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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
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:
Technical writers need to manage documents efficiently. You will learn how to:
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:
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:
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.
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.
Each course is either six or twelve weeks long with one class per week. Each class is three hours long.
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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
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