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Online Education (bachelor's Degree In Technical-writing)

By Expert Author: John Srob

If you want to be a technical writer, bachelor's degree programs in technical writing and technical communication are available online. These programs can usually be finished in 3-4 years. In addition to writing classes, you can expect to take general education and computer science courses. Classes can teach you how to take technical or scientific language and present it in terms that everyday consumers can understand. The following are examples of subjects that you might find in the curriculum:

Computer programming
Statistical reasoning
Professional writing practices
Medical writing
Web content development
Biotechnical writing
Visual basic programming
Proposal writing

How Will I Learn Online?

During an online program, you'll typically complete readings and assignments on your own and come together online with your classmates for projects or discussions. You can communicate with students and instructors through e-mail or computer learning tools like Blackboard. Tests can usually be taken online under a timed period. To complete your online classes, you typically need specific Web plug-ins, an antivirus program, sound cards and speakers.

What Will My Job Duties Be?

A technical writer, sometimes called a technical communicator, usually works in technology-related industries, such as engineering, scientific research or healthcare. As a technical writer, it would be your responsibility to translate complex technical concepts into understandable language. For example, a technical writer might compose instruction manuals, assembly directions or troubleshooting guides. You might also write the supporting documents that accompany computer software.

Technical writing is often a collaborative endeavor; you may be responsible for communicating with engineers, scientists, doctors or software developers to gather information on technical products and verify the content that you write. You might be required to use specific publishing, design or multimedia computer programs. In addition to being employed by individual companies, you could work as a freelance writer or for a consulting firm. Your daily job duties might include the following:

Setting page layouts
Learning about technical equipment
Interviewing technical experts
Conducting research
Illustrating technical components
Interviewing product users

Bachelor of Science programs in technical writing may also be available under the heading technical communication or technical writing and communication. A Bachelor of Science (B.S.) in Technical Writing program provides students with the communication, technology and design skills necessary to enter into scientific and technical communication fields. Some programs are available in both online and on-campus formats.

Within the technical writing program, students learn to retrieve and evaluate information, respond to audiences, create strategies for revisions and editing, work with current technologies and format documents. In addition to classroom instruction, students may gain experience through internships. Applicants typically must hold a high school diploma or GED to enroll into the technical writing program. Some programs may require students to complete prerequisite courses in computer science and mathematics prior to entrance into the major.

Course Topics

In addition to general education requirements, students complete core courses in English, information literacy, diversity and business ethics. Common course titles found within the technical communication program include:

Document design
Technical writing and editing
Technology and information
Online documentation
Graphic communication
Technical writing software
Website design

Popular Career Options

Graduates have the theoretical knowledge and practical skills to design and implement websites, produce printed and multimedia material, and write user manuals. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor and Statistics, some graduates may not begin their careers as writers, but rather as technical researchers. Technical writers can find career opportunities in most industries, including technology, publishing, science, management and engineering. Additional job titles available include:

Information developer
Documentation designer
Engineering writer

Continuing Education Information

Students can either seek entry-level employment or pursue further education through the completion of a master's degree program in technical communication. Students may be able to find a master's degree program specifically in technical communication, or it may be offered as a concentration within a graduate English program. In addition to coursework, these programs typically include an internship, thesis or research paper.

You May Qualify For Financial Aid.

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