Business and technical writers are generally required to have a bachelor's degree in journalism, English, communications or computer science. Some online journalism programs are available. Technical writers who work in specific industries, such as manufacturing or biomedical engineering, can also have bachelor's degrees in engineering, medical technology or other relevant subjects.
Business writers may have supplemental business degrees. There are no required certifications or licensure for business and technical writers, though voluntary certification from the Society for Technical Communication (STC) can prove proficiency in technical writing.
Bachelor of Arts in Journalism
A bachelor's degree in journalism prepares aspiring technical and business writers to conduct research, organize information, create and edit documents and present material clearly and concisely. Journalism programs provide a number of courses on writing, editing, research, interviewing and multimedia collaboration, essential components of business and technical writing. Programs usually require four years of study and may include courses such as:
- Reporting and research techniques
- Visual communications
- Interviewing skills
- Feature news writing
- News analysis
- Graphic design and layout
Employment Outlook and Salary Information
According to the BLS, technical writers as of May 2015 made a mean annual salary of $73,350. The BLS also states that, from 2014 to 2024, the employment for technical writers is expected to grow 10%.
Business and technical writers do not require any type of licensure or certification. To boost career opportunities, however, technical writers can join the Society for Technical Communication (STC) and enroll in online courses that award technical writing certificates. These certificates display proficiency in technical communication, writing, document design and layout, interviewing skills and other writing procedures. STC occasionally works with the Association for Business Communication (ABC) to co-sponsor programs that may be of interest to both technical and business writers.
The STC is the largest organization for technical writers; business writers may also benefit from its resources. Each year the STC holds conferences for writers, producers and information technology specialists who use technical communication in their profession. The conferences include individual training sessions for technical communicators, as well as guest speakers, networking opportunities and award banquets.
Community and vocational colleges that offer technical and business writing programs may offer workshops and seminars. These workshops discuss technical writing duties, skills and job-finding information. While most technical writing workshops are offered in person, some colleges may also offer online workshops.
Students pursuing business and/or technical writing can find relevant training within undergraduate journalism programs, which cover related topics in research and information organization. Specific training in technical and business writing can be found through supplementary workshops.