Instruction in technical writing can encompass communications used in technical and occupational fields, like engineering, computers, chemistry, finance, aeronautics, robotics, biotechnology and electronics. Certificate programs may be available through a variety of colleges and universities and are aimed at undergraduate or graduate students, while others are appropriate for those already employed in technical fields.
Some programs are available in an online format. High school diplomas are typically required for enrollment, and depending on the school, undergraduate and graduate certificates may be open only to students currently pursuing a degree.
Continuing Education Technical Writing Certificate
A technical writing certificate program at the postsecondary level can assist technical professionals, such as scientists or IT workers, with strengthening their written communication skills. These programs can also provide a basic foundation for technical writers, but they generally don't provide the requisite background to enter the field.
Skills that may be required for enrollment include an understanding of the English language, grammatical skills and the ability to use a computer. Technical writing certificate coursework at the postsecondary level may include courses in:
- Technical writing
- Performing research
- Online document creation
- User guide creation
- Project management
Undergraduate Technical Writing Certificate
Certain educational institutions provide students with the opportunity to enroll in technical writing certificate programs as part of 4-year degree programs. These certificate programs teach students written communication skills appropriate for business environments and technologically oriented workplaces. Generally, these programs are available to students pursuing any type of degree program.
Depending on the educational institution, students may have to complete general studies requirements or degree-related coursework prior to enrolling in technical writing certificate programs. Coursework is designed to prepare students to communicate technical knowledge to non-technical audiences and may include:
- Technical writing and editing
- Professional writing
- Scientific writing
- Web writing
- Information design
Graduate-Level Technical Writing Certificate
A technical writing certificate program at the post-baccalaureate or graduate level provides the opportunity for aspiring technical writers and working professionals to further develop their technical writing, editing and research skills. These programs are designed for individuals with advanced knowledge or considerable professional experience.
Graduate-level certificate programs in technical writing are generally open to individuals who have completed bachelor's degree programs. Schools may also accept students who have a combination of education and experience. Some institutions limit technical writing certificate enrollment to individuals already matriculated into master's degree programs. Technical writing certificate coursework at the graduate-level may include:
- Advanced technical writing and editing
- Document design techniques
- Writing for specific audiences
- Writing for publications
- Grant writing
Popular Career Options
Positions available to students who have completed technical writing certificate programs largely depend upon their chosen degree areas and may include webmaster, technical writer, technical editor, project manager and scientific writer. Common career paths for individuals who complete graduate level technical writing certificate programs tend to be based on professional experience and areas of study. Individuals with specialized technical knowledge or experience may be able to create written materials in their areas of expertise, while people with a background in liberal arts or English might work as technical writers, editors or in the publishing industry. Career options may include:
- Technical writer
- Technical editor
- Project manager
- IT professional
Employment Outlook and Salary Info
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the number of jobs in the technical writing field was anticipated to grow by 10% between 2014 and 2024 (www.bls.gov). Driving factors include scientific and technological changes, as well as growth in online publications. As of May 2015, the median salary for technical writers was $70,240 per year.
Continuing Education Information
The BLS indicates that employers generally hire technical writers who have completed bachelor's degree programs and who possess specialized, subject-matter knowledge or have experience in a relevant, technical field. Pursuing a degree program in the liberal arts or a technical area can provide greater opportunities to aspiring technical writers.
Students interested in becoming technical writers have the option to pursue master's degree programs in English, writing or related areas. These programs provide students with the opportunity to further develop research, technical writing and editing skills.
Technical writing certificate programs are available at the undergraduate and graduate degree levels, and include instruction on advanced writing, editing and research techniques. Graduating these programs can allow students more opportunities within various branches of the field.