"Perhaps there is a career opportunity for a writer who can write but has an average level of technical skill, who could liaise with a manufacturer and put the awkward stuff into plain language."
Many years ago, I purchased a router that was made by a major international manufacturer. I spent an unproductive weekend trying to set up the router. On Monday, I phoned the support desk. The support person was very helpful. He told me that the manual was wrong, and he told me what to do to set up the router. Because of the incorrect documentation, that company cost me the best part of a weekend.
I did as you suggest. I contacted the company to show them the benefits of clear documentation. Were they interested? No. Some companies see documentation as a cost. They skimp, and they use non-professionals to produce documentation.
However, some companies realise the benefits of clear documentation, and they pay professional technical communicators (technical writers). Sometimes, those technical communicators are employees, and sometimes, they are freelancers. So, yes, there are career opportunities for professional technical communicators.
If you want to find a freelance technical communicator, use one of the following websites.
* www.writersua.com/rescontr.htm for technical communicators around the world
* www.qualityauthors.co.uk for technical communicators in the UK.
Some of these companies outsource things like the documentation and do so before they know the level of language skills these places have. Another issue is that they don't communicate to these places about the target market they are trying to reach, so the terminology may be way off and not helpfull at all.
I whole heartedly agree. That is something I have to keep reminding myself when writing things for customers, keep it simple and on their level.
A skilled technical writer takes the information from the subject matter experts and renders it in the context of the average user. When documentation is originated by an engineer or a programmer, they often assume that all users will have their background knowledge and will naturally know the steps they don't write down or will understand the technical jargon the insiders use. It's my job to ferret out those nit-picky little details and get them into the documentation for the folks who need them.
- Keyboard Shortcuts: