Eastern Washington University offers the only BA in Technical Communication in the State of Washington.
Technical Communication is a professional program designed to prepare you for a successful career as a technical writer for business, industry, or government, both regionally and nationally. You can choose from two options, focusing on essential technical communication skills while building expertise in graphic design and public relations OR information systems and web applications.
Technical writers, also called technical communicators, make technical information available and understandable to people who need it. According to the U.S. department of Labor, technical writers prepare instruction manuals, journal articles, and other supporting documents to communicate complex and technical information more easily. They also develop, gather, and disseminate technical information among customers, designers, and manufacturers[i]. They usually work with subject matter experts such as engineers, technicians, or scientists. Technical Communicators create, design, edit, and produce a variety of documents including software and equipment manuals, maintenance procedures, sales promotion materials, organizational policies and procedures, informative articles, websites (both front and back end), and assembly instructions.
Generally, a career in technical communication pays well, but wages and salaries for technical writers vary according to region. For example, in 2014, the median wage for technical writers in the U. S. was $31.19/hr, but in Washington state the median wage was $33.19/hr. The median annual salary was $69,030 nationally but $80,830 in Washington. However, wages and salary in Spokane county would be lower with Seattle having higher wages and salaries. In Washington state, the average annual salary earned by technical writers in 2015 was $75,019 and entry level was $53,672. To learn more about occupational earnings for technical communication visit the U.S. Bureau of Labor or O*Net or the Washington Career Bridge.
Technical communication is one of the top occupations statewide in terms of growth. Between 2012-2022, the number of new job openings per year is estimated to increase 15%. According to the U.S. Department of Labor, "job opportunities, especially for applicants with technical skills, are expected to be good. The growing reliance on technologically sophisticated products in the home and the workplace and the increasing complexity of medical and scientific information needed for daily living will create many new job opportunities for technical writers."
Technical communicators need to be good writers, but they also need to be able to gather, understand, synthesize, and organize technical information. They need strong problem solving and critical thinking skills. They need to be active learners and have good listening and speaking skills. They need to be able to manage projects and work both independently and in teams. They need to have good computer literacy with some knowledge of desktop publishing and graphics.
For more information contact:
Dr. Teena A. M. Carnegie (509-359-6037)
[i] Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2014-15 Edition, Technical Writers, on the Internet at HTTP://WWW.bls.gov/ooh/media-and-communication/technical-writers.htm .
As part of this program, you complete a core set of technical communication courses. The courses include studies in grammar, editing, document design and usability, proposal writing, and writing instructions. The program also includes a capstone course and a professional internship, requiring at least 200 hours of supervised work in a business, industry or agency related to the student's academic preparation and career goals. In addition to the core courses in technical communication, students also complete courses in either graphic design and public relations OR information systems and web applications.
As a part of this program, you will learn to design user interfaces, create a wide range of professional and technical documents, test products and documents for usability, design and develop websites, and desktop publishing. You will also have the opportunity to gain real world experience by participating in service learning projects in each of the core courses of the program. Each of these projects will introduce you to actual consultant work under the supervision of professors. You will gain valuable portfolio material and the opportunity for long-term professional relationships, preparing you for employment immediately after graduation.
EWU's program is designed to deliver:
Note: two years of a single high school foreign language or one year of a single college-level foreign language is required in addition to degree requirements.
For detailed information on course requirements, please see the current EWU catalog description (listed under English).
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