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Professional, Technical, Business, and Scientific Writing


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What to Expect

Technical writing programs attract students who are creative, who like to express their thoughts in writing and who like to entertain and inform.

Rayo Flores is a graduate of the technical communication program at Texas Tech University. "We focus more on completing projects than on memorizing a textbook and taking tests," she says.

"This is valuable when job hunting, because we take our experiences from the class and use them to answer questions that the interviewers ask."

Most programs require students to do internships. Students can also hone their skills by keeping a journal and freelance writing. There are a number of Internet sites that offer writing opportunities.

Creative writing, law, economics, a foreign language, sociology, psychology and science are just a few of the courses students take. For every hour of classes and lectures, students are expected to study at least one to two hours a night.

Joanne Norman took a certificate in technical writing. She says you don't always need to complete a technical writing degree to become a technical writer. "Instead, learn a number of skills themselves and then hire a technical writer as a tutor to learn the tricks of the trade," she suggests.

How to Prepare

"I would suggest that any high school student interested in becoming a technical writer buy a book on tech writing, try to arrange a co-op or apprenticeship with a high-tech company, and write all the time," says Norman.

High school students should take creative writing classes, speech and communication. It is important for technical writing students to be able to write simply, as many people will have to understand what they write.

Ann Ruiz is a graduate of the technical communication program at San Francisco State University. She recommends that students learn a lot about whatever technical subject interests them. "Open your mind and soak up as much as you can about everything. Learn about how people learn, and learn how to help people bring meaning to information."

Teaching is a large part of what technical writers do. Students should take on leadership roles that will expose them to teaching and understanding people.

"The program is not a complete cakewalk. Students have to be prepared to work on many different projects at the same time. Learning to manage time effectively is important," Flores explains.


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