I am a marketing communications writer and editor--have been for eight years--and am considering making a transition into technical writing. The demand in my area for tech writers seems to be greater than marketers at the moment, and I am not working right now. (I'm in the Raleigh-Durham, NC area--the land of tech and pharmaceutical companies--and recently relocated from Atlanta, if that makes any difference.) That being said, I am considering getting a continuing education certificate in technical writing. I took some tech writing classes in college, but that was in the early 90s, and these skills are not highlighted anywhere on my resume.
I am trying to decide if it's more important to have a general background in tech writing (as most of the online certificates seem to skew towards) or if I need to physically learn about authoring tools (Framemaker, RoboHelp, XML, etc.). Which area would you folks recommend I concentrate on? I'm sort of shying away from a full-blown degreed course at this time...the last time I was out of work, I got a continuing education certification in Web Marketing, and it seems to have worked out well for me--until now. I'm planning to stay in this area of the country for awhile, so it seems like this is as good a time as any to expand my skillset.
Any opinions on this subject would be much appreciated! I want to be sure that I'm making as informed a decision as possible, so I thought asking the people who do this for a living would be a good start.
Thanks in advance!