Top Online Technical Writing Schools
Technical writers re-write technical jargon for readability by consumers or other professionals outside their specific technical field. Sometimes this information is provided in the form of a manual or technical report, other times this is can be an internal document used as a reference for other professionals. In the digital age, technical writers tend to create a website’s “frequently asked questions” page. They can be employed to write user manuals for software programs, vehicles and even the assembly pages for Swedish-brand furniture.
While some technical writing programs award an associate degree in technical writing, some schools offer technical writing as a concentration as part of an engineering or communications degree. Because the role of a technical writer in its basic form is to disseminate technical information, technical writers need to have an understanding of what they are going to be writing about or, if they do not, to work closely with experienced professionals in the field.
While there are a number of schools which provide an associate or certificate in technical writing, and there are rankings for top journalism schools and top multimedia and video communication schools (the BLS (BLS.gov, 2012) reports that bachelor’s degrees in both fields are well received by the industry), as a technical writer is responsible for “translating” highly technical language into something readable, an education in technical fields can be beneficial to an aspiring technical writer.
The following 10 schools provide what U.S. News & World Report call the best online programs for both information technology and engineering based on student engagement and program accreditation.
1. Southern Polytechnic State University
2. Colorado State University
3. Mississippi State University
4. Virginia Tech
5. Columbia University
1. University of Wisconsin, Madison
2. Lawrence Technological University
3. Pennsylvania State University
4. Texas A&M University
5. Polytechnic Institute of New York University
Below is more about the technical writing focus available from online schools and colleges on SchoolsGalore.com
According to O*Net Online, 57 percent of surveyed technical writers responded that they felt the minimum education requirement for entry in the profession was an associate degree or some college education, 33 percent thought a bachelor’s degree is required for the job.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS.gov, 2012), some technical writers may start off as traditional professionals in a technical field, such as a computer programmer, a medical equipment repairer or an aeronautic drafter, before moving into writing. For these professionals, the BLS notes that some have earned an additional degree or certificate in journalism or communications and that for students without a previous degree in a technical field, prior work experience may be beneficial to finding employment or for success as a technical writer.
Certification, as well as online technical writing courses, is available from the Society for Technical Communication for technical writers with professional experience. According to the STC, certification shows the holder has experience in information design, process management, production, development and analysis.
In addition to the ability to convert technical jargon into the layman’s language, technical writers may also be required to select photos or images that will be use in technical documents or on websites. The BLS (BLS.gov, 2012) has observed that as manuals and technical documents move online, technical writers may be required to integrate multi-dimensional images and multimedia features into their final product.
The BLS (BLS.gov, 2012) expects the employment of technical writers to increase by up to 17 percent from 2010 to the end of 2020. This expansion is fueled by the continued use of scientific and technical products and by web-based product support. Additionally, technical writers in the fields of software publishing and scientific research and development were paid a national median salary of $77,670 and $67,880 per year respectively in May of 2011 (BLS.gov, 2012). The national median salary for all technical writers was $64,610 per year (BLS.gov, 2012) during the same period.
Learn more about accredited technical writing programs from online schools and colleges on SchoolsGalore.com
When researching online colleges and universities, make sure to verify that your choice of school is accredited by the Distance Education and Training Council or by another accrediting agency that approved by The U.S. Department of Education or The Council for Higher Education Accreditation, or both. DETC and CHEA both provide a searchable list of approved schools.
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