The purpose of a technical writing degree is to prepare students to be able to develop and explain technical details in a way that users of a product are able to read and understand. Technical writing is a field of study that examines methodologies, procedures and ways of preparing, structuring, and managing information, data, and documents that is used in the production of technical documentation. The role of technical writers is to develop instructions and guides that are easy for users to understand and follow. Several accredited colleges and universities offer degrees in technical writing and technical communication, as well as professional communication. A degree in technical communication helps students develop skills in print, video, and online media where they work as a technical writer or editor. Their job is to interpret data, statistics, and other information, which is then, translated it into written material that is easily understood easily by non-technical and technical and non-technical users.
Technical Writing Training and Education
To complete the online technical writing degree requirements, you may be required to take technical writing courses in graphics, editing, English grammar, technical manual development, communications techniques.
Other technical writing courses may include composition and essay writing, grant writing, blogging, desktop publishing, and podcasting, journalism, and graphic design. To succeed in this field, it is important to be up to date with the latest publishing and desktop technologies, have excellent research skills, and ensure that you practice writing on a regular basis.
A certificate in technical writing is an option for students who already have a bachelor’s degree in a related area and would like to enter the technical writing field. Other technical writing courses may include:
- Academic Writing
- Academic Research
- Technical Editing
- Print Production
- User Interface Lay-out
- Web Site Design
- Web Site Publishing
- Content Management
- Scientific and Technical Communication
- Scientific and Technical Writing
In addition your college may require you to take additional courses if you would like to specialize in a certain area. This also depends on whether you are going for a bachelor’s degree in technical communication or certificate in technical writing.
Technical Writer Careers
Graduates with technical writing degrees often work on preparing guides, booklets and manuals that are found with products such as automobiles, appliance, electronics etc. Many technical writers work in fields such as technology, computers, automotive, medicine, science, business and other technical and scientific fields. With an online technical writing degree, responsibilities include:
- Integrating text with graphics, video, and audio
- Planning, writing, and editing scientific, technical and medical reports
- Developing and writing equipment manuals and operations manuals
- Coordinating development of graphics, illustrations, diagrams, and charts and other visuals for integration with text
- Researching and organizing information for advertising, marketing, and public relations
The industries employing the largest number of technical writers in 2008 were: Software publishers, computer systems design and related services, management, scientific, and technical consulting services, employment services, and architectural, engineering, and related services
Estimated Income and Projected Career Growth
Technical communication careers are available in various industries for example medicine, law, science, technology, education. With online technical writing degree there are also various career options with software publishers and internet service providers.
The United States Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that the employment of technical writers is expected to increase by 18%, between 2008 and 2018, which is faster than many other occupations. This demand is projected to increase due to the continuing expansion of scientific and technical information.
The median annual income for technical writers in 2008 was $61,620 in May 2008. The middle 50% earned between $47,100 and $78,910 while the lowest 10% earned below $36,500. The highest 10% earned more than $97,460 (BLS).
The growth of customer service and online product support services and networks, and the growth in the areas of technology, business, law, and health and medical has contributed to this increase. This is due to the increasing demand for writers who specialize in the fields of medicine, law, electronics, and business, and subsequently the growth in the demand for graduates with a technical writing degree.
Technical Writing and Communications Programs
- Creative Writing, Master of Fine Arts (Online)
- Creative Writing for Entertainment, Bachelor of Fine Arts