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Technical Communications. An Overview. Technical Communications. What is technical communication? Why should I care? How does technical communication relate to my job? How is technical communication different from other communication? What are characteristics of technical communication?

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technical communications2
Technical Communications
  • What is technical communication?
  • Why should I care?
  • How does technical communication relate to my job?
  • How is technical communication different from other communication?
  • What are characteristics of technical communication?
  • What jobs are available to those with technical communications skill?
  • What industries hire individuals with technical communications skill?
what is technical communication
What is Technical Communication?
  • Applied communication designed to accomplish specific tasks or to help solve problems, such as:
    • Informing users about an update in computer software
    • Instructing assembly line workers to produce a new product
    • Warning customers about unsafe ways to operate a machine
    • Instructing buyers how to assemble a bicycle
what is technical communication4
What is Technical Communication?
  • Communication that conveys complex information in an easy-to-understand manner, often to inexperienced users, on topics such as:
    • Repairing a copy machine
    • Selecting a home computer
    • Operating a digital camera
    • Creating handmade ceramics
    • Assembling a kite
what is technical communication5
What is Technical Communication?
  • Technical communication exists in many forms:
    • User manuals
    • Training materials
    • Videotapes
    • Satellite broadcasts
    • Workshop outlines and handouts
    • Reports
    • Interviews
    • Persuasive speeches
why should i care
Why Should I Care?
  • Even if you don’t plan to become a professional communicator, you will be, or already are, a technical professional who communicates!
  • Studies show that 44% of your professional time will be spent in some kind of writing activity, including:
    • Brainstorming
    • Notetaking
    • Organizational planning
    • Drafting, revising and editing
why should i care7
Why Should I Care?
  • The California Employment Development Department expects the number of technical writing jobs to grow 23.3% between 2002 and 2012
  • Whatever your particular technical profession, you will spend a significant part of your time communicating, even more than you spend in school
why should i care8
Why Should I Care?
  • Technical communication skills can be used in a variety of fields
    • Journalism
    • Marketing
    • Business Management
    • Administration
    • Software Engineering
    • Education
    • Biotech/Pharmaceuticals
how does it relate to my job
How Does It Relate to My Job?
  • Engineers are often responsible for writing feasibility studies for such technological changes as:
    • New buildings
    • Electrical systems
    • Computer networks
how does it relate to my job10
How Does it Relate to My Job?
  • If your goal is to manage the technical products division of an industrial corporation, you will use:
    • Written specifications
    • Lectures
    • Videotapes
  • These items will then teach:
    • Technicians to install products
    • Sales people to sell products
    • Customers to use and adapt those products
how is technical communication different from other communication
How Is Technical Communication different from other Communication?
  • Technical communication emphasizes conveying information so it can be understood quickly/easily
  • It differs from other types of communication in its emphasis on clarity, accuracy, conciseness, consistency, readability, and usability
  • Technical communication is usually put to some use rather than enjoyed for its own sake
    • Individual voice, poetic expression, and metaphorical language are generally de-emphasized, discouraged, or entirely eliminated
    • The purpose of communication is to instruct, not showcase the beauty of language or impress with extensive vocabulary
  • Technical communication explains how to accomplish a variety of tasks, some extremely dangerous with grave consequences for mistakes
how is technical communication different from other communication12
How Is Technical Communication different from other Communication?
  • Technical communication is a collaborative effort, unlike most other types of writing
    • Various individuals work together to create one technical document:
      • writers
      • editors
      • technical experts
      • graphic artists
    • You can rarely claim full authorship of any document
    • The company’s name, rather than yours, usually appears on the final product
how is technical communication different from other communication13
How Is Technical Communication different from other Communication?
  • Technical communication represents a company’s image, brand, practices, and goals
  • The manner of communication accomplishes several purposes:
    • Conveys how a company is perceived
    • Conveys a generally accepted image of what a company "stands for"
    • Suggests a mental picture to the public
    • Reinforces the company’s brand image or equity in the marketplace
what are characteristics of technical communication
What are Characteristics of Technical Communication?
  • Reader-Based Orientation
  • Focus on Subject
  • Corporate Representation
  • Collaboration
  • Style
  • Organization
  • Visual Display
characteristics include
Characteristics include…
  • Reader-Based Orientation
    • Write and design NOT from the point of view of what you know, but from what inexperienced users NEED to know
  • Focus on Subject
    • The main subject or topic determines the kind of information you write and the form it takes
      • Focus on subject because your purpose is to instruct or describe rather than to evoke images or emotions
characteristics include16
Characteristics include…
  • Corporate Representation
    • When you create documents at work, you create them as a representative of the company that hired you
    • Communication within some companies must reflect corporate images and philosophy in regards to safety, outreach to the public, environmental awareness, etc.
    • You must follow the company style guide consistently and precisely
characteristics include17
Characteristics include…
  • Collaboration
    • Different people possess different skills, education, experience, or special knowledge
    • The most effective documents are often produced by collaborative groups or teams
      • For example, a computer manual might require input from:
        • Software developer
        • Systems analyst
        • Technical communicator
        • Document manager
        • Graphics specialist
    • One person cannot know it all!
characteristics include18
Characteristics include…
  • Style
    • Use terminology, language, and organization the reader can understand and readily identify with.
    • Communicate directly, personally and in a complete, no-nonsense manner
    • Avoid being overly formal and distant from your reader
      • Use “you” to talk to the reader rather than writing in passive voice
    • Your document should be “task-oriented” to help the reader do something, rather than merely descriptive
    • Follow the company style guide in every detail to ensure consistency of voice, style, and conventions
characteristics include19
Characteristics include…
  • Organization
    • Use deductive organization – reveal your conclusions up front and then demonstrate how you reached them
    • Give readers a preview of what’s to come so they can scan a document quickly to get the information they need
    • Present information in a way that will be logical to a beginner.
      • Break the whole into parts
      • Separate out tasks the user must do chronologically
characteristics include20
Characteristics include…
  • Visual Display
    • Readers rely on visual cues to process information
      • Use visual displays to group information into different units
        • Groups are often separated by white space, bullets or numbers
      • Use visual displays to order groups hierarchically to convey order and importance
      • Filter information by differences and similarities
        • Readers will visually abstract the purpose of the elements in a document based on its relationship to the entire document
what jobs are available to those with technical communications skill
What jobs are available to those with technical communications skill?
  • Summary of Technical Writing Opportunities
    • Jobs are not industry specific
      • One job fits many industries
      • Many industries use the same skills
    • Multi-Industry Positions
      • Copy writer, marketer
      • Web content writer
      • Technical editor
      • Grant writer

21

what jobs are available to those with technical communications skill22
What jobs are available to those with technical communications skill?
  • Multi-Industry Writing Skills
    • Business plans
    • Proposals
    • Progress reports
    • Instructions
    • User’s guides
    • Organizational policies and procedures
    • Abstracts
    • Oral presentations

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what industries hire individuals with technical communications skill
What industries hire individuals with technical communications skill?
  • High-tech
    • Examples of high-tech writing jobs
      • Technical director or supervisor
      • Technical writer
      • Technical editor
      • Technical translator
      • Marcomm
    • Duties could include
      • Develop standard documentation methods
      • Create and/or edit user guides or marketing materials
      • Oversee internal processes and documentation
      • Administer overall goals and policies for TWRT department

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what industries hire individuals with technical communications skill24
What industries hire individuals with technical communications skill?
  • Previous experience writers may need
    • Software programming languages
    • Publishing software applications
    • Hardware expertise
    • Graphic design
    • Desktop publishing
  • Average compensation for high-tech technical writing positions
    • $55,444-$141,799

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what industries hire individuals with technical communications skill25
What industries hire individuals with technical communications skill?
  • Aerospace and Defense
    • Examples of aerospace and defense jobs
      • Contract and RFP writer
      • Reporter and analyst
      • Grant writer
      • Technical writer
    • Duties could include
      • Writing manuals and procedures
      • Acquiring contracts
      • Scheduling
      • Documenting research and test findings

25

what industries hire individuals with technical communications skill26
What industries hire individuals with technical communications skill?
  • Examples of aerospace and defense industries
    • Commercial aviation
      • Boeing Co.
    • Defense
      • NASA
      • Raytheon
      • Halliburton
      • Lockheed Martin
  • Average compensation for aerospace and defense technical writers
    • Average salary or staff position
      • $57,000-$90,000

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what industries hire individuals with technical communications skill27
What industries hire individuals with technical communications skill?
  • Pharmaceutical and biotech
    • Examples of pharmaceutical and biotech jobs
      • Product development
      • Clinical trial writer
    • Duties could include
      • Document quality control procedures
      • Develop and document procedures for FDS regulatory compliance
      • Develop and document facilities management and manufacturing processes

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what industries hire individuals with technical communications skill28
What industries hire individuals with technical communications skill?
  • Previous experience writers may need
    • Medical or scientific research
    • Lab procedures
    • Pharmaceutical manufacturing
  • Average compensation for pharmaceutical and biotech writers
    • Average salary for staff position
      • $53,000-$90,000
    • Average payment for freelance positions
      • $35-$100+/hour

28

what industries hire individuals with technical communications skill29
What industries hire individuals with technical communications skill?
  • Media Jobs
    • Examples of media jobs
      • Editors
      • Journalists, news reporters, and correspondents
      • Advertising, marketing, and public relations specialists
      • Web designers
    • Duties could include
      • Generating stories and leads
      • Editing articles, scripts, and other copy
      • Maintaining strategic relationships through written communication
      • Planning the aesthetics of a magazine spread or Webpage
what industries hire individuals with technical communications skill30
What industries hire individuals with technical communications skill?
  • Average compensation for media jobs
    • Communications editor
      • $64,000
    • Journalists, news reporters, and correspondents
      • From $39,000-$63,000
    • Advertising, marketing, and public relations specialists
      • From $60,000-$96,000
    • Web designers
      • $80,000
what industries hire individuals with technical communications skill31
What industries hire individuals with technical communications skill?
  • Agriculture
    • Examples of agriculture jobs
      • Technical background reports writer
      • RFP writer
      • Statistics analysis writer
    • Duties could include
      • Documenting procedures and practices
      • Writing technical manuals for equipment
      • Developing quality standards to government specifications

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what industries hire individuals with technical communications skill32
What industries hire individuals with technical communications skill?
  • Agriculture industry facts
    • Agriculture is the world’s largest industry
    • Agriculture industry makes up 40% of world labor force
    • Major players in the agriculture industry are:
      • US Government Department of Agriculture
      • Agribusiness firms like Archer Daniels Midland
      • Biotech organizations like Monsanto
  • Average compensation for agriculture technical writers
    • Average salary for staff position for private sector
      • $45,000-$88,000
    • Average salary for staff position for government job
      • $43,000-$93,000

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what industries hire individuals with technical communications skill33
What industries hire individuals with technical communications skill?
  • Administrative assistant
  • Online content writer
  • Event planner
  • Non-profit
    • Examples of non-profit jobs
      • Grant writers
      • Contract/budget analyst
      • Project coordinator
    • Duties could include
      • Writing internal management guides
      • Writing newsletters and press releases
      • Designing brochures and flyers
      • Writing case statements
      • Writing funder and board reports

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what industries hire individuals with technical communications skill34
What industries hire individuals with technical communications skill?
  • Average compensation for non-profit technical writers
    • Average salary for a staff position:
      • From $37,000 to $53,000
    • Average payment per freelance project
      • From $25-$35/hour to $60-$100+/hour
      • $2,000-$14,000+ per project
      • Percentage commission

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references for salary information
References for Salary Information

idealist.org

indeed.com and multiple job listing Websites

CIA World Fact Book

monster.com

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