Part-time, online Technical Communication Certificate

Frequently asked questions about this program

Q: What professional accreditation comes with this technical writing certificate?

A: Technical communication—or technical writing, as it is often called—does not have national or international accreditation or certification based on an industry-standard exam, but our program is aligned with the core technical communication competencies that the Society for Technical Communication has identified. We continue to work with technical communication industry professionals to keep our program current.

Q: Is there a career placement opportunity after completing the certificate?

A: No, but you may request a career consultation with one of our instructors in order to discuss where and how to search for employment opportunities.

Q: What do technical communicators do?

A: Technical communicators, often called technical writers, create paper and online documents, training materials, policy documents, and user guides.

Technical communicators work in the following industries:

  • Advertising and creative design
  • Business analysis
  • Communications law
  • Desktop and electronic publishing
  • Documentation services
  • Education
  • Grant and proposal writing
  • Human performance, usability, and user-interface design
  • Indexing
  • Internet technology
  • Journalism
  • Management
  • Product management
  • Photography
  • Policy and research communication
  • Speech writing
  • Technical illustration
  • Training and course development
  • Translation
  • Video and film production

Q: What happens if I don’t finish a course or I miss a course during the year?

A: There may be opportunities to extend the deadline for a final assignment or exam, depending on how much of the course you have finished. You may also take a break from the program and return to taking courses the following year.

Q: Do I have to set aside specific times to take these courses?

A: No. Occasionally, an instructor will create virtual office hours using the chat or whiteboard function of the course site, but student participation is optional. Groups of students will want to work collaboratively on a project or assignment, but the students involved will arrange their own meeting time.

Q: Do you take international students? Do we pay a different rate?

A: We accept English-speaking students from anywhere in the world. There are no differential fees for international students.

Q: I think I've taken a similar course to one in the program. Can I get credit for it?

A: As a student in the Technical Communication Certificate, you may request up to three exemptions for equivalent courses you have completed at SFU or other educational institutions.

Have the following information ready to upload with your application to the Technical Communication Certificate, or if you are already an accepted Technical Communication certificate student, email to wppcert@sfu.ca. We can assess your request only if all of the following items are submitted.

  1. Name of the specific course within the Technical Communication Certificate for which you are requesting an exemption.
  2. Name of the course you have completed that you feel matches the SFU course in content and hours. Courses must have been completed within five years of your request.
  3. Course outline/syllabus of the course you have completed. This must show details of curriculum content, evaluation methods and course hours.
  4. Official transcript.

If approved, we'll charge a $50 exemption fee for each course and assign an EX grade, which will appear on your transcript.

All of the courses and programs offered through SFU Continuing Studies are non-credit—they do not carry university credits. The work doesn't transfer toward other university degrees and most institutions, including SFU, would not accept the course work completed as transfer credits towards undergraduate or graduate programs.

Q: Are scholarships or other funding available?

This program may be eligible for a Canada-British Columbia Job Grant, which could cover up to two-thirds of your tuition costs. Work with your employer to confirm your eligibility and share tuition costs with the Government of Canada.

If you are an Internationally Trained Professional, you may contact S.U.C.C.E.S.S. for potential financial assistance from the Foreign Credential Recognition (FCR) Loan Project.

The provincial government recently announced a tuition waiver for former youth in care attending public post-secondary institutions in British Columbia. B.C. students who are between 19 and 26 years of age who have received care from the Ministry of Children and Family Development or a Delegated Aboriginal Agency through the Child, Family and Community Service Act may be eligible for a tuition waiver for all Continuing Studies courses and programs. We will provide further updates as more information becomes available.

The program is not eligible for any other B.C. or Canada Student Loans, but you are welcome to obtain funding through other sources such as your personal financial institution (line of credit, borrowing from RRSPs, etc.).

Q: What do I need to do to graduate with the Technical Communication Certificate?

Complete all core courses with an overall grade of B- (70%) to graduate with the Technical Communication Certificate. When you have successfully completed all your courses, please fill out the graduation application form. There is no fee to apply to graduate.

Q: What is it like to learn online? What will I have to do?

Visit our Program at a glance section for details on the online learning experience with the Technical Communication Certificate.

Q: How can I learn more about the technical communication industry?

A: Request a private career consultation with one of our technical communication instructors. For information about our Technical Communication Certificate, attend one of our free, online Technical Communication Information Sessions. Click on the 'Attend an online info session' link in the sidebar.

Frequently asked questions about SFU Continuing Studies

Q: Where do your courses take place?

A: Simon Fraser University has three campuses: in Burnaby, Vancouver and Surrey. While undergraduate and graduate courses take place at all three campuses, we offer SFU Continuing Studies courses primarily at the Vancouver and Surrey campuses as well as the Surrey City Centre Library.

Please check course or program pages to find out where classes meet.

SFU Continuing Studies also offers online programs and courses, which are available to students anywhere in the world.

Q: When do your courses start?

A: While undergraduate and graduate courses start at the beginning of each semester (January, May and September), SFU Continuing Studies programs begin throughout the year. Please check course or program pages for start dates.

Q: Do I need to apply for admission if I want to take SFU Continuing Studies courses?

A: You do not have to apply for admission to register for most Continuing Studies courses, but there are application procedures for our certificate and diploma programs. Visit the certificate or diploma program pages for details.

Q: Is there a different fee structure for international students?

A: Although undergraduate and graduate programs have different fee structures for international students, fees for Continuing Studies courses and programs are the same for domestic and international students.

Q: How do I find out about your free public events?

A: Click on the public lectures and events link on the sidebar.

Q: Do you have a course about ... ?

A: Please search our website for courses and programs that might interest you. If you don’t find what you’re looking for, we probably don't yet offer a course or program in that area. Please contact us at learn@sfu.ca or 778-782-8000 if you have questions.

Q: How do I request a transcript?

A: Go to our online form to request a transcript of courses you have completed through SFU Continuing Studies.

Q: Can I access my grades online?

A: Once you have an account, you can review your courses, schedule and grades online. Instructions for accessing your grades are available in our online guide.

Q: Will I receive an income-tax receipt for my tuition?

A. If your SFU tuition fees exceed $100 in one calendar year, they may qualify as a tax credit. The payment receipt that we'll email you after you register is your official tax receipt. To determine whether your tuition fees qualify, consult the Canada Revenue Agency guidelines.

Q: What is your policy on course cancellations and instructor substitutions?

A: We reserve the right to substitute instructors or cancel courses without liability. In the event of a cancellation, we will make every effort to give registered students adequate notice. To make this process easier, when you register for courses, please provide full contact information, including your home and business telephone numbers, email address(es) and a fax number.

Q: What is your policy on program withdrawals and tuition refunds?

A: Our Refund Policy is posted on our Registration Information page.

Q: When I complete my program, what will my alumni status be?

A: Graduates of SFU certificate and diploma programs become SFU alumni, complete with all of our alumni benefits.

Q: What is a cohort?

A: We call several of our programs cohort programs. This means you will work through the program courses with a group of your peers (called a cohort). Some program courses are available only to cohort students—that is, students who have been accepted to and are working through the entire program.