Technical Writing and Communication



Words Count
How do you translate jargon into actionable content? Whether you’re a seasoned technical writer or new to the field, you know that a new gadget or product is only as functional as its instructions. As online services and digital products grow more sophisticated, the demand for skilled technical writers is increasing. Our Technical Writing and Communications certificate offers the latest approaches to information architecture, business communications, and Web content management. Pick up skills course by course or declare candidacy for the certificate to add a UC credential to your resume.

100% Online
Not only will our courses prepare you to write for an online audience, our program is a great fit for working professionals because you can complete the entire certificate via our dynamic online learning platform.

Translatable Skills

Technical communicators are needed in virtually every industry, including aerospace, automotive, biotech, business, construction, engineering, financial services, healthcare, IT, pharmaceuticals, telecommunications and e-commerce.


"UCSC Extension has the greatest number of tech writing courses in the Bay Area.” –Scott Copeland

The Profession

Use Your Voice…Professionally

What’s the best way to make information digestible? Whenever a company launches a new product or service, they must teach their customers how to use them. Technical communicators write the instructions, manuals, and procedures that help you download software, assemble furniture or upgrade your cell phone. Our Technical Writing and Communications certificate will prepare you to communicate key information clearly and effectively, regardless of your industry.

Average Earnings

$69,850—Average median pay for technical writers (O*NET OnLine, 2016)
$104,780—Average pay for a technical writer in San Jose (US News & World Report, January 2018)

11 percent job projected growth from 2016 to 2026 (Bureau of Labor Statistics, October, 2017)

Employment growth will be driven by the continuing expansion of scientific and technical products by growth in Web-based product support. Job opportunities, especially for applicants with technical skills, are expected to be good. –Occupational Outlook, Bureau of Labor Statistics


“A lot of the skills I learned at Extension were very applicable to the work I do and have helped me a lot in my career.” –Dernie Hashemzadeh


Program Objectives

As a graduate of the Technical Writing and Communications certificate program, you’ll have the skills to:

  • Apply technical writing strategies to various types of technical information
  • Write test cases and work collaboratively on iterative development
  • Develop information and project plans for technical documentation
  • Understand human factors and the psychology of users
  • Decode information architecture and design


At UCSC Extension, courses are developed by program chairs and faculty according to the rigorous University of California standards and designed to meet the economic needs of each industry. Our instructors represent the best of both worlds.

Program Chair

ANDREA L. AMES, M.S., is a senior technical staff member (STSM) and information experience strategist and architect at IBM. She has taught at UCSC Extension since 1998. She specializes in user-centered information usability, strategy, architecture, and design. Ms. Ames’ specialty is architecting and designing information for software user interfaces, such as labels, embedded instructional text, and hover help, as well as driving the interfaces using her information to be as easy to explain as possible before developing traditional documentation. She teaches at the university level and is in demand as a conference speaker internationally. She is a fellow and past president (2004-05) of the Society for Technical Communication and a distinguished engineer of the Association for Computing Machinery.


Program Format

UCSC Extension’s Technical Writing and Communications program is offered at UC Santa Cruz Silicon Valley Campus, a beautiful facility located on the corner of Scott and Bowers in Santa Clara. Our entire curriculum is also available online. Choose courses according to your interest or declare candidacy in the certificate for a more comprehensive overview of the field.

Certificate Requirements

Total: 10 courses

Required: 7 courses

Elective: 3 courses

GPA: 3.0, with a C or better in all courses.

Timeline: To earn the certificate, you must complete all minimum requirements within 3 years of declaring candidacy.

Transferring courses from other institutions: Courses completed more than 5 years prior to the date of certificate issuance cannot be used to fulfill requirements. Learn more about transferring credit here.

Required Courses

Technical Communication Fundamentals

  • Technical Communication: An Introduction to the Profession, 1.5 units
  • Grammar and Style for Technical Communicators, 3 units
  • Technical Writers’ Workshop, 1 unit
  • Writing Successful Instructions, Procedures and Policies, 1.5 units
  • Developing Technical Information from Plan to Completion, 1.5 units

Advanced Topics in Communications

  • Information Architecture and Design Basics, 1.5 units
  • Final Project: Preparing Your Job Search, 1.5 units


Choose 3:

  • Building and Maintaining Your Technical Eminence, 2 units
  • Content Management, 1 unit
  • DITA Authoring, Introduction, 2 units
  • DITA Information Architecture, 1.5 units
  • Graphic Design Fundamentals, 2 units
  • Human Factors for Technical Communicators, 1 unit
  • Managing Technical Documentation Projects, 1 unit
  • Minimalist Design for Documentation, 0.5 unit
  • Mobile UA, 1.5 units
  • Role of the Project Manager, 1.5 units
  • Usability Testing Documentation, 2 units
  • Visual Communication, 1.5 units
  • XML For the Rest of Us, 1 unit

Recommended Course Sequence

It is recommended you start with "Technical Communication: An Introduction to the Profession". You must end with "Final Project: Resume and Portfolio Preparation."


Want to learn more about our curriculum in person? Join us for a free Info Session to learn more about our courses, faculty, and program requirements. Learn more on our Events page.


The rough cost of the Technical Writing and Communications certificate is estimated at $6,575.



No application is required to enroll in our courses or certificate programs. Information about our open enrollment process can be found on our Enrollment page. If you have any questions about our programs, please contact the UCSC Extension Outreach office by phone at 408-861-3860, or by email at

From the schedule below, click on a course title to see sections available for enrollment. You may view the full course schedule, or enroll in the course, by clicking the respective button. The course type offerings (classroom, online, blended) are guidelines and subject to change. A blended (hybrid) course has both classroom and online components.

Declaring Candidacy

If you intend to pursue a certificate, declaring candidacy establishes program requirements early in your studies, so any subsequent curriculum changes do not affect your progress. It does not limit what courses you can take; and it helps you structure your professional development program for maximum benefit to you. Go to the declare candidacy page to establish your requirements for this program. Certificate program requirements must be completed within three years of declaring candidacy.

Course Schedule

1. Required Courses
classroom : Classroom
online : Online
hybrid : Blended
2. Required Courses
classroom : Classroom
online : Online
hybrid : Blended
Offering Code Offering Units Fall Winter Spring Summer
TEWR.X490 Final Project: Preparing Your Job Search 1.5 Online Online
TEWR.X405 Information Architecture and Design Basics 1.5 Online
3. Elective Courses (choose three)
classroom : Classroom
online : Online
hybrid : Blended
4. Required Certificate Review
classroom : Classroom
online : Online
hybrid : Blended
Offering Code Offering Units Fall Winter Spring Summer
O-CE0612 Technical Writing Certificate Completion Review Online Online Online Online