Is a Degree In Technical Writing Worth The Effort?

Do you have a degree in technical writing or technical communications? Was it worth the money? If you had a second chance, would you have chosen this or opted for another career path?

One of my younger cousins has started her degree in university in Limerick, Ireland. Not the place most of us think of as the heart of technical writing. But, for Microsoft, Google and IBM this university has provides a conveyor belt, producing freshly minted technical writers every four years. It’s one of the few universities in Europe with a specialist degree in Technical Communications.

Students taking a degree in technical writing / tech comms now read about layouts in the IT industry most every week. Actually, you don’t notice it any more.

The recession has become background noise.

Once they graduate, they’ll have to:

  • Leave for the US to find work – is this smart?
  • Up-skill and go for a Masters — makes sense but expensive and no guarantee of employment
  • Move sideways into another field — possible but defeats the purpose of taking the degree in the first place
  • Move to India or Asia — setup a technical writing firm there and/or work as a liaison between the US and Asian offices.
  • Dropout?

This is what’s happening now. Why study for 4 years when there is no end goal?

I think this is a mistake, but it’s easy for me to say. Their careers are already at a premature crossroads.

Next week, I’m back in Ireland.

What advice would you suggest I give these students?

Stay the course or find something else?