The outsourcing explosion started with software and expanded to call centers and is now spreading to other fields and technical writing is one of them. The Indian education system has produced many a talented software professionals, technical writers and many other experts. It would be very difficult to find a country like India with higher level of English writing and editing skills. The outcome is large number of qualified professionals willing to provide quality content to a variety of global audience.
The outlook of Indian professionals’ especially technical writers’ in India has been very global. With the current outsourcing rush the Indian technical writers can easily create and write from the customers’ viewpoint. The internet also gives Indians an insight to the global trends and makes their output worthwhile.
Scope of technical writing in India
Technical writing in India is new but upcoming profession. There are over 14000 jobs for “Technical Writing” on a job portal in India which is not very far behind other esteemed jobs like engineering and management. Technical writing in India is a lesser known profession which is fast gaining recognition.
Looking at the technical writing job vacancies in India, majority of them are with the software companies and web development companies. Software companies require technical documentation to be done for their products and technical processes like user manuals, guides, online help etc. Web development companies expect their technical writers to write and edit content for their websites. Technical writers are also responsible for high website ranking in the various search engines for applicable key words. This sphere of technical writing is called SEO (Search Engine Optimization).
There are other sectors also which hire technical writers like telecom, banking, energy, insurance etc. So broadly speaking, job of a technical writer is to develop broachers, user guides, reports and white papers for different types of products. These jobs are not new in, but their classification of these activities under technical writing in India is rather new.
Impact of technical writing in India
In the 1990s technical writing in India was practically unknown. But there were some IT giants who realized the need of technical documentation and started setting up teams for the same. It has literally become a key factor for an organization’s growth and progress as technical writers have bridged the gap between a company’s product and its users. Technical writing in India as well as in other countries has become a procedure to deliver information in the form of speech or document to a particular audience like programmers, technical support staff, end-users, potential customers and business partners. The process of getting or loosing a business deal depends on the efficiency of a technical writer as the technical documents and write-ups form the face of company.
Consumers hardly buy a product (software or hardware) with high technology without proper documentation. They look at the documentation to understand the technology and configure, deploy, install and use these products. Hence, technical writing in India and other countries has a major role to play.
Global Trends in technical writing
With evolving technologies and new tools there should be some trends that should be kept in mind. Below mentioned are the trends in the field of technical writing that one can follow:
Shared authoring – Technical writing in India as well as in other countries is no longer done by a single writer from a single point of view. Projects need inputs from various SMEs (Subject Matter Experts) who thrive in various locations and departments. A technical writer should know how to extract information from them and put together in one place.
Social Networking Sites – There are so many social media sites like facebook, linkedIn etc. where discussions are taking place on the products and services you document. So to become successful companies participate in social media, take feedback and strengthen ties with their customers.
Fusion technical writer – To be a successful technical writer it is not enough that you can write. One has to play various roles like web designer, motivational speaker or a QA tester etc.
Multimedia – Small video tutorials embedded on youtube or other video sharing sites are quite narrative for visual learners.
Globalization – A technical writer may have to work with peers distributed globally. And a product is also distributed globally often, which means you should write in plain and simple business English which everyone understands. It is important to be understood by people from various cultures across the globe.
User-created content – Instead of users just being passive consumers of your product or service, you can encourage them to post comments, become forum moderators and post articles and participate actively.
Qualification and Skills required for technical writing in India
Though companies decide roles and duties for technical writers in the job advertisements, but no specifications are given for the qualification requirements that a person must possess. Since technical writing involves both good communication skills, a flair for writing, a methodical way of presenting the information and technical bent of mind, therefore in India a person from technical background as well as humanities background can become a technical writer.
As there are no formal training courses run by the Universities for technical writing in India unlike other countries like USA, there are no specific qualification parameters defined to become a technical writer. Though there are some privately run institutes who train students to be future technical writers in some metro cities in India like Hyderabad, Pune and Bangalore etc.
There are some common skill set required to be a technical writer:
Technical skills – A technical writer should be aware of the technology being used for a product or service for documentation purpose. When a technical writer interviews the SMEs (Subject Matter Experts) for details he should have the technology specific expertise so as to understand the information and later document it.
Writing skills – It is mandatory for a technical writer to have a flair for writing. A technical writer should be able to document software, products etc. in a very concise and error free approach.
Tools skills – A technical writer needs to know various software tools, since they have to develop documents in different types of formats. Particular tools, like Adobe FrameMaker, RoboHelp, MS Word, Captivate etc. or maybe some other tool the company depends for technical writing in India.
Interpersonal skills – The ability to extract information for documentation purpose is very important for a technical writer. Generally SMEs do not have enough time. This is where a technical writer’s interpersonal skills come handy to gather as much information as possible in a very short time.
Analytical or Diagnostic skills – A technical writer should possess logical ability to interpret the given information for documenting it.
Drawing or Design skills – Technical writers should understand the usage of visuals to convey their thoughts in a document. Also formatting is very important and audience would understand the things better by the way of visuals.
Testing skills – A technical writer may be asked to test the technical procedures etc. Even if they don’t do it, they understand that verification of the documentation should be done for authentication purpose.
The above mentioned skills like analytical, interpersonal are natural skills, others are acquired skills like technical skills and tool skills. For the various tool skills you can get trained from various institutes in India which run technical writing courses.
Training for technical writing in India
If you want to be a full-time technical writer or a freelancer, you will have to write instructions to assist people use a product or service. Following are listed some the projects that a technical writer has to do:
Documenting User Manuals from computer software to automobiles to electronic gadgets to kitchen appliances.
Documenting Assembly Instructions for furniture, computers or other gadgets.
Documenting training manuals.
Writing online help documents. When audiences need help they can click on the Help link like in your internet browser.
Documenting procedure manuals for businesses.
Documenting for the internet. Technical writing involves writing a web page for a website describing how to use the website and what it does.
The sector of technical writing in India is relatively new. Therefore, there is no formal training for technical writing in India. Candidates who want to be technical writers can go for some online courses or there are some privately run institutes in metro cities like Hyderabad, Pune and Bangalore etc. where one can be trained to become a technical writer. This will definitely increase career prospects for the technical writers.
There are so many basic and advanced courses run by a typical institute like:
Certificate course in technical writing which has duration is one month.
Diploma course in technical writing which has duration of three months.
Advanced or PG diploma course in technical writing which has duration of six months.
These courses prepare you for a technical writing career in India. Not only they provide you with tips for getting hired as a technical writer but also they give you assistance for the same by organizations they have tie ups with.
A typical course of technical writing in India has to offer things like:
How to develop skills you need as technical writer like writing skills and tools skills where you will be trained on tools like Adobe FrameMaker, RoboHelp, Snagit, Captivate, MS Word etc.
How to build your self-confidence in your technical writing capability.
How to complete several tasks that you may be assigned as technical writer like Help systems, Screen shots and Flowcharts.
How understanding the audience is beneficial in technical writing.
Training on various style guides and sample technical writing manuals.
Pros and cons of freelancing, contract and permanent jobs.
Dos and don’ts for writing your CV or resume.
Practice assignments to help learn technical writing.
Technical writing evolving as an industry in India
Looking at the global picture the technical writing industry is 15% of the total software industry. Though, in India the trend is operational by the rising aerospace and defense divisions, also with the rise of the digital market and the increasing focus on other engineering sectors.
Also, with the growth of technical writing in India, innovation and entrepreneurship is required to be upbeat to make the most of the prospects available in India.
The technical writing sector has seen a rush of the outsourcing projects in India, which has risen after the US economic recession. The number of organizations doing vast number of technical writing projects has also risen in India. This is accompanied by the increase in the availability of the trained and experienced workforce available. This assurance in this budding industry is also reinforced by a huge number of local companies spending a considerable proportion of their funds on technical writing and documentation requirements.
The huge number of career prospects available, supported by global standard of education and training services have changed technical writing into a growing and striking career option for many. The clientele for technical writing in India as well as abroad are divisions like IT products, manufacturing, banking, financial, insurance, defense, manufacturing, pharmaceutical, education and business consulting.
Market Survey and Pay scale for a technical writers in India
Median Salary by Skill/Specialty
Job: Technical Writer
Country: India | Currency: INR | Updated: 18 Jun 2010 | Individuals Reporting: 591
A survey conducted by one of the community for technical writing in India shows the rise in salary of technical writers. The survey shows that salaries of technical writers have grown more than 200% in the last couple of years. The median yearly salary for a technical writing professional has grown from Rs. 2.75 lakhs in 2002 to nearly Rs. 6 lakhs in 2008. The survey also shows that current average salary of a fresher in this field is Rs. 2.50 lakhs approximately and that of a senior level technical writer with say 10 years of experience is around Rs. 13 lakhs yearly.
In India if technical writers set according to their technical and non technical background the following chart shows the division:
Here technical writers with technical background not necessarily have a technical degree or a diploma; some might have just worked in that profession in technical capacity.
English Literature, Advertising and Marketing, Journalism Background
A considerable number of Indian technical writers are English Literature graduates, have a background in Journalism or Advertising & Marketing:
Here, all technical writers who are from these categories may not necessarily have a writing background.
Around one-third of technical writers were involved in some kind of writing before switching over to technical writing in India. While most of them were into journalism, there were a few involved in copy writing, freelance writing and research oriented writing.
Fresher or Experienced Technical Writers
Though there are no formal courses of technical writing in India, and knowledge of technical writing is also less, but quite a number of technical writers have started into a career of technical writing as there first ever job.
How technical writers got into this field
Majority of technical writers came to know about the technical writing profession through the organization they were working in, also through friends and family members who were already into this field, advertisements etc.
Experience range of technical writers in India
About half of technical writers in India are in the work experience range of 2 to 4 years. There are some in the profession with more than 8 years of work experience.
The above technical writing survey in India, done by www.tc-forum.org and www.payscale.com shows us the salary range, the growth of technical writing and the kind of people coming into the profession.
Benefits of Outsourcing technical writing to India
There are many benefits of outsourcing technical writing services to India. Most important being saving money and time, followed by improved productivity and updated processing. When someone is thinking of technical writing in India, one can add proficiency and modified approach to the list. The IT has seen a complete boom in the sector, creating professionals who are skilled and expert in technical writing.
India has a very large population that knows fluent English. With the IT revolution in India the young technical writers have been shown the needs of global market so they very well understand demands of the international audience, which enable them to write technical documents in global viewpoint. India has produced many young talented professionals who have specialized in various fields like IT and medicine etc. and are willing to take up technical writing as a full time career. Therefore, one can think of outsourcing specialized projects for technical writing in India without worrying about content accuracy and innovative solutions.
With the outsourcing being a big income generator for the Indian economy, the government is taking proper measures that international customers derive maximum benefits from Indian professionals. This makes better the chances of budding professions like technical writing in India.
Future of technical writing in India
Indians must keep reminding themselves that technical writing jobs were not created here. To keep up with these good times we must be able to foretell the future trends of technical writing in India and try to transform accordingly.
In various companies in India where technical writers are employed, writing is taken to be a deliberate business function. One has to work hard to make his presence felt by making the technical writing profession center of the business function. It is our duty to instruct stakeholders about the importance of this profession and why they should hire a technical writer. Right now we are not at a point where a technical writer can put documentation in their final business project schemes.
Companies are constantly concerned about the budgets which are attached with the resources. These days’ companies are harping upon making profits with reduced manpower. This thing directly impacts the profession of a technical writer. A technical writer must continuously remind the management about the values he presents the company with. For this we need people with leadership skills who can create effective opportunities for technical writers.
The next thing is to understand where we are heading as a profession. For this, there is a need to get involved into technical expertise, innovation and doing business. The first and foremost thing is to be recognized as division of development team. This requires you to be well versed with the technology being used. The second step is to make your existence felt on a managerial level, which needs innovation. You have to have business skills to show your contribution in generating a firm’s revenue. Attend meetings with the development teams and try and influence their decisions. You have to move out of your work place and understand the functioning of the business. Also, instead of wasting time on how a tool works, our focus should be on rational or intellectual skills and how we can make the most of it.
For those just beginning to enter this career, the foundation has already been laid. Now we carefully need to watch the path we take from here. Technical writing in India is not simply about gaining knowledge and writing about new technologies, products, services and processes. It’s about setting new business directions and motivating others and delivering results.
A technical writer’s job is to write technical jargons into easily understandable language for a common person. With the technology evolving and laypersons accessing scientific and technical products and services also on a rise, the necessity for technical writing is only going to go up. Because of the US economic recession and outsourcing to countries like India for cost cutting and time saving purposes, technical writers will be in great demand. So due to the demand for instruction manuals increasing, it is making technical writing a profitable career course for writers of India.
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