Writing for Publication (Non-fiction). Offered as an online course.
Additional electives offered by other departments support
technical writing students in areas such as graphic design, Web development,
programming, e-business, and many other subjects. See
the Elective Course list at AA Degree - Technical Writing.
Do I need a technical background to study technical
No, a technical background is not essential to studying technical writing.
The skills you learn in the technical writing program will be valuable
in your professional career regardless of whether or not you have a technical
background. Writing clear reports, planning efficient programs, and
making persuasive presentations are important skills in every area of
business today. Technical training is advisable if you want
to work in engineering, where you deal primarily with technical material.
However, many marketing, sales, executive, and managerial positions
demand excellent technical communication skills but do not
require a technical background.
Who employs technical writers?
are hired by companies involved with electronics, aerospace,
medicine, scientific research, engineering, construction, and automobiles.
In fact, every product or service
that exists needs to be documented and its benefits need to be communicated.
In the Bay Area,
computer, multimedia, biotech, and other high tech companies need writers
to produce manuals and online documentation. Additionally, government agencies,
service firms, and nonprofit organizations need writers who can explain
their services in clear, concise language and who can
translate their end-users' goals into designers'
And technical writing is not just for writers. Skilled technical writers
are also sought after for executive, managerial, marketing, and sales positions in
What skills do technical writers use?
writers usually combine superb writing skills and a
love for learning with a background in technology or marketing. Other
skills that will help you be a successful technical writer include:
Analysis of technical information
Page design and illustration
What do employers look for when hiring technical writers?
When you interview for a technical writing position, show the employer evidence that
you are flexible and learn quickly, that you work well individually and in a team, and
that you accept criticism gracefully and can meet tight deadlines. Invite her to
study your portfolio that displays knowledge of business conventions
and practices, a wide range and depth of subject matter, and, of course, flawless style,
grammar and puncuation.
Demonstrate strong interpersonal communication, analysis, and time-management skills. If you
can achieve all these goals, you are the ideal candidate employers are searching for.
What computer-related skills do employers look for?
Technical writers should be familiar with one or more of the
software tools in each of the categories listed below:
Word processing and page layout
Word, FrameMaker, Quark XPress, InDesign, PageMaker
Illustration and graphics
Photoshop, Illustrator, Freehand
Standard Generalized Markup Language (SGML), HyperText Markup Language (HTML), XML
Operating systems and programming
Windows UNIX, Linux, Graphical User Interfaces (GUIs), PASCAL, C, C++, and Java
Knowledge of computer
hardware and networking is also a plus.
While you are studying
for your technical writing career, classes in De Anza's Computer
Applications and Office Systems (CAOS) department can help you build
many of the skills listed above. CAOS classes are often offered on
a self-paced basis to accommodate the busy schedules of working people.
De Anza's sister college, Foothill College, may offer classes in their
CAST department for skills like FrameMaker which are not currently
taught at De Anza.