ve often said to him, “Maybe I need to learn ___ language,” and his reply is often, “Why? You can write, and can manage content, understand UX, and other stuff like that. Why would you want to learn coding?” “Because all these employers are asking for it.” “Nah, don’t bother. The odds of you actually using it are next to none.” And he’s usually right. What do you think? Include your comments below. –TechCommGeekMom

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About TechCommGeekMom

Danielle M. Villegas is a technical communicator who has recently started her own technical communications consultancy, Dair Communications. She has worked at the International Refugee Committee, MetLife, Novo Nordisk, and BASF North America, with a background in content strategy, web content management, social media, project management, e-learning, and client services. Danielle is best known in the technical communications world for her blog, TechCommGeekMom.com, which has continued to flourish since it was launched during her graduate studies at NJIT in 2012. She has presented webinars and seminars for Adobe, the Society for Technical Communication (STC), the IEEE ProComm, and at Drexel University’s eLearning Conference. She has written articles for the STC Intercom, STC Notebook, the Content Rules blog, and The Content Wrangler as well. You can learn more about Danielle on LinkedIn at www.linkedin.com/in/daniellemvillegas, on Twitter @techcommgeekmom, or through her blog.
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