Teaching Technical Communication
Combining aspects from technology, media studies and communication, the specialisation in Technical Communication in the BA in Applied Languages is an innovation in the Swiss educational landscape.
Graduates with a BA in Applied Languages who studied the specialisation in Technical Communication are specialists in editing, distributing and managing data on technical products and technical contexts. They prepare information for various communicative purposes, output media and target groups, which may comprise engineers and technicians, decision-makers who do not have a technical background or product users.
They create operating and service instructions, online help, documents for marketing and sales and staff training materials in the form of print and (multimedia) interactive documentation (either on CD-ROM or on the Internet). They manage multilingual product-related information, contribute to the ergonomic design of user interfaces, conduct user tests and carry out many other related tasks.
Graduates of our three-year degree programme hold the following title: Bachelor of Arts ZFH in Applied Languages, specialisation in Technical Communication.
Our primary objective in the specialisation in Technical Communication is to allow students to combine excellent language skills (in German, English and a second foreign language) with the ability to reflect on linguistic communication processes from a scientific point of view and to actively manage these processes. Another key objective is to enable students to acquire technical competence and competences related to specific professional fields, so that after graduating, they are able to create technical documentation that is tailored to the needs of a specific target group, output medium and communicative purpose.
With its wide range of elective modules, the specialisation in Technical Communication allows students to create a relatively individual study plan. Our "Usability Testing" module, which takes place in our usability lab, gives students an introduction to both the methodological principles of testing and their practical application. By taking part in projects, frequently conducted in collaboration with industry partners, they are able to put their acquired knowledge into practice.
Technical communicators deal with demanding communication tasks at the interface between product development and product use. In the business world, this expertise is regarded as a key competence. Technical communication is a forward-looking professional field with good career opportunities and a broad spectrum of employment options. Whether they work for public authorities, service providers, for specialist journals or in the marketing and documentation departments of companies operating in the field of consumer goods, mechanical or electrical engineering, plant construction or software/hardware, our graduates are very much in demand.
For a long time, technology was documented by the same people who were responsible for developing it, even though the products concerned were designed to be used by the general public. It was assumed that the people who had created the products would also be the best at describing their characteristics and mode of operation. This assumption ignored the fact that a technical education does not usually include a component in which students acquire the necessary communicative and document-related competences. In recent decades, however, technical communication has become more and more important, mainly due to the change in legal requirements, the growing complexity of technical devices and the increasingly critical stance taken by consumers. In order to deal with the diverse, complex tasks involved in technical communication, it is no longer possible to rely solely on experts from specific technical disciplines: nowadays, specialists with an interdisciplinary education, i.e. including technical and communicative expertise, have become essential. Industry has recognised this need and is prepared to engage highly-qualified professionals instead of recruiting non-specialists and training them on the job.
Here, you can find selected job advertisements in the field of technical communication. These are particularly relevant to students and graduates who are studying or have completed the specialisation in Technical Communication in the BA in Applied Languages.