Part-time Associate Certificate 6425acert

Write it

The BCIT Associate Certificate in Technical Writing is an excellent launch pad into an exciting career or second career. An increasing number of industries are recognizing the vital part that clear writing, good structure and logical, audience-specific organization play in their instruction and procedure manuals, their training materials, their quality assurance procedures, their proposals and grant applications, and all other business-generating and information-storing documentation. Technical writers, who make a living imparting these qualities to documents, enhance productivity, reduce errors, improve safety, and increase customer satisfaction.

Technical writers are therefore increasingly becoming an integral part of company engineering, research and production teams, ensuring the flow of clear, timely, and accurate information on which business and production depend. With growing globalization and increasing conduct of business and exchange of information via cyberspace, clear communication and effective editing are more important than ever; technical writing is a field that will continue to grow in scope and demand.

If you enjoy writing, have a logical mind, like to tease order out of complex situations, and have a knack for problem solving and putting yourself in the readers' shoes, tech writing may be for you. It's a rewarding, well compensated career, ideal for team-oriented people with a linguistic knack, good communication skills, and a desire to contribute to the success of an organization.

The Program

BCIT's Associate Certificate in Technical Writing is a part-time, evening program, offered by our Communication Department. It consists of 11 courses of either 18-hour or 36-hour duration, with each course meeting for one three-hour session per week. Those taking one course per term (three hours per week) can finish in 7 terms or just over 2 years. Those taking two courses per term (two three-hour classes per week) can finish in 4 terms or just over one year. You have up to seven years to complete the program.

All instructors are industry experts still active in the field and vetted for their teaching ability, not just the excellence and currency of their knowledge.

Program Entry

Entrance requirements

English Prerequisite:

Students must have a minimum of one of the following:

  1. English 12 (C+) or equivalent; or
  2. COMM 0015 score of 70 or better.

Students who wish to confirm their English level are strongly advised to take COMM 0015. Students do not need to submit transcripts for entrance to this program, however, in the case of formal or informal grade appeals or reviews, they will be asked to show proof of their English prerequisites.

NOTE: The elective course, COMM 1106, offers additional language support and is strongly recommended for any students scoring below C+ on English 12 to take before entering the program (does not count towards program credits). As well, students must meet the prerequisites of the program's individual courses. Students will find these prerequisites by clicking on the course links in the program matrix.

Program declaration

To determine if the courses you intend to take will be applied towards a credential you must declare your program. This ensures that BCIT is aware of your intent to complete the program as it is currently outlined.

Program declaration enables you to declare a program of study and outline the courses you plan to complete to meet the program requirements. Program declaration also provides the opportunity to apply for transfer credit. Upon approval, a confirmation letter will be mailed to you outlining your program of study.

To declare your program, please submit the Part-time Program Declaration form [PDF]. This form is also available at Student Information and Enrolment Services. Please allow approximately six to eight weeks for processing.

Courses

Learning Activities

Courses follow the BCIT model, which balances theory and practice. Class time is divided between mini lectures and student exercises. The mini lectures will provide you with the theoretical framework. The exercises that follow will provide you with the opportunity to apply the theory you have learned. The exercises emphasize writing and editing, but also cover a wide range of topics including profiling audiences, designing information schema, and using software applications.

Out-of-class time is divided between required readings and assignments. As the courses are short and intensive, the reading assignments are often considerable. The assignments are designed to allow you to apply further the theory you have learned.

Class Locations

Courses are taught at both the Downtown and Burnaby campuses. Courses that require the use of application software are taught in state-of-the-art computer labs. Other courses are taught in regular classrooms.

To get the most from the program you need to read voraciously, practice what you learn, and continually hone your skills. The courses require your full commitment.

Industry Project

Once you have completed all required course work you will participate in an industry-sponsored project under faculty supervision. This will allow you to apply your skills in a real-world setting, and provide you with a portfolio piece and industry contacts and references.

Program matrix

Check current availability of courses for this program.

1. Required Courses*: Credits
  COMM 1007 Technical Writing Style 1.5
  COMM 1008 Technical Editing 1.5
  COMM 1009 Technical Writing: Definitions, Instructions and Process Descriptions 3.0
  COMM 1013 Documentation Project Management** 3.0
  COMM 1040 Technical Documentation Graphics** 3.0
  COMM 1110 Writing for the Web** 1.5
  COMM 1260 Designing and Writing Online Help** 3.0
  COMM 2206 Writing for the Computer Industry** 3.0
  COMM 2207 Single-Sourcing for Technical Writers** 1.5
  COMM 2210 Industry Project for Technical Writers 1.5
*Although most courses can be taken in any order, students should take introductory courses first: COMM 1007, COMM 1008, COMM 1009, and COMM 1110. Courses above the introductory level are generally more intensive and may introduce highly technical concepts and software.

**Before taking COMM 1013, COMM 1040, COMM 1110, COMM 1260, COMM 2206, and COMM 2207, students must have completed their technical (COMP) elective and must have intermediate word processing skills in the latest version of MS Word for Windows.
 
2. Complete one of the following*: Credits
  COMP 1850 Web Development and Design 1 3.0
  COMP 2010 Microsoft Office 2013 3.0
  COMP 2256 Visual Analytics for Business Intelligence with Tableau 3.0
  COMP 2369 Microsoft Word 2013 3.0
*Students are advised to take COMP 1002 before taking their technical (COMP) elective.
 
Total Credits: 25.5

Check current availability of courses for this program.

Transfer credit

Do you have credits from another BC/Yukon post-secondary school? Do you want to know if they transfer to courses here at BCIT? Check out BCIT's Transfer Equivalency Database to find out.

Program Details

You will learn the skills necessary to succeed as a technical writer. As the curriculum is designed by industry professionals, the skills you learn will be current with industry standards and trends.

Core Writing Skills

Technical writers need to have good language skills and a clear understanding of how to reach their audience. Building on your already firm grasp of English grammar and usage, you will learn how to:

  • identify and target discourse communities
  • analyze and profile audiences and their needs
  • write clearly and concisely
  • write with the appropriate style and tone
  • edit for content, grammar and syntax

Writing for Technical Subjects

Writing technical documentation requires both discipline and creativity. Discipline means observing rules and conventions that act as guidelines. Creativity means choosing the best way to convey information while staying within the guidelines. You will learn how to:

  • write definitions, instructions, and process descriptions
  • design and create software manuals
  • design information architecture for web sites
  • create web content
  • design and create online Help systems
  • design and create single-sourced content
  • recognize translation issues

Document Management Skills

Technical writers need to manage documents efficiently. You will learn how to:

  • build document templates and apply formatting
  • create and apply style guides
  • develop document outlines, budgets, and schedules
  • create document plans, proposals, and contracts
  • apply document controls

Graphics, Illustrating and Formatting

Technical writers use more than words to communicate— there is also a strong visual component. In fact, some technical writers eventually specialize as technical illustrators. You will learn how to:

  • create and edit vector drawings
  • create and edit bitmap drawings
  • format documents to enhance communication
  • format documents for visual appeal

Software Applications

Technical writers are application software experts. Before entering the program you should have at least a basic level of competency using MSWord. Applications that you will learn include:

  • MSWord
  • Intro to Web Development (optional)
  • CorelDRAW
  • Help authoring tools

Program Completion

You can complete the entire program and use it as a platform from which to launch a new career. To obtain the certificate, you must complete ten required courses and one elective.

Program Duration

If you take one course per week, you can finish the program in seven terms. If you take two courses per week, you can finish the program in four terms. You have up to seven years to complete the program.

Course Length

Each course is either six or twelve weeks long with one class per week. Each class is three hours long.

Grading

The passing grade is 50%; however, to receive the Certificate, students must achieve a minimum grade of 70% for each course.

Graduating & Jobs

Job Opportunities

With Vancouver being a hi-tech hub, British Columbia continues to be one of the best places in Canada to work as a technical writer. This is especially true because technical writers are also in increasing demand in:

  • health care
  • electronics
  • engineering
  • software
  • heavy industry and utilities
  • education
  • resource extraction
  • government
  • finance, and other employment sectors.

Anywhere people depend on substantial amounts of information, whether conveyed in print or electronically, technical writers are busy making sure that that information is clear, coherent, complete, accurate, and unambiguous. It's a value-adding process that carries a lot of responsibility, but also presents an exciting opportunity to keep learning, growing, and advancing.

Graduate employment outcomes

The following link takes you to graduate outcome survey results containing mostly labour market results from the 2011-2013 BCIT Outcomes Surveys of 2010-2012 Graduates.
Note: The survey results will be displayed in a separate browser window. To view these results, you need to have the Adobe Acrobat Reader installed in your Web browser.

Apply for graduation

Upon successful completion of all program requirements, complete an Application for BCIT Credential [PDF] and submit to Student Information and Enrolment Services.

Allow approximately six to eight weeks for processing.

All financial obligations to the Institute must be met prior to issuance of any credential.

Faculty, Advisors & Staff

Our instructors are industry experts, all of whom are active in various fields of technical writing. They are selected for their professional excellence, for being up-to-date on industry standards and trends, and for having strong teaching ability.

Check out our instructor profiles:

Jason Hall has over 15 years of writing and training experience to clients including SAP, Webtech Wireless, WorkSafeBC and Health Canada, Jason Hall brings excellence to all his endeavours. He thrives on projects with a full documentation development cycle: interviewing subject matter experts, creating documentation needs analyses, and utilizing his strong software skills. This allow him to develop templates, style sheets, and even provide a polished finish to documents with effective and well-designed graphic components. Jason is a frequent contributor to the Vancouver Observer, an online magazine with over 50,000 readers a month. Combining his technical writing skills and his years as a musician, he researches interesting stories about musicians and music events throughout the city and beyond. As an instructor at BCIT, Jason mentors emerging writers to create clear and concise documentation suitable for its intended audience. Jason teaches and develops course materials for
COMM 1007 - Technical Writing Style
COMM 1008 - Technical Editing
COMM 1110 - Writing for the Web

Glenn Millar is a skilled communicator with more than 25 years experience in education and technical communication. After starting his career as a journalist, Glenn joined BCIT in 1983 where he specializes in developing learning materials. He is the author of more than a hundred freelance articles and holds a B.A. in History and English, a BCIT Certificate in Marketing, and a Master of Distance Education. Glenn teaches and develops course materials for
COMM 1007—Technical Writing Style
COMM 1008—Technical Editing

Geraldine Eliot is the Director of her own copy writing, editing, and Search Engine Optimization company Meerkat Communications and has over 10 years experience teaching Film & Media Studies and English Literature at the University of Cape Town, South Africa, as well as Business and Technical Communication and Technical Writing at BCIT. She has also worked as a research assistant, an online travel writer and editor for Wordtravels.com and MyTripReport.com, is a published poet, and has an MA in English and American Studies. She has also been a contributor to Suite101.com, an online variety magazine, conducts workshops and training on communication-related topics for a variety of industries, and has served as the Communications Director for the NPO, Wired Woman. At BCIT, beyond teaching, she has worked on curriculum development of new courses and has also developed course manuals. She is passionate about transmedia, digital photography, and travel. Geraldine teaches and develops course material for
COMM1110 – Writing for the Web

Matthew (Matt) Rockall is a technical writer with particular expertise in developing on-line content and training systems. He is an active member of the Society for Technical Communications (STC) and is committed to developing the field of technical communication. Matt is also interested in acting and does volunteer publicity planning for the Opening Nite Theatre Society. Recently he published an article on the Works of Wilbur Smith for Solander, the Historical Novel Society Magazine. He holds a Post-Diploma Certificate in Technical Writing from Algonquin College in Ottawa. Matt teaches and develops course materials for
COMM 1009—Technical Writing: Definitions, Instructions and Process Descriptions
COMM 1110—Writing for the Web

Andre Lanz
is a professional engineer and the president of his own technical documentation company. Over the past 10 years, Andre has researched, written, and illustrated over 10,000 pages of original technical documentation—predominantly for the high-tech industry. His documents have included product support manuals, training materials, and proposals. His professional experience includes project management, business administration, corporate financing, research and development, systems engineering, product development, quality control, and customer support. Andre teaches and develops course material for
COMM 1013 - Documentation Project Management

Walter Lanz is a technical writer with 14 years of experience specializing in engineering development and trades curriculum. Walter currently works in the fuel cell sector preparing patent applications. He has also written several consumer books, including the best-selling Along the Dempster: An Outdoor Guide to Canada's Northernmost Highway. Walter teaches and develops course material for
COMM 1040— Technical Documentation Graphics

Steve Bain is an exceptional technical communicator with extensive leadership experience. For 30 years, he has been leading companies in achieving their communication goals in a variety of industries including business commerce, research, health care, transportation, education, and information technology. As an accomplished author, he has worked with the world’s largest publishers including Que, MacMillan, New Riders, PeachPit, Ventana, and Osborne/McGraw-Hill. His experience also includes team management, technical training, education, and technical authoring for such high-profile companies as Polycom, Ritchie Bros. Auctioneers, VeriChip Corp, Creation Technologies, J2 Global, Corel Corporation, Adobe Corporation, Quark Inc, Canadian Airlines International, The Conference Board of Canada, and Canadian Association of Professional Engineers. Steve teaches and develops course material for
COMM 1040— Technical Documentation Graphics

Ted Rutledge has been a professional writer for more than 25 years. His career specializations include all levels of corporate communications, writing, editing, journalism, and publishing. His experiences working in broad range of industries around the world have honed his skills as both a writer and an instructor. Ted holds a B.A in English, a Masters in Business Administration, and a certificate in journalism. Ted teaches and develops course materials for
COMM 1007—Technical Writing Style
COMM 1008—Technical Editing 

Advisory committee

The following are the members of industry advisory committee for the Technical Writing program. Numerous other experts in the field were surveyed and consulted on the program content:

  • Anne Odell, Consulting Technical Writer and Past President
    Society of Technical Communicators
  • Ivana Djeric, Documentation Manager
    McKesson Medical Imaging Corporation
  • Sharon Figueira, Technical Documentation Group Team Lead
    Creo Systems, Inc.
  • Andre Lanz, Program Manager
    General Hydrogen Corporation
  • Susan Nishi, Technical Writer
    Xantrex Technologies
  • Terry Fuller, Instructional Development Consultant
    BCIT Learning Resources Unit
  • Thorsten Ewald, Instructor
    BCIT Communication Department

Contact Us

If you have any questions about this program, please send us an email.

You can also use the form below to make contact with our department, or other applicable departments at BCIT.

Questions or comments?

Please ensure you have reviewed the detailed information on this site, using the navigation to the right, before submitting the form below.

As well, if you meet any of the following criteria, please follow the links for more information, instead of sending the form:

The personal information on this form is collected under the authority of the College and Institute Act (RSBC 1996, Ch.52). BCIT will use this information to communicate with you regarding relevant BCIT programs, courses and services. This information is only used by authorized BCIT staff. Email communication sent to and from BCIT is routed through the United States of America. If you have any questions about BCIT's collection and use of this information, please contact BCIT’s manager of Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy.

Subscribe

Sign up to receive updates, invitations to events, and information about BCIT and your program.

We promise not to spam you, we won’t share your personal information, and you can unsubscribe at any time.

The personal information on this form is collected under the authority of the College and Institute Act (RSBC 1996, Ch.52). BCIT will use this information to communicate with you regarding relevant BCIT programs, courses and services. This information is only used by authorized BCIT staff. Email communication sent to and from BCIT is routed through the United States of America. If you have any questions about BCIT's collection and use of this information, please contact BCIT’s manager of Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy.

How To Apply

Subscribe

Contact Us

Information Sessions

Attend an upcoming information session for this program:

Payment Changes At BCIT

We've changed the way we accept payments.

Find out more

Search Programs

Testimonial

“I was ready for a change and wanted to start a career I could build a future on. I enjoyed my time at BCIT and found the Technical Writing program was very helpful in building my knowledge and confidence in my ability to do the job I was being trained to do.” After finishing the program, Alistair moved to Amsterdam and landed an English technical writing position in just six days, apparently the only such job in the city at the time. Alistair Henry

Testimonial

"I entered BCIT because I was looking for a way to combine my technical skills with my goal of becoming a writer. In the Technical Writing program, I have learned new skills such as project management, document editing, and user analysis. I have also become a better writer, and I am now comfortable writing in a number of different styles including persuasively, which is critical in my new position as a proposal writer for a Fortune 500 medical services company." Michael Anderson

Testimonial

"I was exceptionally pleased with the thoroughness and accuracy of the research, precision of the text, and superb organization and sequencing of the content as delivered by our BCIT Technical Writing intern. In fact, the work was so outstanding, I have shared it with some of our other CBC locations." John Mang

A Brilliant Career

A Consumer Reports Money Advisor Newsletter suggests that technical writing is a "brilliant second career." For those interested in technical writing careers, the newsletter also says "You should be a clear, concise writer with some background in the industry in which you plan to work."