Find out more about our Firehead course instructors: Chris Hester and Jamie Gillenwater

At Firehead, we’re extremely proud of the high caliber of the authors in our Training Centre. This month, we’re shining the spotlight on Chris Hester and Jamie Gillenwater, whose Foundations of Technical Communication course is one of the first in our offer, and a great success.

Here’s a little bit about Chris and Jamie 

Jamie Gillenwater manages a team of technical communicators at a successful data company. She also works as an online instructor for CPTC Training and Bigger Brains. Jamie is an Associate Fellow of the Society for Technical Communication, CompTIA Certified Technical Trainer, and NN/g UX Certified.

Chris Hester is the founder of Red Desk Studio, a consultancy that specialises in content strategy, taxonomy, and knowledge management solutions. She is an accredited instructor for CPTC Training, a Fellow of the Society for Technical Communication, and is a frequent presenter at conference and techcomm events.

Here’s a little bit about the course

The Foundations of Technical Communication course provides a working knowledge of the core competencies that are required for being successful in the technical communication industry:

– Project Planning

– Project Analysis

– Content Development

– Organizational Design

– Written Communication

– Visual Communication

– Review and Editing

– Content Management

– Production and Delivery

Who is the course for?

This course is ideal for business professionals who want a global overview of technical communication, new technical communicators who want to increase their knowledge and proficiency, and experienced technical communicators who want to prepare for the CPTC Foundation exam.

On completing this asynchronous, self-guided course, you will have learned basic technical communication terminology, theory and processes and should be able to discuss and demonstrate their use in the workplace.

You can follow this course without any requirement to take the exam. It is designed to be a solid introductory foundation to the field of technical communications.

The twenty hours of course materials include videos, guidebooks, exercises, and quizzes. We also provide two practice certification exams for those interested in pursuing CPTC Foundation certification. On average, our students increase their score by 20 points between the first practice exam and the second.

The course is based on the body of knowledge Society for Technical Communication (USA) selected for the Foundation exam: Richard Johnson-Sheehan’s Technical Communication Today, Fifth Edition. The textbook is available in print from Pearson or from The textbook is also available to rent or buy digitally from VitalSource.

This course is designed to prepare you to take the CPTC certification in Technical Communication exam by APMG-certified exam preparation experts. The exam itself is separate and optional. This course provides all the basics you need to learn to pass the certification exam.

Resource materials to support your learning are provided within the course.

We interviewed Chris and Jamie about the course

Why is this course important? 


This course is designed to help you focus on your readers through the nine core competencies. Many courses are developed to meet current trends and technologies. As information is more readily available in an instant, tools and processes in our work change more rapidly, too.

The Society for Technical Communication identified the core competencies that we cover in this course. The course book that we used as the basis for these core competencies then describes how to strategically think about your readers and how to create content that works for them, whether they are in a single role and culture or if you are writing for a wide audience across multiple cultures. The course also covers how to work within a team and how to revise and visually design your content, all of which are critical skills for technical communicators.

How will this information help you two years from now?

The Foundations of Technical Communication course is designed to help you no matter where you are in your career. Because we focus on core competencies, not changing technologies or specific industries, what you learn can continue to be used as you grow in your career. There are technical communicators throughout the world who have wildly different jobs, yet require an understanding of a core set of skills. Whether you are producing user videos, procedures and instructions, or product documentation, you need to understand project planning, how to develop for a range of users, visuals, and how to work with others. Our course covers all of these topics so they can be used to fit your current and future work.

Chris and Jamie give you some helpful things to know before you dive in to technical communications

  1. Best practices for planning your communications project
  2. Decision making based on your audience and their needs
  3. Common techniques for researching technical information
  4. Effective use of graphics and visual design principles of visual design 
  5. Editing and reviews of your technical content

download our free checklist to technical communications

At Firehead, we identify nine core competencies for technical communicators that form the bedrock skills of the profession. 



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