Top 5 Online Technical Writing Courses For Beginners
Technology is very complicated yet very necessary in the digital age we are living in now and to decode it usages comes technical writer. Today we will discuss 5 technical writing courses to begin your journey also what, why, and how of technical writing so that you are assured of your decision to become a technical writer.
What is Technical Writing?
Technical Writing is a skill of communicating complex details, information, and processes into easy-to-understand and implement steps for achieving a goal or objective by the end-users.
Example: When you wake up in the morning what is the first thing you spend the most time with, your phone. Smartphone or Android phone has become a necessity for mankind. We cannot imagine our lives without it. Do you know from the time mobile phone software is developed to its usage by end-users to repair and maintenance everything has a guide and manual for its smooth operation at each level and that is prepared by a person? That is a technical writer.
Today we are surrounded by so many technologies around us from our alarm watch to packaged food we eat they all have been developed using some techniques and thus technical writing comes into the frame. So next time you use a product and it makes your daily life easy thanks to him.
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Who is a Technical writer and what he does?
A technical writer is a communicator who can understand tech language and then write it in easy-to-implement steps for the end-users. Either he is involved in working on technology or he gets the details from the person who is involved in the making of it, in a concise clear, and error-free way.
Technical writers do a few or all of the following tasks:
- Explore products and find any other data required to become an expert about the product.
- Held interviews and meet with the developer of a product and service either regularly or when required to get their queries resolved and enhance their learning about the product.
- Creating instructions on software applications and hardware product usage.
- Explaining technical concepts more clearly with the help of illustrations, diagrams, and other visuals created by him.
- Video tutorials on technical product usage are recorded by him.
- To give honest feedback from various sources to product teams so that product improvement can be undertaken by teams.
- Creating e-learning courses.
- Preparing how-to-articles for end-users for better adaption of technical products.
So, a Technical writer is just like your best friend. The latter solves your life issues and the former your technical problems and queries and saves you from any mishap.
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Why do you want to pursue technical writing?
Till now you have a basic idea of what technical writing is and what tech writers do. You landed on this article to read it so; I guess you are either of two persons:
- One who is from a technical background and wants to explore this field or either found it what you always wanted to do or;
- One who is from a non-technical background and wants to try it or find it more monetarily rewarding than other writing you do.
Even if you are here just for getting a basic idea of the field your queries and worries will be solved.
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Anybody could be a good technical writer but for being a successful one you should know “WHY” you wanted to do it in the first place. Because as you move higher in your career ladder you have to keep updating yourself and keep learning and if your ‘WHY’ is weak you might just be left behind than others. How will you bring clarity to paper when you don’t have clarity of your purpose?
If you have complete clarity on you why you can skip this part and move on to the main part but if you have the slightest of doubt, I will urge you to just have read to this part also.
So, in the next 3 steps, we will know whether this is for you or not. The first step is easy to follow the other two require work and patience. So be ready.
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1)You are going to be a good tech writer if you possess any of the below qualities:
- Good at problem-solving
- Patient ( if you face any technical problem, you don’t lose your calm)
- A gadget lover
- You are interested in interviewing and talking to people
- Love for writing and language
- Interested in figuring out how things work (you don’t get sound sleep till you figure out about the thing)
- You have a taste for layout, design, and visuals.
From the first step, many of you might have figured out somewhat about your personality traits that are required for being a tech writer. In the next 2 steps, you will be clear by performing actions.
2) Spend ‘A Day in the life of tech writer’ how? By attending webinars, seminars, watching videos on YouTube, reading articles, listening to podcast on how their lives are and how they spend their time. Here are some recommendations:
- Blog by Tom Johnson – I’d rather be writing ( he is recording his journey from 2006 in form of blogs and sharing his views and useful advice on how you too can be a tech writer)
- Podcast – 10 Minute Tech Comm (many tech writers talk of new technology and their experiences in this field)
- Reddit – Article on technical writing
3) Do you see yourself doing the same job for the next 10 years? Same job, every day for 10 years think about it.
This step is for technical people who are well versed with technology to take a project of technical writing either in a non-profit organization or an open-source project and find out whether you like the process or not.
What kind, of course, you are looking for? Why?
There are 5 categories in which technical writing could be divided. Based on that, you should decide what technical writing courses you should go for and why?
- Technical knowledge
- Writing skills
- Technical tools
- Collaboration skills
- Communication skills
Enhancing your tech knowledge and improvement in each of the skills will make you a perfect candidate for a tech writer.
Tech writing is 90% about technology and 10% about writing. They both together make 100%. They both are complementary to each other. You should have in-depth knowledge about the technology, for that first selects the technology you want to work on, be as specific as you could get if you want to do work on software than which one.
Knowledge part has to be done by you by learning about a specific technology you want to write about you can shift to other with time but in starting I would advise to pick one and read and educate yourself on that technology.
Then comes why?
WHY? You want to do the technical writing courses:
- To gain knowledge and enhance your skills then you should go for it
- Or to gain certificates then don’t do it.
Recruiter looks for 3 things in a candidate:
- Technical writing skills
- Your experience matches with job requirement
- Interview ( how well you performed on that particular day)
Even if you have a certificate of best technical writing courses and you are not able to transfer that knowledge to gain experience and thus build your portfolio the certificate is of no use. Because the recruiter is interested in how you put what you learn into practical work.
So first go and learn the technology you want to write for and after that go for technical writing courses that will help you to enhance your skill and knowledge.
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Top 5 Technical Writing Courses:
1)Google technical writing course
Whenever we talk of a technical company Google’s name pop on the top 10. Google is a giant name when it comes to search engines there is no competition for it. It is also a big name when it comes to educating its employees or making the same resources available to the public. One such example of the same is this technical writing course.
This course assumes that you have prior knowledge of the technical part as it is for engineers and computer science students. But anybody can access the course after working on your tech part or even you can start it simultaneously while learning technology.
It is one of the best technical writing courses (online) if you want to learn the basics of writing a tech document or improving your writing skills.
Course fees: Free
Time to commit: 4-6 weeks (you can learn at your pace)
What the course is about?
- writing the technical documents and reports
- The course is divided into two parts. The first part is about getting your basics of writing technical documents right. The second part is more about efficiently presenting the document and organizing.
- The course has pre-class and in-class access. For non-technical students, I will suggest going for pre-class as it will clear all your doubts regarding writing a good document.
As the in-class part is like classroom learning you will interact with your fellow mates and facilitator and prior knowledge of technology will be important.
What you will learn from the course?
- How to choose words turn them into sentences and then into paragraphs.
- You will learn the tool Markdown.
- How to insert graphics and organizing of documents to make them look presentable.
- How to present a concise, error-free document.
Apart from this, you must view the following two:
- Google developer documentation style guide
- Divio’s documentation framework
The former will give you in-depth knowledge of how to prepare your documents and the latter will help in explaining different types of documents, their purposes, and techniques.
What should be your approach?
- To get the best out of this course prepare a technical document and use the information given and as you go to prepare your final draft use more and more information.
- Prepare a few more documents and gradually include more points in the next document.
- This way you will learn and will prepare some good documents to show in your portfolio for your job.
Once you become well versed with your technical knowledge and writing skills. I will suggest taking the next few courses so that you have a competitive edge over others.
2) Zero to mastery academy
Founder ‘AndrieNeagie’ a senior software developer formed this academy to teach students software development skills and lead them to better job prospects in big tech companies. The demand for a software developer along with good writing skills is on the rise these days. It should be on your technical writing courses list.
Course fees (Any): Monthly $22 (if you join now)
Time to commit- Depends on course to course.
What the site is about?
- Number of software development courses (namely coding)
- Building network
What you will learn?
- Courses range from beginner to advance level so you can excel in your skills as you learn more all in one place.
- You will interact with some best developers and can take part in events, workshops and be part of a bigger community.
- You will keep getting new courses from time to time so don’t worry you will have plenty of options.
What should be your approach?
- Take a course of your choice and learn it every day set a time aside for it.
- Have a clear deadline to finish the course on time.
- After learning the course use the skill and prepare a technical document (use your writing skills learn above)
- Get yourself an open-source project from the site only or ask for an honest review of fellow developers on the site community.
3) API documentation – Tom Johnson
A senior technical writer for amazon ‘Tom Johnson is best known for his blog “I’d rather be writing” (as suggested above to read). The blog has one of the most followed tech communication communities.
The latest addition to this is the course “API Documentation”. API Documentation is one of the most demanded and paying jobs for anyone interested in technical writing.
For all those who don’t know what API is let me give you a quick idea to arise your interest in this. API is a way for two different systems to interact with each other. The best example for the same could be the internet that becomes our way to interact or connect with other applications.
We use it all the time but there are an application and documentation for the same that helps the developer and us to use it easily. This course must be on your top 3 list whenever you go for technical writing courses.
Course fees: FREE
Time to commit: 4-5 weeks (Average)
What the course is about?
- Basics of API
- A quick view of API technology
- API documentation process
- How to get an open-source project for the same
What you will learn?
- In-depth knowledge of API documentation
- How to put your knowledge into practice
- Learn to collaborate and communicate the same.
- The approach to learning this course is given in the course itself.
Additional tip: Follow his blog post too WHY?
- He keeps you updated on his take on the technology and how he is improving and learning more about it.
- You will learn about his thinking process or how a problem solver’s mind works.
4) Github (Udemy)
Udemy is one of the best when it comes to providing a variety of courses on different topics at affordable prices.
Github is a tool that I guess non-engineers should learn. Github is a project management tool. It shows the firm that you can handle technological products efficiently. So to all non-engineers go for this technical writing course and impress your recruiters.
Course fees: Rs. 455 (discounted price now)
Time took: 6.5 hours (to learn)
What the course is about?
- Introduction to GIT and Github.
- How to set up and control it.
- Some more bonuses for you.
What you will learn?
- Key concepts of GIT from basics to advance
- The process and role
- How to manage files and share codes with gist’s
- How to resolve problems if you encounter them.
5) UX Writing – Skillshare
Skillshare is the best platform if you want to start your creative journey. It provides many courses for beginners to expert level to get a gist of basics and further to enhance your skills.
UX stands for user experience. Take for example a food app on your mobile the text written, the placement of icons it’s all carefully selected by a UX Writer. A technical writer’s job is to bridge a gap between the company’s products and the user’s needs. If you get skill in this you will better be able to understand users’ needs.
Course fees: Rs. 600 (monthly – any course on site)
The first month is free after signing up you can get 2 months free trial and after that you pay.
There are several courses on the site on this topic or related to this topic select the beginner one with the highest views and rating.
What you will learn?
- About UX
- It’s components
What should be your approach?
- Select a course that explains the basics and then move on to the one explaining components of UX writing.
- Prepare your project using the knowledge you gain and post on project upload space given to the students to share their skills acquired.
- You can ask questions from the instructor or follow their work on social media sites to keep you updated.
What more you should know?
This was last on my technical writing courses recommendation list but not the least. I’ll give a list of tools that you should learn to improve your documentation style. You don’t have to pay for them you can go and learn on Google, YouTube and download it for free or at a minimal cost.
Tools to learn:
- Help authoring tools – Jekyll, Madcap Flare, Doc-to-Help, Robohelp, and some others.
- Graphic tools – Microsoft Visio, photoshop, illustrator
- Screen capture tools – Camtasia studio, Snagit
- Page layout tool – InDesign, Word Framework.
Also, the above technical writing courses will help you to build a network and portfolio of the skills in the subject you are acquiring knowledge of. For a more general technical community go to LinkedIn and Facebook tech communities. You will get the latest update on various topics. To name a few tech communities we have:
- Technical writers India (TWIN)
- Society for Technical Communication India
- Technical writers jobs
The DO’S and DON’T while selecting technical writing courses:
- First, make sure you need a technical writing course and be specific about the type, of course, you are looking for.
- Don’t go for tool based course. You can find the material for free on the internet just search it.
- Look for the credential (reviews) of the site you are taking technical writing courses. In case it is a popular site then check the credential of the person offering the course.
- Crosscheck on Google or YouTube whether the same course is available there, if yes then don’t go for it.
- Select a course as per time and money available to you. Do not overcommit or go overboard for both things.
- Choose a course that will give a bundle of values to your time, money, and effort invested along with practical knowledge and feedback for your work.
At a time when most of the industries have shifted their routine paperwork to digital platforms the demand for new technologies and their communicator has increased. The purpose of this post was to make sure you take the first step in the right direction and your foundation is strong. So you can build your career on it. The traditional job market is shrinking, and the modern job market requires a person with a modern perspective to tackle the problems of the present time. To meet the requirement, you have to keep adapting to the new environment and your foundation will decide that for you.