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Getting an Online Post Graduate Certification in Technical Writing

written by: Sonal Panse•edited by: Sylvia Cochran•updated: 9/29/2009

This article takes a look at how to go about getting an online post graduate certification in technical writing. The certification courses can be taken by beginners interested in entering the technical writing profession and also by technical writers seeking to refresh their skills.

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    Online Post Graduate Certification in Technical Writing

    As technology advances rapidly, the need to document, communicate, instruct and explain it in clear terms has become even more vital. Technical writers are a group in growing demand and may command excellent salaries. An online post graduate certification in technical writing can be useful in getting started in this profession. The course can help you do the following -

    • Research, gather and interpret technical information
    • Write and edit documentation for products, technical reports, manuals, online help and training curriculum
    • Produce marketing materials
    • Use software programs like FrameMaker, RoboHelp and Dreamweaver
    • Use graphic design for page and book layouts
    • Follow style guidelines
    • Understand the requirements of the audience you are writing for
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    Getting an Online Post Graduate Certification in Technical Writing

    To get an online post graduate certification in technical writing, you should -

    • Have a graduate degree
    • Be interested in technology
    • Have a good grasp of the English language and its grammar
    • Have good computer skills
    • Have some sense of graphic design
    • Have the ability to comprehend technical concepts fast
    • Be self-disciplined, motivated and organized
    • Have good time management skills
    • Have excellent communication skills

    It is a good idea to research different online certificate programs and the courses they offer. Check if the courses tally with the kind of technical writing you want to do. Try to find out if the courses are relevant to what is currently required in the industry. Find out the job placement rates for graduates of the considered programs. It might help to talk with former graduates about their experiences and also with industry professionals regarding course recommendations.

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    Swinburne University of Technology

    Swinburne University of Technology: Graduate Certificate of Social Science (Technical Communication)

    Open to both Australian and international students, this is a one year, part-time course that can be completed in six months in a full-time mode. Students are required to complete four units in one year to obtain the graduate certification. If they wish to complete a graduate diploma, they must take on four additional units in a second year in an on-campus mode at Swinburne's Hawthorn campus.

    Students will study the following courses online, two units per semester -

    • Effective Communication
    • Software for Technical Communicators
    • Developing Technical Documents
    • Developing Online Help for Applications

    To be eligible for admission to this program, you need -

    • A degree from an accredited graduate school
    • Two years minimum industry experience, if you don't have an undergraduate degree

    Students must submit a resume, two academic or professional references and a work portfolio. Tuition fees are $1,800 per 12.5 credits (Australian dollars). Fees can change at any time, so it'll be better to consult the school website at the time of application. Applications are to be made in February to start courses in March, and in July to start in August. Application forms are available on the school’s website.

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    Louisiana Tech University

    Louisiana Tech University: Certificate in Technical Writing and Communication

    Who can take this program -

    • Current language or other discipline graduates interested in technical writing
    • Graduates hoping to enter the technical writing field
    • Industry professionals looking for additional skills for career advancement

    To enroll in the program, students must have a Bachelor's Degree and must have completed English 303: Introduction to Technical Writing, or its equivalent from an accredited school. English 303 can be taken online at Louisiana Tech University.

    The following courses are offered -

    • Seminar in Technical Writing
    • Technical Writing for Publication
    • Technical Editing
    • Occupational Technical Writing
    • Specification, Bid, Grant, and Proposal Writing
    • Readings in Scientific and Technical Communications
    • Graphics in Technical Writing

    Students must complete 15 hours or at least five courses to obtain the certificate. The tuition fee for five courses is approximately $2,062. Please check the latest fee status at the Office of Comptroller.

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    Benefits of an Online Post Graduate Certification in Technical Writing

    • You can get the certification from the location of your choice
    • You can continue with your current profession or studies while working on the technical writing certification
    • You can make up your own study schedule and study at your own pace
    • You can interact with the instructor and the other students using an online messaging system and online forums
    • Usually you can take courses individually or in combination
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    Career Prospects with an Online Post Graduate Certification in Technical Writing

    Career prospects for technical writers are excellent and will continue to remain favorable in coming years. The Society of Technical Communication (STC) predicts a job growth rate of almost 22% per year.

    Salary depends on experience, skills, job position and location. The STC gives the annual salary of entry level technical writers as $35,000-$52,500. The U.S. Bureau of Labor reports the annual earnings of technical writers as less than $35,520 and more than $91,720.

    Please read "Guide to Becoming a Technical Writer with Online Technical Writing Courses" here on Bright Hub.

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    Resources

    • The Society of Technical Communication (STC): http://www.stc.org/
    • The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics: http://www.bls.gov/oco/ocos089.htm