Fall 2021 delivery mode: online
- This program will be delivered online for the fall semester.
- Program electives (COMP, MDIA courses) will be offered in the format specified by the Computing and Media departments.
Your education is our priority and we will continue to deliver the applied instruction, collaborative experience, and industry connections that you expect from BCIT.
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, 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 seven terms or just over two years. Those taking two courses per term (two three-hour classes per week) can finish in four terms or just over one year. You have up to seven years to complete the program.
Most courses are held at the Downtown campus or the Burnaby campus, two are offered online, and one is blended format (half online, half face-to-face).
You can also enrol course-by-course, and commit to the full program later on, if it’s right for you.
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.
Costs & Supplies
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.
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.
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 ten required courses and one elective.
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 seven terms or just over two years. Those taking two courses per term (two three-hour classes per week) can finish in four terms or just over one year. You have up to seven years to complete the program.
Each course is either six or twelve weeks long with one class per week. Each class is three hours long.
Graduating & Jobs
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
- 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.
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:
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.
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.
Walter Lanz started his career as a technical writer in 1992 and has worked documenting engineering products and intellectual property, as well as developing trades curriculum. He has experience in book self-publishing, technical illustration and photography. Walter has developed materials for and taught in the Technical Writing Program since its inception in 2005, and has been instructing COMM 1013 since 2008.
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
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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