Answer: Technical communication is a term that encompasses the strategies used to convey complex information about technical services, products, systems, or processes to targeted audiences. It includes various forms of communication, including specialized information and instructional materials for technical and scientific items, such as computer hardware and software, and manufacturing or research equipment. Individuals with an education in technical communication can find employment in information technology, health care, market research, digital publishing, human resources, public relations, business-to-business marketing, or other related fields.
Technical communication is a practice-oriented field that emphasizes detailed, problem-solving tactics, such as analysis, research, design, and production to communicate intricate information effectively. It covers diverse disciplines, including technical editing/writing, instructional design, training, translation, information architecture, user experience design, document design, and more. Technical writers, document specialists, instructional designers, and other professionals utilize technical communication strategies to create a range of detailed informational products, like project documents, product catalogs, user manuals, training courses, how-to instructions, white papers, grant proposals, product release notes, knowledge-based articles, reference guides, and other forms of content used to convey technical information to internal and external audiences.
Master’s in Technical Communication Programs
Master’s degree programs in technical communication introduce students to the foundational rhetorical principles and theories of the field, as well as effective strategies for technical writing and editing in areas such as computer science, information technology, healthcare and medicine, environmental science, and more. Coursework generally covers central concepts of content organization and presentation, along with industry practices for writing and editing technical documents. Students can also expect to gain skills in areas such as audience analysis, manuscript development, field testing, documentation creation, document usability, and publication management.
|Featured Online Master's in Technical Communication Programs|
|Arizona State University||Online Master of Science in Technical Communication|
Technical communication master’s programs cover multidisciplinary topics across the technical writing and editing industry, such as information architecture, writing for the computer industry, rhetoric of science and technology, publication management, usability research, visual design theory, technical styles and editing, wiki-based documentation, prototyping, structured documentation, and more.
For more information about master’s in technical communication programs, including example class plans and degree requirements, please refer to our Master’s in Technical Communication Programs page.
Skills for Graduates with a Master’s in Technical Communication
The table below lists a number of professional skills that students may develop through a master’s program in technical communication.
|Advanced writing and editing||Research and analysis|
|Document design||Technical knowledge comprehension|
|Digital and technical media||Visual communication|
|Organization and project management||Teamwork and collaboration|
Careers in Technical Communication
A degree in technical communication can lead to employment in nearly any industry, including health care, graphic design, manufacturing, software development, information technology, publishing, public relations, information design, online media, and more. Professionals with an education in technical communication might pursue careers with manufacturing firms, software and hardware development companies, engineering firms, logistics organizations, environmental agencies, hospitals, insurance companies, or any other employer requiring accurate technical documentation of their products and services.
With their skills in writing and editing, technical communicators may take on a variety of duties, such as improving training programs to build efficiencies in product development, creating more effective information architectures for websites to improve user satisfaction, drafting technical illustrations to clarify assembly instructions for a product (e.g. furniture), writing clear medical instructions that help health care providers better communicate with patients, or crafting software instructions that allow users to fully leverage the program’s value. Although technical writer/editor is a common career path, individuals with a master’s in technical communication might also work in project management, or pursue one of the career paths listed below:
- Technical Writer or Documentation Specialist: Technical writers and documentation specialists create instructional and educational content for both consumers and company employees. They might create and publish software instruction manuals, internal wiki pages and terminology glossaries for companies, equipment operation instructions, or articles in technology and science-related journals, to name just a few examples. These professionals also write documentation for companies that need to record their development of software, software updates, and/or other technological innovations.
- Medical Writer: Medical writers specialize in creating documentation and instructional materials about health-related topics, medications, and medical procedures. They may write articles, medical journal abstracts, press releases for medical centers, or patient education materials (such as medication or pre-surgery instructions). Depending on its target audience, the content they create could aim to help health care providers better serve their patients, keep the medical community informed of the latest technological and scientific advancements in their field, or educate the public about developments in health and medicine.
- Training Consultant: Training consultants specialize in creating training materials and other educational content for employees of businesses and other organizations. They write the materials used to assist employees in the onboarding process, and familiarize them with the company’s internal systems and procedures. These specialists may create the content for training presentations and pamphlets, instructions for how to use an internal content management system, or surveys that measure the efficacy of a company’s training program.
- Science and Technology Journalist: Science and technology journalists specialize in translating complex technical and medical concepts into content that the general public can understand and act upon. They write articles on topics like new health and scientific studies, medical issues such as environmental factors that impact community health, and the latest developments in technologies across industries, from computer hardware and software to virtual reality.
- Researcher: Graduates of master’s in technical communication programs can also apply their communication skills and knowledge of technical concepts to research in a variety of fields, including medicine, technology, the natural sciences, and sociology. Researchers design and implement research studies, document their findings, and translate the results for various publications, including scientific journal articles and content for the wider public.