Created by UCF Future Technical Communicators (FTC)
Getting Started in Tech Comm
Continue to learn about technical communication (tech comm), fields in tech comm, and getting started in tech comm, no matter your grade level.
What is Tech Comm?
Technical Communication is a field that aims to simplify jargon-heavy content into information that is straightforward to understand. The goal is for the reader to understand the information quickly and succinctly.Known previously as Technical Writing, Technical Communication now encompasses additional skills that have expanded into a technical writer's role. These skills are information design, UI/UX design, and instructional design. Technical Communication and Technical Writing have the same goals meaning that you can see them used interchangeably.Technical communicators can bring the clarity and organization needed in the documentation. Often when experts attempt to create external documentation for other audiences, it can be complex and confusing. Experts are in contact with their content daily, making it second nature the terms and jargon they use. If an expert does not explain a complex task, it can be a challenge for a beginner starting for the first time. Technical communicators consider their audience as their goal is to have the intended audience understand what it is they need to complete/understand a task.
Career Fields in Tech Comm
Now that you have a better understanding of what tech comm is all about, you might be wondering where technical communicators can work.
Some industries that require technical communication would be the engineering, aeronautical, and defense industry. Since we are near the Space Coast, there are a wide array of aerospace and engineering companies where you can work as a technical writer. Some of these companies will sound very familiar to you. Lockheed Martin, Space X, and L3Harris Technologies are all companies that need technical writers.Typical job responsibilities would include documenting operating, manufacturing, and engineering processes according to company best practices. Sometimes this documentation is used by other engineers within the company; most of the time though, the document is used by clients and end users of the product.
software and tech companies
Technical communicators are also in demand in software and tech companies such as Google, Microsoft, and Apple. These companies often need technical communicators to document processes in addition to creating user guides, instructional manuals, and training material. After all, someone has to explain to us, the end user, how the stuff works!To work in this field, it is encouraged to have a basic understanding of programming languages so you can better understand and communicate with developers and software engineers to create the necessary documentation.
Healthcare & Medicine: Technical communicators do not have to work in STEM fields. If you are interested in working in healthcare or medicine, there is a role for you there as a technical communicator. Technical writers in these fields often write pharmaceutical or regulatory documents, in addition to medical articles.Finance & Accounting Firms:
Deloitte and Grant Thorton are some examples of accounting firms that hire technical writers. Typical responsibilities include creating user manuals, training materials, and crafting documentation for software that is used internally within the company.
All in all, if you are passionate about writing and documentation, give technical communications some thought! Technical communication spans many industries, and there definitely will be an area that fits your interest. Whether it is STEM, healthcare, or finance, the possibilities are endless.
Getting Started in Tech Comm
Any Grade, Age, or Time
Independent Research: Take advantage of easy and free access to information on the internet. No matter when you start your tech comm path, there is information available to you about the field through online resources. Navigate the STC (Society for Technical Communication) website, watch YouTube videos, listen to podcasts, and read articles and blogs.
Middle School and High School
Classes and Clubs: Join writing and communication related classes or clubs. Many schools not only offer English courses, but also newspaper, yearbook, and creative writing.Reach out: Ask questions to teachers, counselors, or parents. Some of them might just know about the field themselves. Even if they don’t, it's likely that they will be enthusiastic to help.
General College Prep: Maintaining a good GPA, preparing for the SATs, and participating in clubs and volunteer work are all ways to prepare for college applications. Research colleges and universities that offer programs and majors related to technical communication.
After High School
Universities and Degree Fields: Tech comm can be sought through a number of colleges, universities, and degree fields (majors). At the University of Central Florida (UCF), tech comm is offered for both bachelor's and master's degrees. Other English tracks, such as literature and creative writing can still lead you to a career in tech comm. Additionally, many tech comm students also major or minor in STEM or related studies.Join Clubs/Organizations: Join FTC or the tech comm organization of your university. STC membership and certifications are also valuable.Internships/Work Experience: Seek help from the career center of your university. Or, network through mentorship programs and FTC/STC opportunities. Get your resume critiqued, practice for interviews, and apply for internships.
It all seems like a lot. However, these are steps that you will take over the span of years. Take things one step at a time, don't get intimidating by phrases like "technical," trust in yourself, and don’t be afraid of a challenge.
The Future of Technical Communicators (FTC) is an RSO at UCF, founded in 2000 by Erica Olmsted and Bob Whitley. In an effort to bring together technical communicators and those interested in the field, FTC makes it their mission to promote the importance and tools necessary to become a successful technical communicator. During our bi-weekly general body meetings, we invite guest speakers, hold workshops, and lead Tech Comm related discussions. We also partner with Society of Technical Communicators (STC) for meetings and promoting our joint mentorship program. Throughout the year, we also participate in events such as Otronicon Tech Expo and STC's annual summits!
Spark STEM Fest
at the Orlando Science Center
We hoped you enjoyed reading about Tech Comm! If you wanted to learn more about the profession, we have more information below!
SSF Tech Comm Presentation
Tech Comm Flyer by FTC
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