• Who should take the Technical Communication Certificate?
    The Technical Communication Certificate is ideal for those who want to make a shift to a technical communication career. It will also be very useful for those who are already working in the technical communication field and looking for a formal certificate to enhance their knowledge and career prospects. No prior technical communication experience or education is necessary, but a good command of the English language is a must.
    What courses are offered as part of the certificate?
    The certificate includes five compulsory courses that have been carefully designed to give you a well-rounded overview of a career in technical communication. Each course deals with a different aspect of technical communication. The certificate can only be obtained after all the courses have been completed.
    Can I get a sampling of the topics covered in these courses?
    Some of the topics covered in the certificate courses include:
    • What is a software development life cycle? What is a document development life cycle?
    • How do you decide if and when a document is complete or ready for release?
    • What are the key features of a successful document? How do you structure a document around these features?
    • What is audience analysis, and how does writing to that audience make your documentation easier to understand?
    • Is documentation just hype, or does it really work? Can it provide a return on investment for an organization?
    • How do you ensure accuracy and precision?
    • What is the “grammar of graphics”?
    • What are the effective techniques for interviewing subject matter experts, developers and engineers?
    • What are style guides, and how and why are they used?
    • How do you master the art of writing good instructions?
    • What are RFBs, RFPs and RFIs, and why is the ability to prepare procurement documents such a high-demand skill?
    What kinds of assignments can I expect? How are students evaluated?
    In each class session, you can expect a combination of theory and lecture, group or individual activity and some presentations. You will need to schedule an average of two hours for assignments and self-study per week. The final grades are a combination of assignments and class participation and (in some cases) tests. Marks are awarded not only for the correct answer but also for the reasoning and justification used to find a solution.
    Do I need to take the courses in any particular order?

    COMM 9093 (Technical Writing and Analysis) is a prerequisite for the other four courses and must be completed first. Once you complete COMM 9093 (Technical Writing and Analysis), the rest of the courses may be taken in any order. However, we recommend that you complete the courses in the following order:

    You can take courses simultaneously if you wish to complete the program quickly, but we strongly recommend that you allow yourself enough time to do the assignments required for each course.

    How long will it take for me to complete the certificate?
    If you take one course per semester for five semesters, you will complete it in a year and a half. You have complete flexibility and can take gaps between courses, but you must complete the certificate within three years. We do recommend that you avoid long gaps between the courses in order to ensure a smooth flow of information from one course to the next.
    Can I take multiple courses concurrently?
    Yes. However, each course has several assignments, and we do not recommend overloading yourself with several courses at the same time, especially if you are working. For the best learning experience, we suggest not enrolling in more than one course at one time. You may wish to discuss your specific situation with and seek advice from our teachers or department staff if you plan on taking more than one course at the same time. Contact the Continuing Education Liberal Studies department to be put in touch with the appropriate teachers.
    Is there any placement assistance after completion of the certificate?
    No, there is no formal placement program. However, most teachers are very well connected and networked within various industries and can provide you with suggestions for your job search. Companies do occasionally contact us about hiring students who have completed our certificate. Technical communication teachers, current students and alumni also participate in a group mailing list that you can join. Members of this list share job openings and other interesting events related to technical communication. Events may include special guest lectures and presentations by leading technical communication professionals organized by George Brown College or other professional organizations, such as the Society for Technical Communication.
    Will I have a portfolio to show at the end of the certificate?
    You will work on various assignments in each of the courses. Some are designed to help you develop your portfolio while others expose you to aspects of technical communication that you may address in an interview. Creating an effective portfolio (including what to have and what to avoid) will also be discussed. You will also have the option of working on your resume, LinkedIn profile or portfolio (traditional or electronic) and submitting it as a course assignment. After receiving teacher feedback, you will be encouraged to submit a job application using your completed resume, profile or portfolio.
    Is this an English grammar/writing certificate?
    No. Although there might be some discussions on grammar-related topics, grammar is not the main goal of this certificate. The main focus is on concepts, processes and typical deliverables in technical communication.
    Can a certificate in technical communication help me in my current non-writing role as well?
    Yes. The field of technical communication has a lot of transferable skills and can benefit you in a variety of scenarios. The concepts in this certificate can be applied in many practical situations and can help improve your overall written communication skills.
    How will this certificate help me develop my technical writing skills?
    The courses in this certificate provide you with a better understanding of how various documents should be planned, structured, written, reviewed, edited and maintained. You’ll begin to appreciate writing as an art and not just something you have to do. Throughout the certificate, you will examine documents – including reports, proposals, Requests for Proposals (RFPs), technical documents, guides, procedures, glossaries and project documentation plans (or similar) – that are used in a variety of settings and industries.
    I am a professional writer and have several years of writing experience. Can this certificate help me?
    Yes, by giving you
    • a fresh perspective. Working in the same environment over a long period of time can sometimes hamper creativity. These courses allow you to gain new perspectives, tools and techniques from your peers and help you learn about what’s going on outside your world.
    • the opportunity for career growth. Regardless of your experience, some organizations need you to have formal education in order to be considered for continued employment or a promotion. Our certificate is recognized by many organizations in a variety of sectors.
    • theory to back up your experience. Learning on the job is good, but theory can answer a lot of open questions you may be struggling with. What you see in your workplace may be a customized technique, but knowing how the wider industry approaches a similar issue may enhance your overall understanding.
    I am a manager. Will this certificate help me?
    This certificate will be very helpful if you supervise a team of writers and editors. Discussions on performance matrices for writers, the design and implementation of end-to-end edit and review cycles and the integration of reviews with defect tracking will present you with many different options for ways you can take your organization and management skills to the next level.
    What types of jobs are found within technical communication?

    Technical communication is a big industry, and companies in all sectors need communication professionals. According to statistics, the amount of information available doubles every seven years. With so much to process, information needs to be presented in a way that is efficient and logical – that’s where many businesses must rely on a technical communicator. Technical communication has many branches and, while they are not all the same, they have many transferable skills. Some of these branches are:

    • Technical writing: This is the generic name for the documenting that is used in a variety of sectors (such as manufacturing, automotive, food and beverage, consumer electronics, information technology [IT] and supply chain).
    • Content writing: This involves writing for the web and may be a mix of technical writing and creative writing.
    • Software documentation: This is documentation specifically for the information technology [IT] industry (hardware and software).
    • Instructional design: This is the area of training and development that involves creating performance-based learning solutions through various mediums (such as in-class, self-paced, e-learning and social media).
    • Courseware development: This is related to training and development and involves defining and creating syllabuses, courses and outlines. This information forms the basis for the electronic training material created by instructional designers that may be placed on a learning management system (LMS).
    What is the annual salary for someone in technical communication?

    Salaries vary depending on years of experience, industry, company and employment status (full-time employee versus consultant).

    • Average annual full-time salaries can range from $30,000 to $80,000+ (for junior to senior writers).
    • Average hourly rates for consultants can range from $20 to $70+ depending on the length of the contract, client and type of entity (sole proprietor or incorporated).
    I don’t have an English degree. Will it hurt my chances in the industry?
    You do not necessarily need a degree in English to be a successful technical writer. However, you should have very good skills in the language you will be writing in. Depending on the nature of the work, companies usually prefer their writers to have an educational background in English, mass communications/journalism or engineering and sciences. Degrees, diplomas and certificates in computer-related and other technical areas are also common among today’s writers.
    Where can I go if I have more questions?
    For more information, contact the Continuing Education Liberal Studies department at 416-415-5000, ext. 2092, or email celiberal@georgebrown.ca.