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 linguistic dexterity, good communication skills, and a desire to contribute to the success of an organization.
BCIT’s Associate Certificate in Technical Writing is an excellent launch pad into an exciting career or second career. Clear writing, good structure and logical, audience-specific organization are critical in the industry. From instruction and procedure manuals to proposals and grant applications, technical writers are needed on engineering, research and production teams. Technical writers help enhance productivity, reduce errors, improve safety, and increase customer satisfaction.
As more and more business is conducted 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.
BCIT’s Associate Certificate in Technical Writing is a part-time program offered by our Communication Department. It consists of 11 courses of either 18-hour or 36-hour duration. Those taking one course per term can finish in seven terms or just over two years. Those taking two courses per term can finish in four terms or just over one year. You have up to seven years to complete the program.
This program is delivered via a combination of asynchronous and synchronous online classes. You can declare this program immediately, or you can enrol course-by-course and commit to the full program later on.
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.
Part-time Studies at BCIT
Take a single course, or work towards a credential — all at a pace that’s right for you. If there’s space available, you can register for a course immediately. Courses are offered in each of three terms: Winter (January), Spring/Summer (April), and Fall (September).
Apply to program
Formal application to this program is not required. To apply to a Part-time Studies program and earn your credential, you simply need to complete a Part-time Program Declaration Request. Applications are processed throughout the year.
Recommended for Success
English Studies 12 completed with minimum 67% (C+) or equivalent English proficiency is recommended for success. 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).
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.
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.
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.
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:
- analyze and deploy visual communication techniques to solve communication problems
- learn the basics of visual brainstorming and how to develop and refine visual ideas
- format documents to enhance communication
- select and implement colour, typefaces, images, and layout techniques to effectively convey complex messages using visual media.
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:
- Intro to Web Development (optional)
- Help authoring tools
In our Technical Writing Certificate Program, students work on industry-sponsored projects, under faculty supervision. These projects provide students with a portfolio piece, real-world experience, and industry contacts and references, while also providing industry with a valuable service. If you think you may have a suitable project, please contact us.
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 the required courses and electives.
The maximum time to complete the program is 7 years.
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
- heavy industry and utilities
- resource extraction
- non-profit organizations
- business administration & operations
- entrepreneurial work & consultation
- green economy & sustainability
- marketing/public relations
- technology/high-tech sector
- 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.
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.
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.
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Programs and courses are subject to change without notice.