Generally, technical writers are not authorities on the subjects they write about, but they gather information from preexisting material and subject-matter experts. These associate's programs are usually found at public community colleges and can be completed in about two years with full-time study. Coursework is often totally online, although some programs may have some on-site learning experiences, such as internships and capstone courses. Students learn to work with websites, compile frequently asked questions (FAQs), provide online help and prepare materials using software applications.
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Associate's Degree in Technical Writing
Prospective technical writers may pursue an online associate's degree program in technical communications and learn how to prepare explanatory documents for technical and nontechnical audiences. Through the technical and business writing courses found in an online associate's program, students become familiar with word processing applications, such as Microsoft Word. Graphics courses use popular software applications such as Adobe Photoshop. Courses in HTML, XHTML and CSS further prepare students for work in an online environment. Participants also receive online assistance and tools that teach them how to edit government and business information.
Major coursework includes the preparation of printed documents, as well as other types of media. Some online associate's programs in technical writing or communications require that students complete internships at an approved business setting. Students may also be required to take a capstone course that offers opportunities to attend meetings held by field-relevant professional organizations or perhaps shadow an experienced technical writer in the workplace.
As in campus-based programs, students in an associate's program must complete general education courses such as English, math and science as part of the degree requirements. Course topics may include:
- Digital photography
- Web graphics
How Online Learning Works
From the privacy of their homes, distance learners can access coursework - including lectures, assignments and assessments - from their schools' online classroom environment. Instructors may make various learning aids, such as videos or visual aids, available as well. Classmates and their teachers communicate using discussion boards, video conferencing, E-mail and/or chat rooms.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts that technical writers will see a 10% growth in job opportunities in the 2014-2024 decade (www.bls.gov). Candidates completing an associate's degree in technical writing often graduate with a portfolio that they can use to pursue professional work. Employment opportunities for graduates of an associate's program in technical writing include:
- Technical writer
- Copy writer
- Assistant editor
An online associate's degree program in technical writing prepares students with the necessary English, photography and graphic design courses to work as technical writers, editors or coordinators.