Rapid growth within the high-technology and electronics industries is prompting a demand for technical writers, reports the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Most employers in greater Los Angeles prefer candidates who have earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism or English. Marc Fishel was ahead of the game, entering the now-expanding field before technology became the science of the time.
“When I graduated from Kent State University back in 1976, there were no technical writing degrees. Therefore, I graduated with a bachelor of science degree, with a major in English and a minor in journalism,” said Fishel, owner of High-Tech Publications. “This academic achievement has allowed me to think in a way that explains technical concepts to a novice audience, whether that audience is comprised of engineers, non-technical users or individuals somewhere in between.”
Why did you choose this field?
“I decided to become a technical writer because of my passion to teach. I get immense satisfaction disseminating information to an audience, utilizing creative methods.”
Which vocational pathway did you take?
“My original career path was to become an English teacher. After generating procedures at a bank, I was hired at my first high-tech company by a publications manager who believed firmly that it was much easier to teach someone technology than it was to teach writing to someone who understands technology, but cannot write.”
How do technology experts and technical writers work together?
“Technology experts possess the vision about their products and on a larger scale, trends in technology. Case in point: When I documented a solution for email back in the early 80s that used a computer mailbox connected to a computer’s serial port, it was the precursor of the email of today.”
What is your message to endeavoring technical writers?
“I encourage aspiring technical writers to practice instructional writing at every chance. The writing does not have to cover a complex topic. For example, write a procedure about how to dial a call, using a telephone or how to operate a toaster. Then, give the write-up to someone who can use the instructions to try and achieve the intended task.”
Sharon Raiford Bush is an award-winning journalist. Some news articles she has authored are archived by the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C.