Technical or Professional Writing?

Why am I studying professional writing and not technical writing?

Technical Writing, Technical Communication, Professional Writing, or combinations of these titles all refer to programs that focus on writing for the workplace. The range of titles points to a resistance to narrowly defining what writers with training in Technical/Professional Writing (TPW) can contribute to organizations.

Most TPW programs whether called technical or professional writing offer similar courses. Most courses focus on writing-related skills and publication contexts that can be utilized in any industry. The core courses we offer at the University of Louisiana in Lafayette are similar to courses offered in many other programs. Our special topics courses address 21st competencies and the demand for workers skilled in grant writing.

  • Core Courses
    • Technical Writing
    • Professional Writing
    • Professional Editing
    • Document Design
  • Special Topics
    • Digital Storytelling
    • Writing for the Web
    • Blogging
    • Grant Writing

While some programs offer industry-specific courses like Writing for Healthcare, most focus on skills, tools, and genres that apply across industries. Writing and communication skills are valued across disciplines, and good writers should be able to adapt their skills to any industry.

Am I a technical writer or professional writer?

In job advertisements Technical Writing is a narrow field, while Professional Writing does not translate directly to a job title. Job postings for technical writers often apply a narrow definition of technical writing as writing that explains technology to a user. In this limited definition, technical writers write about technology in instructive or descriptive genres like manuals, processes, procedures, and reports. The following add for a job in Louisiana is typical for positions calling for a technical writer.

A technical writer writes, rewrites and/or edits technical documents such as technical procedure manuals, user manuals, project plans, programming manuals, service manuals, operational specifications and related technical publications to communicate the technical specifications and instructions to a wide range of audiences.

While technical writing is perceived in the job market to define a narrow field of writing, professional writing is seen as too broad for a job title. This does not mean that you can’t get a job as a professional writer. Candidates with professional writing skills would be fully qualified for the following position as a communications specialist.

A communications specialist is responsible for writing and editing a variety of communication materials to educate and inform the public. Written products may include newsletter, magazine, annual report and web-site articles/stories, blog posts, press releases, and op-ed pieces. S/he will assist in the management of design and production of written materials and may work with freelance writers, graphic designers, photographers, printers and other vendors.

As long as technical writers don’t narrowly define themselves they will also have the skills to be a “communications specialist” or any of the other 21st century job titles that require a broad range of technical/professional writing skills that includes digital media and Internet publication.

Whether you want to call yourself a technical writer or professional writer, Profwrite Inc. aims to provide you with work experience to develop skills in writing, design, editing, and publication technologies.