Every so often someone asks me if they should get a graduate degree in technical writing. Penelope Trunk has a controversial post in which she argues that graduate degrees aren't necessarily smart business decisions. Graduate schools can be an environment that removes you from the world of real experience. Penelope writes,
The biggest problem is that the degree makes you look unemployable. You look like you didn't know what to do about having to enter the adult world, so you decided to prolong childhood by continuing to earn grades rather than money even though you were not actually helping yourself to earn money. (See Voices of the defenders of grad school. And me crushing them.)
I know that my MFA was a way to postpone a tough economic reality for an English major with little options. It's a good idea to get real world experience in a career path before investing money for a graduate degree from traditional or online universities.
On the other hand, once you leave the college track, it's hard to return to it. I sometimes wish I had a masters or PhD in tech comm, but it would be too difficult to return to school right now, and in all honesty, I don't know what the benefit would be.
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I'm a technical writer based in the California San Francisco Bay area. Topics I write about on this blog include technical writing, authoring and publishing tools, API documentation, tech comm trends, visual communication, technical writing career advice, information architecture and findability, developer documentation, and more. If you're a professional or aspiring technical writer, be sure to subscribe to email updates using the form above. You can learn more about me here.