Technical Writing Courses and Schools
You can study technical writing through certificate, associate's degree and bachelor's degree programs. Courses in this field include report writing, instructional materials and documentation. Continue reading to learn more about what you can learn in a technical writing program.
What You Need to Know
Many schools offer programs and courses in technical writing, and degrees are available at the associate's and bachelor's degree levels. Courses focus on web writing and creating documents and instructional materials. Work experience is important in this field, and internships are an important aspect of these programs.
|Degree Options||Associate's, Bachelor's degree, certificates|
|Courses||Web writing, project management and documentation, relevant software and technologies, drafting proposals and reports, instructional materials design|
|Online||Online technical writing programs are available|
What Courses Will I Take in a Certificate Program?
Technical writing programs are most abundantly found at the certificate, associate's and bachelor's degree levels. In a certificate program, you'll study topics such as Web writing, project management and documentation. You could possibly take electives to learn how to use relevant software and technologies, including Adobe Photoshop, Adobe Acrobat, Dreamweaver and HTML.
What Courses Will I Take in an Associate's/Bachelor's Program?
By earning an associate's or bachelor's degree, you'll learn how to draft proposals and reports, design instructional materials and create documents for use on the Web, among other tasks. You'll also complete an internship. You can use the writings you compose during your internship as samples for your professional portfolio. Here are some of the topics you might study in a bachelor's degree program:
- Linguistic theory
- Topics in professional writing
- Writing for the electronic media
- Organizational communication
- Graphic communications
- Web publishing
- Computer literacy and software applications
- Advanced composition
Can I Earn a Certificate or Degree Online?
Course content for online certificate and bachelor's degree programs will generally be the same as their campus-based equivalents. Online technical writing programs offer flexibility, allowing you to work at your own pace. But some courses are taught live, so you'll need to attend class at a designated meeting time. Additionally, some courses are hybrid, meaning you'll be taking part of the course in the classroom and part of it online.
You'll need a computer with Internet access. Because some programs may use interactive components, it's possible you'll need a high-speed Internet connection. To participate in the live courses, you'll need speakers, headphones, a microphone or some other means of listening to and conversing with others in the class. Lastly, you'll need an active e-mail account to stay in touch with your professors and to stay abreast of any course changes made throughout the semester.
What Should I Look for in a School?
The first thing you need to consider is whether the program is arts-based or science-based. Some arts-based programs, offering a Bachelor of Arts, for example, may have a foreign language requirement, which can come in handy for positions needing a second language. Some programs emphasize theory rather than practice and vice versa. It may be in your best interest to find a program that emphasizes utilizing practical skills since some technical writing jobs require prior experience.
Also, look for schools that let you tailor the program to your interests. For example, some bachelor's degree programs in technical writing allow you to select a concentration in a number of areas, including medical or scientific communication. These schools offer technical writing courses:
- Carnegie Mellon University (Pittsburgh, PA)
- Indiana University (Online)
- Eastern Kentucky University (Richmond)
- Bellevue College (WA)
- The University of Arizona (Tuscon)
What If I Already Have a Degree in Another Field?
You can still become a technical writer, provided you've received the proper training. Since excellent writing and communication skills are pertinent to this field, employers often look for applicants with bachelor's degrees in subjects that help grow these skills, including English, journalism or communication. Some technical writers work in electronic publishing, so any Web and graphic design courses you may have taken will be helpful as well. Experience with computer software, in general, will also be beneficial. Additionally, some employers require you to have knowledge of a technical subject, so if you've got a degree in a technical field, such as computer science or engineering, this will improve your chances of gaining employment as a technical writer.