Associate degree in technical writing

Last Updated on January 17, 2023

Associate Degree in Tech Writing

Essential Information

While obtaining an associate’s degree in technical writing, students may learn to design, write, edit and publish documents, such as proposals, reports, business correspondence, technical or instruction manuals, grants or website content.

To begin one of these 2-year associate’s degree programs, students must first have a high school diploma or equivalent.

Associate Degree in Tech Writing

Technical writing programs may award Associate of Art (A.A.), Associate of Science (A.S.) or Associate of Applied Science (A.A.S.) degrees; they may also be known as technical communications programs.

Many degree programs require the creation of a portfolio to demonstrate writing proficiency in a range of technical compositions. To develop this collection and acquire writing, design and publishing skills, students may take courses that cover:

  • Business communications
  • Technical publications
  • Visual communications and design
  • Digital publishing
  • Editing technical documents
  • Graphics for technical documents
  • Online publications
  • Grant writing

Popular Career Options

Technical writers are employed in many business categories and industries, but they can be especially valuable to corporations that require the communication of complex information to a variety of consumer and non-technical audiences. Technical writers may work with industry specialists, such as research and development scientists, computer programmers or developers, medical and health experts, and engineers to write content and copy. Career options for technical writers include becoming:

  • Freelance or contract writers
  • Technical communicators
  • Documentation designers
  • Engineering writers

Salary and Outlook

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), employment of technical writers is predicted to increase by 7% between 2019 and 2029 ( In May of 2019, the BLS estimated that these writers received a median salary of $72,850 per year.

Continuing Education

An associate’s degree program in technical writing may be sufficient training for professionals already employed in the industry who desire to enhance their writing and design skills. However, the BLS reported that employers of technical writers typically look for candidates who have a bachelor’s degree in a communications field and experience with computer and graphic design. Prospective technical writers can earn an associate’s degree and transfer to a 4-year degree program in technical writing, English, communications, journalism or a related field for improved employment prospects, as noted by the BLS.

A technical writing associate’s degree program can help students begin a career in this field or improve their existing skills. In it, students gain the communication and technical abilities that are in high-demand by numerous industries.

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Associates Degree in Technical Writing

Technical Writing Associate’s Degree

Sometimes it’s fascinating to consider that every handbook and manual we’ve received whether for a car, a camera, a coffee maker, or a how-to-build-your-own-bunk-bed guide had to be written by someone. It seems obvious once we think about it, but then again those bland and often confusing pieces of communication have a certain robotic quality to them that we forget that there was once a person staring at a computer screen putting all of that information together. But we rely heavily on what these writers say and how they say it so that we can complete the tasks we set out to accomplish. These writers don’t consider themselves authors; they are technical writers.

And they have a knack for taking the complex processes that our complex technology is comprised of and breaking them down into simpler terms. If you have a way with words and a talent for explaining something in a way that the everyday person can understand, then you have the disposition for technical writing. Enrolling in an Associate’s Degree program for technical writing will hone your communication skills and provide you with the essential training you need to become that all-important explainer who many, many people rely on.

Technical writers are primarily responsible for producing the content found in instruction manuals, how-to manuals, assembly instructions, troubleshooting pages, and the FAQ sections. In additional to just writing content, they commonly create and coordinate the disseminating of this technical information to the clients, customers, manufacturers, and designers or products. These tasks can seem challenging because we most typically learn about these technical details from the manuals technical writers don’t have a manual to go off of and must spend time learning the exact details of their particular subject to that others can understand it. This means working directly with the technical staff and product designers, as well as independently studying and using such products. Technical writers generally work on a team to produce the final manual we end up holding in our hands. Commonly, one of their greatest partners is an illustrator who creates the diagrams we learn from equally as much as the words that explain them.

Once a particular technical writing piece is completed and published, the work still continues on as the manufacturer may receive client feedback. Technical writers’ partners then become the liability specialists and customer service managers who hone the writings to concise, powerful pieces of information. Technical writers most often find employment in careers related to computer systems design, although many are also writing for architectural and engineering services, scientific areas, software publishers, and particular venues in management. Within the past decade much of a technical writer’s work has been published online in addition to physical manuals.

An Associate’s Degree program in technical writing focuses on a certain array of skills. Courses frequently target skills such as writing instruction, grammar, problem-solving, teamwork, and logistics. Additionally, writers might obtain training in a particular field to gain a better grasp of the content they’ll be composing. For example, if they will be writing content for the computer industry, then obtaining specified training in technological concepts would likely be necessary as well.

So now, with the right training, you will become one of those mysterious writers who take complex tasks and break them down into simpler, more manageable steps. You will be equipping individuals with the essential information they need to operate the products and produce the results they are striving to attain. Also, when you earn your Associate’s Degree in technical writing, you have what you need to become a highly sought after individual who possesses the unique skillset that industries and consumers alike depend on.

Degree Programs in Technical Writing

Technical writing programs can teach students how to create instructional manuals for computer software programs or assembly instructions for a desk or bookshelf. Programs are available at the undergraduate and graduate level, and some are online. Read on to learn more about common courses and possible occupations after graduation.View Schools

What Types of Degree Programs Are Available for Technical Writers?

Technical writers are professionals who put complex scientific, mechanical or industrial information into simple language for readers to understand. A technical writer may create assembly instructions for a crib, a how-to manual for a computer software program, or other materials designed for consumers. Technical writing has expanded from the development of print materials to include the design of websites, multi-media materials and support systems. These individuals may work closely with software developers, engineers, computer specialists and scientists to ensure that information is easily understandable and accurate as well.

If you’re interested in a career in technical writing, you have a variety of educational options, including degree programs and certificates. Degree programs in technical writing and technical communications are available at the associate’s, bachelor’s and master’s degree levels. In some cases, technical writing is offered as a specialization within a bachelor’s or master’s degree program in English. Both undergraduate and graduate certificate programs in technical writing are also available. Finally, students pursuing a bachelor’s degree in English may choose to minor in technical writing, which is similar to completing a certificate program.

Degree LevelsAssociate’s, bachelor’s, undergraduate certificate, graduate certificate, master’s
Common CoursesWord processing, information design, document formatting
Average Salary (2020)$78,590 for technical writers*
Online AvailabilityMany programs available in online formats

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

What Will I Study?

Program length, requirements and prerequisites will vary significantly depending upon the level of degree program or certificate that you pursue. Most undergraduate degree, graduate degree and certificate programs in technical writing and technical communications share similar topics of study. In addition to a variety of technical writing and communication courses, you may take courses in information design, computer graphics, word processing, document formatting and Web coding. You’ll learn how to determine the needs of your audience and write for clarity. You’ll also learn about effective researching and editing techniques.

Associate’s and bachelor’s degree programs also have general education requirements. Some bachelor’s degree programs in technical writing allow you to customize your degree by selecting either a technical communication or scientific and medical communication track.

What Might I Earn?

Although technical writing associate’s degrees and certificate programs are available, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) notes that most employers require applicants to have a bachelor’s degree ( If you have a specialized major in engineering or medicine, a certificate in technical writing may be sufficient to gain entry into this field. The BLS also notes that knowledge of computer software or a second language can be helpful in finding a technical writing job.

As of 2020, there were roughly 48,880 technical writers employed in the country. This field is expected to grow at a rate of 7% between 2019 and 2029, according to the BLS. A continued increase in new technical and scientific information is cited as an impetus behind this growth. As of May 2020, the mean annual salary for a technical writer was $78,590, also per the BLS.

Can I Earn My Degree or Certificate Online?

Several schools offer technical writing undergraduate degrees, graduate degrees and certificate programs entirely online. These programs allow you to study largely at your own pace, from anywhere that has a high-speed Internet connection. Online programs offer the same curriculum as on-campus programs. You will have more flexibility in this program, but you’ll still typically have assignment deadlines and scheduled exams. You’ll access lectures and coursework via the school’s website and communicate with instructors and fellow classmates through e-mail, Web chat or discussion boards.

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