Technical writing is a promising field that is about to grow considerably in the observable future. It is not surprising that the number of people who consider making tech writing their primary source of income grows. If you are interested in a technical writing career, it would be a good idea for you to get a technical writing certification.
How can certification help you?
To answer this question, let’s have a look at what prospective employers are looking for when they search for a technical writer. The base from which you can start your career is a bachelor’s degree in virtually any discipline. In addition to that, you need to have at least some experience in writing and sufficient expertise in the field you want to focus on as a tech writer.
Hands-on experience with the subject matter is valued as highly as a strong portfolio of previously written technical documents. While certification is not mandatory to land a job as a technical writer, it is an effective way to persuade prospective employees that you already have necessary technical writing skills and expertise to handle their projects.
Where to get technical writer certification from?
There are several professional organizations that offer technical writing certification. It goes without saying that your choice of which one to go for depends on your area of interest and the technical writing categories you have experience with and plan to proceed writing. Further, we will overview some of the most reputable organizations and online courses that provide the certification.
American Medical Writers Association
Writing technical documentation in the field of healthcare is a challenging and demanding job due to both complexity of the subject matter and the responsibility associated with it. When you write a manual on how to use medical equipment or the safe way to consume a drug, there is no room for error.
It is not surprising, therefore, that American Medical Writers Association has strict requirements for the professionals desiring to become Medical Writer Certified. In addition to a bachelor’s degree, an applicant must have at least two years of proven experience in medical communications.
The technical writing certification is not permanent. It means that to keep the MWC title, the writers must continuously complete educational courses designed to keep them in touch with the most recent developments in the fields of both medicine and technical writing.
National Association of Science Writers
As evident from the association’s name, it provides certification for writers focusing on the topics of science. The field continues to grow as the interest in sciences grows globally. Therefore, technical writers find himself at the forefront of the united effort to spread scientific knowledge.
The membership in the association is competitive. To get certified, an applicant has to submit five technical writing pieces produced within the last five years for review. Moreover, recommendations from two current NASW members have to provide their recommendations concerning the applicant.
Society for Technical Communicators
The largest professional organization for technical writers working in a wide variety of fields offers certification of three tiers to reflect the different professional milestones a tech writer can achieve. The high-tier certification cannot be obtained without getting the lower-level ones. All three certifications have to be maintained through being constantly update on new educational materials provided by STC. The three levels of certification are discussed below.
The initial level of certification is the Certified Professional Technical Communicator (CPTC) Foundation. It is designed to assess whether the applicant has the basic understanding of the field to be capable of becoming an efficient member of a tech writing or tech communication team.
The test applicants must pass to become certified is based on the Technical Communication Today textbook. The test is a comprehensive one aimed at challenging the applicant to show their expertise in 9 areas crucial for any practicing technical writer whatever the subject matter of their projects may be.
The next step in the certification is the practitioner certificate that can be obtained only by the holders of the Foundation level certificate. This program focuses on adding leadership competencies to the basic expertise on how to perform the tasks of a tech writer. In other words, this certification level shows that the professional possesses sufficient knowledge of best practices and understands the ways in which they can be implemented.
This expertise enables the Certified Professional Technical Communicator (CPTC) Foundation to take active part in decision making processes within a team of tech writers and even take the lead in the activity.
The same textbook as for the Foundation level is used to pass the course for this certificate.
The last tier of the program presupposes that the applicant already has a vast portfolio of completed high-level projects and expert interviews. It takes several years to advance from the Practitioner to Expert level. The Expert certificate can be seen as a prestigious collate rather than mere acknowledgement of professional skills.
Online courses for technical writer certification
A variety of online resources is available for aspiring tech writers who would like to boost their skills without necessarily obtaining a formal certification. At the same time, taking an online course may be a useful strategy to prepare for the certification. With these considerations in mind, let’ take a look at some of the most popular online educational resources for technical writers.
This online course focuses on equipping the students with the skills necessary to convey difficult technical concepts in simple and understandable terms. In other words, its purpose is to upgrade the “writing” part of your technical writing skill set.
This educational platform offers a variety of courses taught by top professionals in their respective fields. As technical writing gains prominence rapidly, it is not surprising that video materials, lectures and exercises on various aspects of technical writing are available there.
After completion of each course, you will receive a Coursera certificate which is commonly recognized as a considerable proof of educational achievement by many employers.
The course is useful for beginners who want to learn the essential aspects of technical writing. For example, a lot of time is spent on teaching how to create your document templates that will be later used for a variety of projects on different subjects. The best thing about the course is that it is comprehensive in the sense that all necessary materials are included.
This course stresses team communication. It will help you to hone your skills when it comes to producing technical documents meant for corporate use. In addition to that, the insights concerning cooperative communication will help you in researching information for your writings through cooperation with the professionals in the subject field you will be writing about.
One of OSU’s most popular courses is available online now. It combines the best from the two worlds: instructions on the peculiarities of technical writing and insight from liberal arts with their focus on text analysis. As a result, the course will equip you with the skills in audience analysis and crafting text structure according to the needs of the audience you have identified in advance.