SAN FRANCISCO -- The ever-expanding world of technology has
spawned jobs that few people ever heard of 10 years ago and
not 20 years ago.
Anyone who has ever brought home an electronic gadget, plugged it
in and read the instruction book has come in contact with one of
those jobs: technical writing.
Any company that uses computers needs a manual that tells people
how to get those computers to work. A technical writer creates that
Job titles for technical writers vary. They can be known as
learning products engineers, knowledge products specialists,
documentation specialists, information developers, information
architects, procedures analysts, procedures writers or instructional
Or even just plain technical writers.
One technical writer, known as an instructional designer, is
Marina Krakovsky -- an independent contractor who formerly worked
with an Apple Computer group in Cupertino that creates manuals for
the educational market. Krakovsky, 27, also teaches an introduction
to technical writing class through the UC-Berkeley Extension's
Besides the demand in the computer industry, Krakovsky said tech
writers are needed in industries ranging from science and
to banking and medicine.
Writing, editing and preparing publications, their job is to
convey information accurately and efficiently, understanding who
be using the information.
Collaborating with other writers as well as engineers, designers
and others, technical writers may create not only user manuals but
also tutorials, which are less thorough than manuals because they
only to get someone started with a new machine, system or program.
Other projects might include reference manuals, installation
manuals, on-line help systems, computer-based training for complex
software and applications, World Wide Web pages and scientific
such as articles, technical reports and even speeches for
Because technical writing is so collaborative, Krakovsky said she
spends much of her day communicating with other people in order to
gather information, check on progress or determine strategies for
completing a project.
From her point of view, the profession's rewards include the
chance to be creative, to use many skills, to work on innovative
technology and to understand how the entire company operates. She
also has found that she has relative freedom to structure her day as
she sees fit and that it's easy to advance quickly into more
challenging jobs, averting boredom. …