Free Technical Writing Course
While there are many schools that offer free writing courses online, there is at least one institution that has free technical writing courses available online. While there are other websites that offer technical writer training, here we focus on the technical writing courses that are available from a 4-year institution.
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) offers several different technical writer classes through the Open Course Ware website. This site allows students to browse the teaching materials used for a wide range of MIT course subjects, including communications. Through this site, students can examine the syllabus, assignments, and other course materials for an online technical writing course with titles like:
- Intro to Tech Communication
- Communicating in Technical Organizations
- Explorations in Scientific and Technical Writing
- Science Writing for the Public
- Communicating with Data
These courses can help students learn and practice the necessary skills needed to produce pieces of technical writing that could pertain to many different subjects. For example, the Intro to Tech Communication course helps students learn how to write:
- Grant proposals
- Literature reviews
- Conference papers
Technical Writing Workshops
Although they are not usually free, there are a variety of online workshops and seminars available in the field of technical writing. Some of these options are available through websites for writers, while others may be offered through different business-related organizations. Prices for these workshops and seminars vary greatly.
Often these workshops are designed for professional writers, engineers, computer/IT professionals, and scientists wishing to further develop their technical writing abilities. Like an online technical writing course, these programs may cover topics like:
- Writing reports, emails, instruction manuals, etc.
- Creating presentations
- Developing media releases
- Writing clearly and concisely
- Organizing ideas
Online Technical Writing Degree
Students wishing to take their education in technical writing to the next level, may decide to pursue a technical writing degree. These degree programs are available at the associate's, bachelor's, and master's levels, as well as certificate programs. Some of these degree programs are available online and may go by names like Technical Communication or Professional Technical Writing.
Technical Writer Career Overview
|Degree Required||Bachelor's degree|
|Other Requirements||Work experience, training|
|Annual Mean Salary (2018)*||$75,500|
|Estimated Job Growth (2016-2026)*||11%|
Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS)
Technical writers usually work full-time and may need to work extended hours or outside of normal business hours to meet a deadline. These writers typically need a bachelor's degree, and some technical writers may need some work experience (less than 5 years, according to the BLS) before they work on projects independently. The occupation is expected to have faster-than-average job growth from 2016 to 2026, per the BLS.
The BLS also reported that the average annual salary for technical writers was $75,500, as of 2018. Most of these writers worked in computer systems design and related services and made an average salary of $78,630, said the BLS. The highest average salary of $104,740 was made in 2018 by technical writers in the computer and peripheral equipment manufacturing industry.