Technical Writing serves a vital purpose. How companies communicate product-related information impacts users’ ability to safely and effectively use a product, as well as how those users perceive the company behind the product.
As a result, technical writers often need to be certified. Technical writing certifications empower writers with the tools to communicate critical information to key audiences.
But certificates vary wildly in cost, required coursework, and the qualification obtained in the end. This begs a few questions. What’s the best technical writing certification? And how do you choose? Keep reading to find out!
The 6 Best Technical Writing Certifications (Degrees, Courses, and Online Programs)
1. The University of Strasbourg
Master’s in Technical Communication and Localization (TCLoc) / TEKOM Certification
The University of Strasbourg in Strasbourg, France offers professional certification in technical communication, and much more. The dual-track program offers students both a master’s degree in technical communication and localization, as well as professional certification in technical writing through TEKOM, the European Association of Technical Communicators.
The TCLoc program offers multiple pathways for students to obtain their degree and certification, taking between one and two years. TCLoc’s diverse curriculum includes multiple web languages and technologies, immersion in the burgeoning field of localization, an introduction to Computer-Aided Translation tools, content marketing and strategy, project management, professional writing, visual communication and design, and much more.
It’s ideal for career changers and established professionals in the field of technical communication and localization, wherever they’re located in the world.
Cost: $6660 for first-time applicants
2. UC San Diego Extension
Professional Certificate in Technical Communication
UC San Diego’s Extension Program features a Professional Certificate in Technical Communication. The program consists of 18-24 months of coursework and includes in-person and online options. Featuring core courses, a variety of electives, and a capstone course, the certificate affords learners a range of knowledge and skills, from technical editing and communication to information design and critical thinking for technical communicators.
The program also grants access to more technical tools such as Adobe Photoshop, text editors, HTML editors, Desktop Publishers, and a ten-week grammar lab. Participants must earn a pass (C-) or better in each course.
3. University of Wisconsin Eau Claire
Basic Certification in Technical Writing
The University of Wisconsin Eau Claire’s Basic Certification in Technical Writing is in its 15th year. The certificate comprises 3 courses – Introduction, Intermediate, and Advanced – and 90 hours of coursework.
Students must complete the program within the timeframe noted upon signing up, though for a fee extensions are possible.
The certificate focuses on helping individuals:
- Enhance technical language and communication skills
- Prepare for teaching professional communication
- Prepare and execute training in their companies
- Advance in a variety of technical communication-related positions
4. Society for Technical Communicators
Certified Professional Technical Communicator (CPTC)
The Society for Technical Communication (STC) is the world’s oldest association dedicated solely to technical communication. Their Certified Professional Technical Communicator provides a three-tiered certification program for technical writers of all skill levels. Applicants can choose from:
Each certification level requires participants to pass a test. Foundation certificants gain knowledge of the following subject areas:
- Project Planning
- Project Analysis
- Content Development
- Organizational Design
- Written Communication
- Visual Communication
- Reviewing and Editing
- Content Management
- Production Delivery
Cost: Professional and Academic memberships from $225
5. Oregon State University
Online Technical Writing Certificate
Oregon State offers a multi-course online technical writing certificate. A series of six courses, the program can help technical writers already in the industry to advance their writing abilities, as well as give aspiring tech writers the knowledge and skills to succeed. Students can take any course individually or all for the full certificate.
In addition to a free intro to technical writing, the certificate includes these courses:
- Manuals: Instructions and Overviews
- Technical Editing and Report Writing
- Single-Sourcing and Methodology
- Usability and UX Design
- Technical Writing and Portfolio Creation
Cost: $2,125 or $425 per course
Udemy is an online course provider and learning marketplace. It offers tons of courses at prices that are sure to please your wallet. Most cost between $19.99 and $199, making Udemy the most budget-friendly option on this list. Courses are taught by real instructors or professionals in the field, and you’ll get a certificate of completion when you finish.
A sample of Udemy courses includes:
- Professional Technical Writing: Advancing Your Writing Skills
- The New Trainer’s Guide to Creating End-User Documentation
- A Quick Start to Technical Writing with DITA
Cost: $19.99 +
How to Choose the Right Technical Writing Certification for You
Choosing the right technical writing certification involves careful analysis of many different factors.
There are multiple pathways in the field of technical writing. You’ll need to determine whether you’re looking to write for science, tech, the medical industry, or another specialization. Furthermore, if you’re looking to change careers, you may need a degree or higher-order certification. If you’re already established in your industry, there are tons of technical writing certifications. Or you may just need a course here and there to freshen up your credentials.
Most technical writing certifications fully take place online. You’ll need a reliable device and stable access to the internet and learning platform.
Certificate vs. Certification
Be careful. Certificates and certifications may not carry the same weight. A certificate can often be awarded by simply attending a class. Certifications are often earned through rigorous assessment and evaluation. Carefully analyze what you need to meet your goals.
Technical writing courses vary greatly in cost. You can pick up courses from online platforms for under $100, while certifications from academic institutions can cost thousands. Consider your personal and career objectives so you can gain an idea of what you need to spend to reach your goals.
It’s also worth inquiring whether your employer may help foot the bill for the course fees. Many companies have a budget for professional development.
The Last Word
Carefully considering these factors, as well as thoroughly exploring each certification program above, should enable you to choose the program that best suits you. In this way, you can begin to not only hone your skills as a technical writer, but advance in your career, as well.