Volume 2, Issue
and Online Graduate Programs
By: Connie Boyhan
Students must complete a 36 hour degree program to earn a Master of
Arts in Technical Communication. Most students can complete the program
requirements in 2- 1/2 years if they take two classes per semester and
one in the summer.
The field of technical writing
is rapidly growing and many job opportunities are available for
commercial writers. According to the U. S. Department of Labor and the
Bureau of Labor Statistics the demand for technical writers in
specialty areas such as law, medicine, and economics is increasing. The rapid growth is a result of new scientific and technical
information and the need to communicate it to the world.
In 2002 the U. S. Department of
Labor and the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported the median annual
earnings for salaried technical writers
was $50,580, and the median annual salary for entry level technical
was $41,000. Peter Bowerman, author of The Well-Fed Writer:
Financial Self-Sufficiency as a Freelance Writer in Six Months or
Less, says commercial writing fees are based on hourly rates of $50 -
$100+. You can realistically earn $30,000 a year. If you are aggressive
and can market yourself, you could easily earn $50,000 a year.
Technical writers are needed to create marketing brochures, ad copy,
newsletters, direct mail campaigns, speeches, trade articles, video
scripts, and many other types of projects. According to Bowerman, large
companies such as BellSouth, Coca-Cola, and
UPS are a few of the companies hiring freelance commercial writers. For more
information visit his Web site at: http://www.wellfedwriter.com/.
According to Dr. Janice Walker,
Associate Professor at Georgia Southern University in the Department of
Writing and Linguistics, there are many excellent job opportunities for
technical writers. "Many high-tech industries are moving more routine
technical writing tasks to third world countries, for example, India,"
says Walker. "What that leaves, however, is a distinct opportunity for
professional technical comminicators to move into positions in project
management, editing, things that not just anyone can do to ensure the
quality of the product." If you have a graduate degree in
technical communication you are going to be much more employable.
You could teach courses in it and you would be in demand in high-tech
industries and government positions. You are more likely to have the
project management skills and the usability testing skills you would
need. You basically could choose the industry you want to go into.
If you're interested in a
career in technical writing you would benefit by getting a graduate
degree, and there are several online graduate programs that are gaining in popularity. A report by the American Association of
University Women (AAUW) finds that distance learning is increasing.
The report states sixty percent of online learners are over 25 years of
age and female. Many of these are working mothers who are interested in
furthering their education, and they are doing so online, adding a difficult
"third shift" to their responsibilities as mothers and employees,
according to the study, The Third Shift: Women Learning Online, by
Cheris Kramarae, the AAUW Educational Foundation 1999-2000
Scholar-in-Residence. Nonetheless, the
online program is
appealing to working women because it is
convenient. They can stay home with their family, learn at their own
pace, and save money and time by not having to commute to a university.
There are many benefits to earning a graduate degree online. After
investigating several programs, I recommend Texas Tech's online
program in technical communication. Since I believe their program
is one of the best available, I contacted Dr. Locke Carter, Director of
Technical Communication at Texas Tech university, and asked him to tell
prospective graduate students about Texas Tech's program. Dr. Carter's
video and the following information will provide you with an overview
of the program.
The following is a list of required courses:
These classes are offered three times a year: fall, spring and long
summer. They are rotated so that all classes are available to students
during their enrollment. Attendance is mandatory at the weekly
- Rhetorical Theory
- Publications Management
- Usability Testing
Tuition and Fees (per semester credit hour)
The program prerequisites include excellent writing skills, and
students must be comfortable working with technology. Students are
required to have access to a graphical Web browser. Netscape, or
Internet Explorer is required. Some courses will require specific
software knowledge. Students should expect to spend 10-15 hours a week
studying per online class.
Texas Tech University's online Masters of Arts in Technical
Communication is an excellent program.There are many benefits to
enrolling in this program. The tuition and fees are reasonable in
comparison to the other programs I investigated, and all the courses
are taught by outstanding professors in the field of technical writing.
Students who are interested in earning a masters degree and are
comfortable using technology are good candidates for this online degree
Students need to apply to Texas Tech University's online Master of
Arts in Technical Communication program at least one month before
classes begin since courses are limited to 11 students.
Contact Information at Texas Tech University
Dr. Locke Carter, Director of Technical Communication
Department of English
Lubbock, TX 79409-3091
http://www.english.ttu.edu/distance ed/grad MATConline.asp
Lubbock, TX 79409-1030
Web site: http://www/depts.ttu.edu/gradschool/
For information on careers in technical writing contact:
Society for Technical Communication, Inc.
901 N. Stuart Street
Arlington, VA 22203
Web site: http://www.stc.org
For job opportunities in technical writing visit these web sites:
For information on becoming a member of the Society for Technical Communication visit:
For information on online degrees, scholarships, and financial aid visit:
American Association of University Women. "The Third Shift: Women Learning Online (2001)." 2003.
http://www.aauw.org. (19 Apr. 2005).
Bowerman, Peter. The Well-Fed Writer: Financial Self-Sufficiency as a Freelance Writer in Six Months or Less.
Atlanta: Fanove Publishing. 2000.
Texas Tech Distance Learning - Program Details. 2005.
http://www.de.ttu.edu/content/asp/ProgramDetails.asp?id=5 (14 Apr. 2005).
U.S. Department of Labor. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Occupational Outlook Handbook. 2004.
http://ststs.bls.gov/oco/ococ089.htm (14 Apr. 2005).
Walker, Janice. Personal interview. 26 Apr. 2005.