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Should I take this workshop?

How it works


Agenda for the in-person workshop (3 days)

Agenda for the online workshop (6 weeks)s

Comments from students

Your instructor

Schedule and locations

Attention, corporate managers!

Introduction to technical communication as a profession

If you are a newcomer or a beginner, or if you have been doing technical writing or editing for a while but want to know what kind of a profession you have gotten into,  this workshop shows you what tasks are involved, what standards and values are worshipped, and where the money is.

First, you explore the profession. You learn about the top 10 indicators of success in this profession, take a quick look back at 2,000 years of technical communication and explore the roles of technical communicators today. You discover the role technical communicators can play in work settings such as government labs, start-ups, Fortune 500 industries, and as freelance consultants.

Then you explore the process by which technical communicators accomplish their work. You learn about information design and development processes, in particular user-centered processes. You learn how your work as a technical communicator fits into a product life cycle in a high-tech environment.

This course is practical, not theoretical. This is no undergraduate course taught by a grad student who knows little about the field. Your instructor has more than 20 years experience working as a technical writer and editor for major Fortune 500 companies, startups, government agencies, and mid-size departments. You'll learn what mistakes can cost you a job, what typos will get your resume rejected, what to do to get a raise. You get the inside dope.

Should I take this workshop?


  • If you want to know whether your skills match those needed for technical communication
  • If you wonder what kind of work is available in the field
  • If you want to try your hand at some typical tasks performed by technical communicators
  • If you want to find out how a technical communicator's work fits into an organization's process
  • If you want to know how much money people make in this profession, and how to get promoted
  • If you want to know what technical communication managers care about in your writing, interview, and work on the job


  • If you want basic instruction on writing English, you should take another class.
  • If you heartily dislike writing, you should avoid this class. You're asked to do a lot of writing and editing here.
  • If you are looking for a course in public relations or marketing writing, skip this one. 
  • If you are involved primarily in scientific writing, or responding to requests from regulatory agencies, this course is probably not for you.  We focus on technical communication in the high-tech industry, where 90% of the jobs are, even now.

How it works

You learn through in-class exercises, solving problems, writing drafts, reviewing and editing.

You can ask lots of questions, so you can find out how your own background prepares you for technical communication.

You get an insider's view of the profession, and lots of tips to help you when you are preparing your resume, looking for work, interviewing, and, once you have a job, getting promoted.

You learn the way technical communication looks to a professional, so you can make the right moves when you are looking for work, and promotions.


When you complete this workshop, you will be able to:

  • Identify key roles, tasks, tools, salaries, and career paths for a technical communicator
  • Identify job types, locations and skills that fit your interests
  • List at least a dozen tasks a technical communicator performs
  • Write parts of typical documentation
  • Identify critical aspects of editing
  • Describe the way that technical communication fits into the life of the larger organization
  • List the phases of a design and development process
  • Describe various tools and techniques used in each phase of the process
  • Use 100 key industry terms correctly

Agenda for the in-person workshop (3 days)

Day One

  • What is this profession?
  • Signs that you will do well in technical communication
  • What does a technical communicator do?
  • How do I write a procedure?
  • How do I analyze and edit technical writing?
  • What tools do I need?

Day Two

  • What kind of jobs are there in technical communication?
  • Organizations to explore.
  • How do I get a job?
  • How will I fit into an organization's process?
  • How you work within the process of product management
  • Creating an information plan
  • Doing task analysis
  • Creating a content specification
  • How you work within a user-centered design process

Day Three

  • How can I test a manual?
  • How do I handle emotions in this job?
  • Where did this profession come from?
  • Review of key ideas and terms.

Agenda for the online workshop (6 weeks)

Week 1:

  • What is this profession?
  • Signs that you will do well in technical communication
  • How to write a procedure

Week 2:

  • What will I do as a technical communicator?
  • What kind of jobs are there in technical communication?
  • Organizations to explore.
  • Revising and formatting your procedure for your portfolio.

Week 3:

  • Understanding the levels of edit
  • Editing a procedure
  • Editing sentences and paragraphs
  • Using a styleguide
  • Editing with a styleguide

Week 4

  • How your work fits into the organization's life
  • The idea of process
  • Waves of process in industry
  • The process of product management
  • Creating an information plan
  • Analyzing your audience

Week 5

  • Doing task analysis
  • Drawing up the task list
  • Completing the information plan
  • Creating a content specification
  • Adapting your writing for your audience and their idea of the task

Week 6

  • Putting your user at the center of the process
  • Testing your manual
  • Developing your emotional intelligence, to become a star performer
  • Final exam

Comments from students (from anonymous evaluations at UCSC)

  • A comprehensive perspective.
  • Great instructor, very complete course materials
  • The combination of lecture and team assignments made coursework interesting. Lots of topics-all very interesting and motivational.
  • Jonathan Price is a very effective instructor. I was concerned before taking this course that it would be very repetitious and boring, since I've completed quite a few of the other certificate courses, but I still learned quite a bit, especially about resumes, job searches, and web sites.
  • Great teacher! Really an expert in his field. Best person to teach this introduction to the profession. More concrete and hands-on than I expected, which was a wonderful surprise.
  • It was an overview course, but specific examples were included that gave you a real feel of what the profession is really like.
  • Very well organized. Informative, relevant, useful, intelligent, witty, fun!

Your instructor

Jonathan Price has a Doctorate in Fine Arts from Yale, and a BA from Harvard. He has taught at the undergraduate and graduate level for New York University, the University of Bridgeport, Rutgers, the University of New Mexico, and New Mexico Tech.

He has also taught extension classes in information architecture, content management, XML, and technical writing for Bentley, UC Berkeley, Stanford, and UCSC.

 He frequently gives workshops and talks at meetings of the Society for Technical Communication, in which he is an Associate Fellow.

He has authored two dozen books, including two books on technical writing from major publishers, an academic study of electronic outlining, and two other books on writing. He and his wife Lisa have coauthored Hot Text: Web Writing that Works (2002). He has edited special issues of two of the major journals in technical communication, Technical Communication, and IEEE Transactions on Professional Communication. He has worked professionally in technical communication for 20 years, with an A to Z of clients such as Action, Adobe, Apple, Broderbund, Cadence, Canon, Cisco, Cray, Epson, eToys, Fujitsu, GO, Hewlett Packard, Hitachi, IBM, Informix, KBKids, Kodak, Lotus, Matsushita, Mindscape, Mitsubishi, NEC, Nikon, Oracle, Peoplesoft, Qronos, Relational, Ricoh, Seybold, Sprint, Sun, Symantec, and Zycad.

Schedule and locations

Online: JER Online Workshops, open registration

Attention, Corporate Managers!

If you have a group of people who are all writing the same kind of materials, we can customize the course, so that it reflects common problems that your people face. Examples seem familiar; exercises resemble their day-to-day work. Result: they can see, immediately, how the course can help them do their jobs.

Related classes

The Architecture of Content

Content Management




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