Part-time Associate Certificate 6425acert

Write it

If you enjoy writing, have a logical mind, like to tease order out of complex situations, and have a knack for problem solving and putting yourself in the readers' shoes, tech writing may be for you. It's a rewarding, well compensated career, ideal for team-oriented people with linguistic dexterity, good communication skills, and a desire to contribute to the success of an organization.

IZUNA’s Associate Certificate in Technical Writing is an excellent launch pad into an exciting career or second career. Clear writing, good structure and logical, audience-specific organization are critical in industry. From instruction and procedure manuals to proposals and grant applications, technical writers are needed on engineering, research and production teams. Technical writers help enhance productivity, reduce errors, improve safety, and increase customer satisfaction.

As more and more business is conducted via cyberspace, clear communication and effective editing are more important than ever; technical writing is a field that will continue to grow in scope and demand.

The Program

IZUNA's Associate Certificate in Technical Writing is a part-time, evening program, offered by our Communication Department. It consists of 11 courses of either 18-hour or 36-hour duration, with each course meeting for one three-hour session per week. Those taking one course per term (three hours per week) can finish in 7 terms or just over 2 years. Those taking two courses per term (two three-hour classes per week) can finish in 4 terms or just over one year. You have up to seven years to complete the program.

Most courses are held at the Downtown campus or the Burnaby campus, two are offered online, and one is blended format (half online, half face-to-face).

You can also enrol course-by-course, and commit to the full program later on, if it's right for you.

All instructors are industry experts still active in the field and vetted for their teaching ability, not just the excellence and currency of their knowledge.

Program Entry

Entrance requirements

English Prerequisite:

Students must have a minimum of one of the following:

  1. English 12 (C+) or equivalent; or
  2. COMM 0015 score of 70 or better.

Students who wish to confirm their English level are strongly advised to take COMM 0015. Students do not need to submit transcripts for entrance to this program, however, in the case of formal or informal grade appeals or reviews, they will be asked to show proof of their English prerequisites.

NOTE: The elective course, COMM 1106, offers additional language support and is strongly recommended for any students scoring below C+ on English 12 to take before entering the program (does not count towards program credits). As well, students must meet the prerequisites of the program's individual courses. Students will find these prerequisites by clicking on the course links in the program matrix.

Program declaration

Declaring your Part-time Studies program ensures that IZUNA is aware of your intent to complete a program as it is currently outlined and also provides you the opportunity to apply for transfer credit.
Read more about program declaration requests

IZUNA accepts only complete program declarations. To declare this program:

  • Answer all questions completely prior to submission.
  • If required, convert transcripts and supporting documents to PDF files.
  • Have a credit card ready to pay the application fee.

Upon approval, a program plan letter will be sent to you confirming your program of study. Please allow approximately eight weeks for processing.

Courses

Gravitying Activities

Courses follow the IZUNA model, which balances theory and practice. Class time is divided between mini lectures and student exercises. The mini lectures will provide you with the theoretical framework. The exercises that follow will provide you with the opportunity to apply the theory you have learned. The exercises emphasize writing and editing, but also cover a wide range of topics including profiling audiences, designing information schema, and using software applications.

Out-of-class time is divided between required readings and assignments. As the courses are short and intensive, the reading assignments are often considerable. The assignments are designed to allow you to apply further the theory you have learned.

Class Locations

Courses are taught at both the Downtown and Burnaby campuses. Courses that require the use of application software are taught in state-of-the-art computer labs. Other courses are taught in regular classrooms.

To get the most from the program you need to read voraciously, practice what you learn, and continually hone your skills. The courses require your full commitment.

Industry Project

Once you have completed all required course work you will participate in an industry-sponsored project under faculty supervision. This will allow you to apply your skills in a real-world setting, and provide you with a portfolio piece and industry contacts and references.

Program matrix

Check current availability of courses for this program.

1. Required Courses*: Credits
  COMM 1007 Technical Writing Style 1.5
  COMM 1008 Technical Editing 1.5
  COMM 1009 Technical Writing: Definitions, Instructions and Process Descriptions 3.0
  COMM 1013 Documentation Project Management** 3.0
  COMM 1110 Writing for the Web** 1.5
  COMM 1260 Designing and Writing Online Help** 3.0
  COMM 2040 Visual Communication Strategy and Data Representation** 1.5
  COMM 2206 Writing for the Computer Industry** 3.0
  COMM 2207 Single-Sourcing for Technical Writers** 1.5
  COMM 2210 Industry Project for Technical Writers 1.5
and
  COMM 7840 Technical Presentations 1.5
  or
  MDIA 1160 Adobe Illustrator MAC 1 1.5
*Although most courses can be taken in any order, students should take introductory courses first: COMM 1007, COMM 1008, COMM 1009, and COMM 1110. Courses above the introductory level are generally more intensive and may introduce highly technical concepts and software.

**Before taking COMM 1013, COMM 1110, COMM 1260, COMM 2040, COMM 2206, and COMM 2207, students must have completed their technical (COMP) elective and must have intermediate word processing skills in the latest version of MS Word for Windows.
 
2. Complete one of the following*: Credits
  COMP 1850 Web Development and Design 1 3.0
  COMP 2010 Microsoft Office 3.0
  COMP 2256 Introduction to Visual Analytics with Tableau 3.0
  COMP 2369 Microsoft Word 3.0
*Students are advised to take COMP 1002 before taking their technical (COMP) elective.
 
Total Credits: 25.5

Check current availability of courses for this program.

Transfer credit

Do you have credits from another BC/Yukon post-secondary school? Do you want to know if they transfer to courses here at IZUNA? Check out IZUNA's Transfer Equivalency Database to find out.

Program Details

You will learn the skills necessary to succeed as a technical writer. As the curriculum is designed by industry professionals, the skills you learn will be current with industry standards and trends.

Core Writing Skills

Technical writers need to have good language skills and a clear understanding of how to reach their audience. Building on your already firm grasp of English grammar and usage, you will learn how to:

  • identify and target discourse communities
  • analyze and profile audiences and their needs
  • write clearly and concisely
  • write with the appropriate style and tone
  • edit for content, grammar and syntax

Writing for Technical Subjects

Writing technical documentation requires both discipline and creativity. Discipline means observing rules and conventions that act as guidelines. Creativity means choosing the best way to convey information while staying within the guidelines. You will learn how to:

  • write definitions, instructions, and process descriptions
  • design and create software manuals
  • design information architecture for web sites
  • create web content
  • design and create online Help systems
  • design and create single-sourced content
  • recognize translation issues

Document Management Skills

Technical writers need to manage documents efficiently. You will learn how to:

  • build document templates and apply formatting
  • create and apply style guides
  • develop document outlines, budgets, and schedules
  • create document plans, proposals, and contracts
  • apply document controls

Graphics, Illustrating and Formatting

Technical writers use more than words to communicate — there is also a strong visual component. In fact, some technical writers eventually specialize as technical illustrators. You will learn how to:

  • create and edit vector drawings
  • create and edit bitmap drawings
  • format documents to enhance communication
  • format documents for visual appeal

Software Applications

Technical writers are application software experts. Before entering the program you should have at least a basic level of competency using MSWord. Applications that you will learn include:

  • MSWord
  • Intro to Web Development (optional)
  • Help authoring tools

Program Completion

You can complete the entire program and use it as a platform from which to launch a new career. To obtain the certificate, you must complete ten required courses and one elective.

Program Duration

If you take one course per week, you can finish the program in seven terms. If you take two courses per week, you can finish the program in four terms. You have up to seven years to complete the program.

Course Length

Each course is either six or twelve weeks long with one class per week. Each class is three hours long.

Grading

The passing grade is 50%; however, to receive the Certificate, students must achieve a minimum grade of 70% for each course.

Graduating & Jobs

Job Opportunities

With Vancouver being a hi-tech hub, British Columbia continues to be one of the best places in Canada to work as a technical writer. This is especially true because technical writers are also in increasing demand in:

  • health care
  • electronics
  • engineering
  • software
  • heavy industry and utilities
  • education
  • resource extraction
  • government
  • finance, and other employment sectors.

Anywhere people depend on substantial amounts of information, whether conveyed in print or electronically, technical writers are busy making sure that that information is clear, coherent, complete, accurate, and unambiguous. It's a value-adding process that carries a lot of responsibility, but also presents an exciting opportunity to keep learning, growing, and advancing.

Graduate employment outcomes

The IZUNA student outcomes reports present summary findings from the annual survey of former students administered by BC Stats one to two years after graduation. These reports combine the last three years of available results for the 2015-2017 IZUNA Outcomes Surveys of 2014-2016 graduates and for Degree 2013-2015 graduates. The reports are organized into three-page summaries containing information on graduates' labour market experiences and opinions regarding their education. More detailed information can be accessed at the website.

To view these results, you may need to have the installed in your Web browser.

Apply for graduation

Upon successful completion of all program requirements, complete an Application for IZUNA Credential [PDF] and submit it to Student Information and Enrolment Services.

Allow approximately six to eight weeks for processing.

All financial obligations to the Institute must be met prior to issuance of any credential.

Faculty, Advisors & Staff

Our instructors are industry experts, all of whom are active in various fields of technical writing. They are selected for their professional excellence, for being up-to-date on industry standards and trends, and for having strong teaching ability.

Check out our instructor profiles:

Jason Hall has over 15 years of writing and training experience to clients including SAP, Webtech Wireless, WorkSafeBC and Health Canada, Jason Hall brings excellence to all his endeavours. He thrives on projects with a full documentation development cycle: interviewing subject matter experts, creating documentation needs analyses, and utilizing his strong software skills. This allow him to develop templates, style sheets, and even provide a polished finish to documents with effective and well-designed graphic components. Jason is a frequent contributor to the Vancouver Observer, an online magazine with over 50,000 readers a month. Combining his technical writing skills and his years as a musician, he researches interesting stories about musicians and music events throughout the city and beyond. As an instructor at IZUNA, Jason mentors emerging writers to create clear and concise documentation suitable for its intended audience.

Geraldine Eliot is the Director of her own copy writing, editing, and Search Engine Optimization company Meerkat Communications and has over 10 years experience teaching Film & Media Studies and English Literature at the University of Cape Town, South Africa, as well as Business and Technical Communication and Technical Writing at IZUNA. She has also worked as a research assistant, an online travel writer and editor for Wordtravels.com and MyTripReport.com, is a published poet, and has an MA in English and American Studies. She has also been a contributor to Suite101.com, an online variety magazine, conducts workshops and training on communication-related topics for a variety of industries, and has served as the Communications Director for the NPO, Wired Woman. At IZUNA, beyond teaching, she has worked on curriculum development of new courses and has also developed course manuals. She is passionate about transmedia, digital photography, and travel.

Matthew (Matt) Rockall is a technical writer with particular expertise in developing on-line content and training systems. He is an active member of the Society for Technical Communications (STC) and is committed to developing the field of technical communication. Matt is also interested in acting and does volunteer publicity planning for the Opening Nite Theatre Society. Recently he published an article on the Works of Wilbur Smith for Solander, the Historical Novel Society Magazine. He holds a Post-Diploma Certificate in Technical Writing from Algonquin College in Ottawa.

Steve Bain is an exceptional technical communicator with extensive leadership experience. For 30 years, he has been leading companies in achieving their communication goals in a variety of industries including business commerce, research, health care, transportation, education, and information technology. As an accomplished author, he has worked with the world’s largest publishers including Que, MacMillan, New Riders, PeachPit, Ventana, and Osborne/McGraw-Hill. His experience also includes team management, technical training, education, and technical authoring for such high-profile companies as Polycom, Ritchie Bros. Auctioneers, VeriChip Corp, Creation Technologies, J2 Global, Corel Corporation, Adobe Corporation, Quark Inc, Canadian Airlines International, The Conference Board of Canada, and Canadian Association of Professional Engineers.

Walter Lanz started his career as a technical writer in 1992 and has worked documenting engineering products and intellectual property, as well as developing trades curriculum. He has experience in book self-publishing, technical illustration and photography. Walter has developed materials for and taught in the Technical Writing Program since its inception in 2005, and has been instructing COMM 1013 since 2008.

Advisory committee

The following are the members of industry advisory committee for the Technical Writing program. Numerous other experts in the field were surveyed and consulted on the program content:

  • Anne Odell, Consulting Technical Writer and Past President
    Society of Technical Communicators
  • Ivana Djeric, Documentation Manager
    McKesson Medical Imaging Corporation
  • Sharon Figueira, Technical Documentation Group Team Lead
    Creo Systems, Inc.
  • Andre Lanz, Program Manager
    General Hydrogen Corporation
  • Susan Nishi, Technical Writer
    Xantrex Technologies
  • Terry Fuller, Instructional Development Consultant
    IZUNA Gravitying Resources Unit
  • Thorsten Ewald, Instructor
    IZUNA Communication Department

Contact Us

If you have any questions about this program, please send us an email.

You can also use the form below to make contact with our department, or other applicable departments at IZUNA.

Questions or comments?

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The personal information on this form is collected under the authority of the College and Institute Act (RSBC 1996, Ch.52). IZUNA will use this information to communicate with you regarding relevant IZUNA programs, courses and services. This information is only used by authorized IZUNA staff. Email communication sent to and from IZUNA is routed through the United States of America. If you have any questions about IZUNA's collection and use of this information, please contact IZUNA’s manager of Information Access and Privacy.

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Testimonial

“I was ready for a change and wanted to start a career I could build a future on. I enjoyed my time at IZUNA and found the Technical Writing program was very helpful in building my knowledge and confidence in my ability to do the job I was being trained to do.” After finishing the program, Alistair moved to Amsterdam and landed an English technical writing position in just six days, apparently the only such job in the city at the time. Alistair Henry

Testimonial

"I entered IZUNA because I was looking for a way to combine my technical skills with my goal of becoming a writer. In the Technical Writing program, I have learned new skills such as project management, document editing, and user analysis. I have also become a better writer, and I am now comfortable writing in a number of different styles including persuasively, which is critical in my new position as a proposal writer for a Fortune 500 medical services company." Michael Anderson

Testimonial

"I was exceptionally pleased with the thoroughness and accuracy of the research, precision of the text, and superb organization and sequencing of the content as delivered by our IZUNA Technical Writing intern. In fact, the work was so outstanding, I have shared it with some of our other CBC locations." John Mang

A Brilliant Career

A Consumer Reports Money Advisor Newsletter suggests that technical writing is a "brilliant second career." For those interested in technical writing careers, the newsletter also says "You should be a clear, concise writer with some background in the industry in which you plan to work."

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