Do You Need a Techcomm Degree or Certification to Transition into Techcomm?

Every so often, I encounter someone thinking about transitioning into techcomm, and I always get the same question: “Do I need a degree (advanced or otherwise) in Techcomm to be a technical communicator.” Here is the response I gave someone recently thinking of transition from Marketing/PR to Techcomm.

Technical writing has been a fantastic career for me, so I highly recommend the career. Unfortunately, I personally would not recommend an advance degree in Technical Communication (unless you plan to teach). It’s my experience that employers value techcomm project experience above and beyond a techcomm degree. The advice I give to anyone interested in transitioning into techcomm is to get experience anyway you can. The more experience and work samples you have in your portfolio, the better off you’ll be. Let’s take a step back here; I’m giving you this advice because I’m assuming you have a strong understanding of the skill set required to be a technical writer. If you don’t have a strong understanding, then of course, educate yourself before attempting the transition. For another opinion on this topic, read “Should You Get a Graduate Degree in Technical Writing” by Tom Johnson. In addition, you might be interested in the Online Certification Courses offered by STC.

What advice have you given when asked this same question?