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Do Technical/Professional Writing (TPW) Programs Offer What Students Need for Their Start in the Workplace? A Comparison of Requirements in Program Curricula and Job Ads in Industry

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Purpose: This small-scale study investigates the skills and experiences most sought-after by recruiters and hiring managers in entry-level technical writers in the work place. The purpose is to learn whether academic programs offer the course work and opportunities students need. Additionally, I discuss job-ad requirements for entry-level technical writers in the workplace and compare technical/professional academic program offerings with those job-ad requirements.

Method: Recruiters and hiring managers were surveyed to learn their top priorities for skills and experiences. Data from job ads of three job boards was gathered and analyzed, and this data was compared to academic program requirements across the United States.

Results: While technical and professional writing programs are ever-changing and substantially different, there are similarities, and the programs seem to be preparing students well for the workplace.

Conclusion: Most programs require core courses that are similar in name and description and require additional study in an area of expertise or a minor. These core curricula align well to the requirements in entry-level job ads in the industry. More research is needed to learn the best ways students learn in university courses. Additionally, we need to investigate the consistency of internship requirements among programs and encourage industries to consider internship experience as legitimate industry experience.
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Keywords: ENTRY-LEVEL TECHNICAL WRITERS; JOB AD REQUIREMENTS; PROGRAM CURRICULA; TECHNICAL WRITING SKILLS

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: August 1, 2017

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  • Technical Communication, the Society's journal, publishes articles about the practical application of technical communication theory and serves as a common arena for discussion by practitioners. Technical Communication includes both quantitative and qualitative research while showcasing the work of some of the field's most noteworthy writers. Among its most popular features are the helpful book reviews. Technical Communication is published quarterly and is free with membership.
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