Re: SF, California Wages

Subject: Re: SF, California Wages
From: "Chuck" <writer -at- best -dot- com>
To: techwr-l
Date: Thu, 4 Nov 1999 13:07:27 -0800

Meyers, Patrick (GES SF) <meyerpa -at- exchange -dot- ml -dot- com> wrote in message
news:27463 -at- techwr-l -dot- -dot- -dot-
> I have a question for all you web designers and tech writers. Living in
> Francisco, quite possibly the most expensive residential rental market in
> the country (or world?), I am wondering if the salaries for web and tech
> writing positions are in line with the costs of living, or would I make
> nearly as much living in a cheaper city like San Diego (and therefore be
> able to afford my own tiny little studio apartment which I can't even do
> here on my measly desktop publishers salary!)

In a word: yes.

But that also means that tech writers still are not on par with the salaries
of other engineering disciplines.

About 2 months ago I did the WesTech Job Fair thing in SF. I stopped at one
booth that seemd to have a good job at a good company. I also gave them the
name of my recruiter (who specializes in placing technical writers) in case
I wasn't available or they didn't find anyone else thorugh the job fair.
They called me in for an interview a coule of weeks later. From my
perspective, the interview went fabulously. I was able to answer all their
questions, they gave good responses to mine, and we seemed to be comfortable
together. At the end of the interview, they asked me how much I wanted.
Knowing the market rates for that skills set, but not wanting to give a
direct figure, I just explained that I knew the market and said that for the
skills they needs (and I had), those postions typically is a range I

The next day I got a letter saying they thought I wasn't a good fit for the
job. I talked to my recruiter later that day and he said that that same
company had contected him (through my recommendation, I'm sure) wanting to
fill that same position--and wanting to pay only about 2/3 of market rate.

It's obvious that some companies, even in the educated, high-tech world of
Silicon Valley, are still clueless about what it takes to create good
documentation and user experiences. often contains salary ranges in their listings, and salaries
for senior level tech writers are finally starting to approach 6 figures
(I'm told one prominent Bay Area company alrady does this). True, there's an
overwhelming amount of talent out there, but also a lot of need. If you're
good, you'll stand above the crowd.

> Just a thought. Seems this area is so bogged down with talent that the
> competition makes it a tough market, with Silicon Valley and all. Is it
> much to ask to want to do web designing and tech writing and afford a
> private apartment? Ye gads I'm not talking about living at the Fairmont!
> course here I dont need a car).
> Living in the land of $1500 a month studios!

OK, so I'll brag. I have a nice, 2-bedroom house in a decent neghborhood of
SF, with a garage, for that same $1500. Sources of semi-reasonably priced
housing here can be found just as can sources of decent-paying tech writer

Chuck Martin

"[Programmers] cannot successfully be asked to design for
users because...inevitably, they will make judgments based
on the difficult of coding and not on the user's real needs."
- Alan Cooper
"About Face: The Essentials of User Interface Design"

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