Many students who take online technical writing courses or complete an online technical writing certificate program already work in the business or technical world and are looking to expand their options; indeed, some certificate programs limit enrollment to students with work experience in the field. However, there are also some courses and programs appropriate for those wishing to enter the field. For instance, it is possible to earn an online bachelor's degree in the field.
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Technical Writing Bachelor's Degree or Certificate
Courses and programs are offered through several universities, often through extension departments. Many online technical writing programs culminate in a bachelor's degree or certificate. Some schools allow online students to complete courses on their own time, while others mandate that participants complete a course by the end of the semester.
Certificate in Technical Writing
Most certificate programs consist of fewer than ten classes, all of which can be taken within the certificate program or independently. Certificate in technical writing programs can often be found at university extension departments. Such programs are designed for those already working in the field as well as those who would like to try their hand at technical writing. Certificates can generally be completed in around 9-12 months. Students take about five courses, in topics such as project management, creating manuals and user guides, technical writing for online documentation and documenting policies and procedures.
Bachelor's Degree in Technical Writing
Students can also earn an online bachelor's degree in technical writing. Courses in these longer programs typically include business writing, grammar, editing and proofreading techniques and core liberal arts courses.
Writing for the Web
This course teaches the theories behind how people use and read online documents. Skills learned include critiquing technical writing for the web.
Technical Writing and Editing
Students in this distance-learning class learn the skills necessary for writing and editing technical documents, both for print and online documentation. The course includes an overview of writing styles, standards, style guides, technical writing mechanics and effective editing skills.
Technical Concepts and Tools
Database interface, network protocol, programming languages and program logic constraints are taught in this technical writing course. Students gain experience in desktop publishing applications, as well as graphic user interface tools.
This course covers the use of software platforms like Adobe Acrobat and Microsoft Word to edit errors in syntax, grammar, punctuation, spelling and usage in technical documents. Students learn to communicate with authors and other editors, write queries and create style sheets.
Information Design for Technical Communicators
Students learn how to analyze the needs of the audience and to create clear writing with appropriately spaced special cues, legibility of typography, words and pictures in electronic and printed material. The emphasis is on presenting easy-to-understand information that readers can respond to emotionally and aesthetically.
Principals of Usability
Students learn concepts, goals and terminology of user-centered design through this online technical writing course. Skills obtained include decision-making based on a user's goal, environment and task.
Technical writers are often employed by engineering companies, software companies, universities and government agencies.
Students who want to enhance their technical writing skills and increase their familiarity with related technologies can take classes or earn a certificate in the field. Inexperienced students who want to pursue a career in the field may also earn a bachelor's degree, which provides an introduction to technical writing alongside general education courses.