Unlike other fields of professional writing, technical writing requires professionals to have some level of credentials and/or a relevant background. If you’re considering this as a career path, and have to choose a major in college, a technical writer degree might just be perfect for you.
However, unlike other career paths, there are a ton of degrees and stand-alone certification programs to choose from.
In this article, we’ll review some of the top-rated technical writer degree programs and discuss the various factors you should consider before enrolling yourself in one.
Let’s dive right in.
The Role of a Technical Writer in an Organization
Technical writers (commonly known as technical communicators) break down complex information into clear and concise instruction manuals, journal articles, user manuals, and other content that facilitates project stakeholders and end-users.
They’re the subject matter experts with skills in various specialized spheres, including medicine, computer science, engineering, and other technical fields.
A technical writer enhances companies' technical communication and helps them attain clarity, accuracy, and consistency in their technical documentation.
How to Become a Technical Writer?
Anyone can become a writer with some practice and a formal education in subjects like creative writing, technical writing, English literature, etc.
In addition to a professional writing degree, you have to develop technical skills in niche-specific fields to craft content around them.
The journey of a technical writer doesn’t end here.
You have to keep sharpening your writing skills by learning new techniques and industry standards for writing. Furthermore, you have to attend technical courses to grasp the concepts and science of the subject areas you wish to write about.
Lastly, you have to become a part of professional writers’ networks and communities to learn from industry experts.
Best Technical Writer Degrees in 2020
Various universities and online schools offer technical writer degree programs throughout the year or during specific time periods.
Each program comes with its own specifications, like program duration, fee structure, pace, study type, etc. You can select the degree program that intersects with your interests, budget plan, and convenience.
Below, we’ve listed down and explained some essential technical writer degree courses and their usability in one’s professional career:
Master of Arts in Technical Communication
Sam Houston State University (United States) offers a two-year master's degree program that promises to shape its students into information architects and designers capable of synthesizing authoritative content.
The students will learn to apply theories and strategies to their coursework, which will help them develop the skills of creative thinkers and strategic writers. You can choose the pace that suits you and attend this degree both as a full-time student or a part-time student.
By the end of this course, you’ll learn how to:
- Use various content creation techniques to build documentation, videos, blogs, etc.
- Craft content that translates technical information to a non-technical audience.
- Create aesthetically pleasing content that’s both comprehendible and grabs the audience’s attention.
- Manage large-scale communication projects in various technical fields, including medical writing, software design/documentation, web authoring, and more.
- Present complex information across multimedia channels – from social media platforms to intensive knowledge-based articles.
- Create web designs with excellent UX and visual components.
- Plan outreach techniques for content marketing and distribution.
All in all, this degree is helpful for everyone – from an entry-level technical writer to a professional writer. Not only will you learn how to create content, but also to present it according to an audience’s needs.
This course is available for online students, as well as for those who want to attend it in-person. However, it provides a $1,000 grant to candidates who opt to attend the degree as 100% online students.
Additionally, all students will get round-the-clock support – making it easier for you to attend it remotely and get help from trainers and instructors any time you want.
About this Degree
Sam Houston State University ensures a degree that helps the students achieve high-paying technical writing jobs.
By the end of this course, you’ll earn:
- A degree by accumulating course credit hours.
- Equal credit for everyone – be it achieved through online courses, in-person courses, or transferred credit (i.e., from another institution).
- Same degree for all students regardless of the means (online or in-person) they chose to attend the course.
- A degree fully accredited by The Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.
Learn everything about this course by visiting this link.
Keep in mind, the last date to apply for this program is 1st December 2020, so start preparing your admission application if you’re interested in this program.
Master of Arts in Science Writing
This online technical writer degree program offered by John Hopkins State University enables science writers and editors to navigate the diverse fields of medicine, technology, journalism, scientific communication fields, and more.
The program will help its students become experts at the following areas:
- Students will get a hold of digital media technologies and will be able to create content for diverse media.
- Excellent communication skills to keep the content’s tone natural, enticing, and impactful.
- The students will get a chance to practically observe science, its different stages, and conclude its outcome.
This degree promises to hone the student's writing and cognitive skills and create adults who can not only write but achieve the perspicacity of science.
About this Degree
What’s great about this program is that it's a complete package for a writer – be it a professional writer with no background in science or a beginner level writer with a technical bachelor's degree.
Students must complete all academic work within five years to get a writing certificate from the university.
Learn more about this program at the given link.
If you’re interested in this program, prepare your application and apply six weeks before the semester (international students must apply three months before the semester starts).
Master of Arts in Writing
John Hopkins University also offers a workshop-centered, 3-year master’s program for writers, essentially looking to develop a deep understanding writing as a profession.
As a graduate of this program, you’ll achieve the following skills:
- Develop the skills to apply fiction and nonfiction professional techniques in your work effectively.
- Evaluate your work and compare it to industry standards or your peers’ work.
- The ability to adapt to the evolving writing techniques.
Most importantly, each writing assignment you complete for this course will be evaluated by your instructors and modified into publishable work with literary merit. As soon as you graduate, you'll have a strong portfolio in your hand, which will help you explore job opportunities with confidence.
About this Course
The complete course entails:
- Contemporary American Writers
- Thesis and publications
- Several writing electives and three workshop courses in fiction, nonfiction, memoir, and experimental fiction.
This course will shape you into a candid writer who can efficiently write for law firms, journalism books, websites, etc.
As the name suggests, this course doesn’t fulfill the necessities of a technical degree program. However, the attendees and graduates of this program will learn to create exceptionally well content.
We would advise you to choose this course if you tick the following boxes:
- You have a bachelor’s degree in the required technical area.
- You’re willing to complete the technical courses side-by-side or before applying for the technical writer job.
- Your employers ensure to provide technical job training programs necessary for you to specialize in that area.
Learn about the complete course breakdown and description at the provided link.
Technical Report Writing for Engineers
This six-week-long course offered by The University of Sheffield trains engineers to communicate their ideas through well-written technical reports.
In this course, you'll cover referencing and citation areas, presenting equations, diagrams and data, and the correct way to apply technical jargon in your reports.
This course will help you learn all the necessary elements that help compile a technical report, use a technical report to communicate information, and evaluate what a good report looks like.
Visit this link for a complete program description and fee details.
Technical Writing: Online Certificate Programs and Classes
The University of Wisconsin offers several programs and courses in technical writing, technical documentation, technical business writing, and more.
Each program is categorized according to its difficulty level and subject area. Furthermore, these courses are designed by niche-specific technical instructors with over 20 years of professional, technical, and career training experience.
These technical writer degree programs enable technical writers to sharpen their skills flexibly – by choosing the timeline that suits them.
Visit the website to look through the complete list of technical writer degrees offered by the University of Wisconsin.
Technical Writing Courses by Udemy
Udemy is among the top leading online academies/e-learning platforms, offering a wide range of programs, certifications, and training courses in various technical and non-technical fields.
The technical writing courses offered by Udemy include education programs in business writing, Communications, IT, and Software.
Udemy categorizes beginner and advanced level courses to help build a firm foundation and enhance the student’s technical writing skills.
Technical experts and instructors brainstorm together to design these courses and cover every aspect of the subject area.
You can also choose from a vast list of course recommendation Udemy customizes for you according to your requirement.
Udemy displays star ratings with every course so that you can invest in the course rated by the general audience. If you’re still not sure, all courses have a 30-day money-back guarantee that you can claim during the first month of the course subscription.
View the complete list here.
Society for Technical Communication (STC)
STC is the world’s largest association that provides specialized training and associate degree programs in various technical fields. It offers The Certified Professional Technical Communicator program and a wide array of educational events throughout the year to promote technical communication, managerial techniques, and tool skills among the technical writers.
American Medical Writers Association (AMWA)
AMWA is an association for professional medical communicators that create and present information for the medical community.
They also provide many onsite training programs, webinars, and certifications to help young writers create education and informative material for health care professionals, government agencies, patients, and the general public.
Learn more about AMWA.
What to Do Before Choosing a Degree?
Before choosing a degree program, you should spend some time identifying your ideal learning goal, your budget, and your area of specialization.
Whether you choose a general writing course or a technical writing degree program, the end goal of the program should meet your career path.
Therefore, you need to ask yourself the following questions before making a final decision:
- What is my end goal? Do I want to improve my writing skills or learn how to write for a specific technical field?
- What are the requirements of the job opportunities I am looking for?
- Will the program shape me into the right fit for the job I am seeking? (e.g. freelancer, non-profit organization, independent writer, or technical content producer)
- Do I need to invest in a traditional 4-year (or 3-year) degree program or would a stand-alone certification course suffice?
When you ask yourself these questions, you’ll automatically be able to narrow down the degree program that overlaps with your goals and requirements.