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Should You Get a Graduate Degree in Technical Writing?

by Tom Johnson on Sep 19, 2011 •
categories: beginners technical-writing

Penelope TrunkEvery 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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About Tom Johnson

Tom Johnson

I'm a technical writer / API doc specialist based in the Seattle area. In this blog, I write about topics related to technical writing and communication — such as software documentation, API documentation, visual communication, information architecture, writing techniques, plain language, tech comm careers, and more. Check out simplifying complexity and API documentation for some deep dives into these topics. If you're a technical writer and want to keep on top of the latest trends in the field, be sure to subscribe to email updates. You can also learn more about me or contact me.