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(ARA) – Rapid technology advances are changing everything — from how we make phone calls to programming the washer to clean a load of clothes as energy efficiently as possible. Making the best use of those advances still relies on some "old school" communication skills, however.

Every new gadget comes with its own instruction manual, whether hard copy, online or both. That’s just one of the reasons technical communication is growing faster than the average for all professions, a projected 19.5 percent from 2006 to 2016.

In fact, technical writers and editors no longer fit the stereotype of people stuck in office cubicles translating complex scientific jargon into easily understandable sentences. New technologies have helped technical communication to grow far beyond that. Software that allows individuals to publish from a desktop, develop Web platforms and Web pages and manipulate graphics and images all fall within technical communication today.

For those interested in technical communication, the challenge can be finding a degree program that adequately prepares them for a career in the field. The diverse skill set needed due to the new technologies involved and the organizational and writing demands of such a position aren’t typically found in a single program.

However, institutions of higher learning are starting to address that need. DeVry University, for example, just launched a Bachelor of Science in Liberal Studies program that will give students a robust set of applied skills in one of three communication concentrations, including technical communication.

"Professional communication is a growing career opportunity in today’s economic environment," says Donna Rekau, dean of the College of Liberal Arts & Sciences at DeVry University. "This new curriculum focuses on pragmatic skills needed to take advantage of those opportunities."

Someone choosing this course of study can expect to learn how to create, manage and edit materials using both traditional print and electronic media. Tasks a technical writer and editor might be required to do include organizing material, maintaining records, standardizing information, reviewing and revising text, selecting and using visuals, studying drawings and arranging for publication and distribution of materials. Technical writers also prepare scientific, technical and medical reports, design operating and maintenance manuals, write instructions and develop promotional materials.

"The Bachelor of Science in Liberal Studies program provides a well-rounded education that develops critical-thinking and problem-solving skills which support careers in fields involving business and technical communication," says Rekau.

Students pursuing a bachelor’s degree can also benefit by finding a school that offers online classes. As more students have to work part-time to help pay for college, online classes offer some welcome flexibility, allowing students to fit academics into their schedule.

"We offer a variety of delivery formats which support degree completion within as few as three years," says Rekau.

Technology has made the world ever more interconnected. Technical communication skills help make those connections more meaningful, offering a career path that is rewarding on many levels.

For more information about DeVry University’s technical communication degree program, visit www.devry.edu.

Author: Andy Quayle

Andy was born in the Isle of Man and currently lives in Pittsburgh.
Known globally as a willing source for tech news and views, Andy takes great pride in consultation and education.

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