How Good Technical Writing Career is in 2022
Technical writer, a hitherto unheard-of term is now slowly becoming a sought-after career option in India. This blog is for those who are curious to know how good a technical writing career is and what it entails.
What is technical writing?
Technical writing is the art of being able to convert complex scientific jargon into language that the end audience can understand. It has now diversified into a lot of fields and has taken different forms. Technical writing is when scientific concepts or processes are explained to the layman using aids such as user manuals.
What does a technical writer do?
When technical writing emerged as a career in WWII, the primary purpose of a technical writer was restricted to conceptualizing and writing user manuals. These manuals helped consumers start, operate, and maintain products that necessitated such guidance in the form of text.
For example, if you buy a coffee machine today, the user manual it comes with, which helps you put together your machine and brew a cup of coffee, has been written by a technical writer. With advancements in science and technology and the need for content, this role has now diversified.
Today’s technical writers also dabble in writing content for the web, web design, multimedia, quick reference guides, grant proposals for research, and white papers. Technical writers now have to work in sync with computer hardware engineers, software developers, and computer support specialists during the development and testing of a product. They may also have to work with customer service managers to provide the best end-user experience.
In India, currently, no special qualification is required to do the job of a technical writer. Depending on your own skillset and aspiration to succeed, you can forge a path of how good a technical writing career is for you. Some useful must-have skills for an aspiring technical writer are as follows:
- Attention to detail
It is imperative that a technical writer be detail-oriented. Even while working with developers and product designers, it is important that a technical writer be able to break the process down to its very basics. The audience for a technical writer may be diverse. To generate material that is understood by all, understanding by the technical writer is a must.
- Ability to work in a team
Since a technical writer has to work with so many different people to create content for an entirely different audience. A technical writer, therefore, has to be able to glean adequate information from all team members before compiling the information into an easy-to-understand format. With globalization, a technical writer may have to be a team member with people from around the world.
- Oral and Written skills
What is a technical writer without a flair for writing? Technical writers should be able to communicate effectively. The entire premise of the job is that individuals who are experts at technical writing possess the ability to simplify complex concepts through their superior oral and writing skills.
They are also called technical communicators. They should also be willing to put hours into the reading of material to gain a better understanding of the technical terms that they are expected to write about.
- Design skills
With the growing importance of visual aids as a means to further augment the understanding of processes and product workings, a technical writer now also has to be skillful in creating infographics or design layouts.
Manuscripts that explain how to use a product are far more accepted by the consumer if they are accompanied by illustrations and an appealing design. Multimedia, such as videos, can also be created by a technical writer to help visual learners.
- Observational skills
A good technical writer needs to have keen observational skills. This is required to evaluate the product at hand. They should be observant enough to be able to relay information in a more concise manner.
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- Software and tools
Technical writers need to have good knowledge of how basic software programs and tools work. Microsoft Office, Adobe, and an organization’s specific software must be known to the technical writer as most of the work is done and formatted on these platforms.
- Well organized
Not only does the technical writer have to be well organized in order to better compile the required information, but also because they have to work with more than one subject matter expert. The user manuals are no longer written from a single-person perspective.
A technical writer needs to gain input from multiple subject matter experts and then have the ability to organize all the information efficiently.
- Ability to work under pressure
The life of a technical writer is ruled by deadlines. That, accompanied by the need to understand a lot of technical concepts, necessitates the ability to work under pressure.
- Technological knowledge
One cannot be a successful technical writer without a natural instinct to understand technology and related subjects. Being a subject matter expert oneself can be an added advantage. Having a bachelor’s degree in technology or software-related fields can work to the advantage of an aspiring technical writer.
Engineering or computer science-related knowledge may also give one writer an edge over the other.
Advantages of being a technical writer
This growing profession has a lot to offer. The following perks of being a technical writer will give you more insight into how good a technical writing career is.
- Lucrative option
Without a doubt, technical writing is slowly becoming a sought-after profession. The salary that one can get as a technical writer is also very good. A technical writer with 1-4 years of experience can earn an average annual compensation of close to Rs. 4 lacs. This can go as high as Rs 14 lacs annually after over a decade of experience in the field.
The salary for a technical writer has grown by 200% in the last couple of years, making this a solid career option. It also presents a good option for a secondary income or side hustle. A lot of freelancing opportunities are also available for a technical writer.
- Job stability
There are a lot of industries that now employ technical writers. They are not limited to technology or software-based industries. It is in its nascent phase in India but has a solid base. The profession will only continue to grow. The projection for employment in this profession is estimated to grow by 11% from 2020 to 2030.
This is much faster than the average for other professions, which is at 7%. So, if you choose to be a technical writer, you can rest assured that there will always be work.
- Career growth
There are over 6,000 job openings estimated over the next decade in this profession. It allows for a lot of growth. From starting as a fresh technical writer, one has the option of diversifying into being a proposal writer or a senior technical writer.
You can then further climb the ladder by being a Document manager or Document specialist. With the ever-changing nature of technology and increasing demand, this career is only looking at growth in the coming decades.
- Personal growth
Technical writers have to write about a lot of diverse subjects. It requires a lot of research and understanding of what you are going to write about. For example, you could be writing a technical draft on investing in cryptocurrencies today. Considering the advent of the metaverse, the next few years may see you writing user manuals for developers working on the metaverse.
The topics and range, therefore, are so diverse that a technical writer is constantly learning on the job. You will always have knowledge of the latest technology and will be well versed in it to be able to survive in this profession.
- Better work-life balance
Most technical writing jobs are full-time and have fixed timings. You are not expected to put in too many hours at work, as is expected of those in the healthcare sector, banking or law. However, it does depend on who you choose to work for and what kind of technical writing you have been employed for.
By and large, however, the pay is good for the hours and the work is not too strenuous. A good work-life balance can be achieved in this profession.
- Work is straightforward
There is very little margin for creativity in the field of technical writing. You have a product or a process, there is a concept behind it, and all you have to do is break it down for your audience. There isn’t a lot of room for confusion. The work is to the point and concise.
It relies heavily on the science and workings of things, leaving no place for creative freedom. This makes it easier to execute as the focus has to be laid only on removing the complexities from an existing process.
What is causing the growing requirement for technical writers in India?
It is an amazing career choice to make in India today. With growing salaries and requirements, it will surprise you how good a technical writing career is at the moment. There are so many factors causing the increase in demand. Listed below are a few of the reasons causing the growing requirement for technical writers in India:
- Technology boom
India is experiencing exponential growth in its technology sector. The IT industry continues to grow. This is creating a higher demand for associated occupations, such as that of a technical writer. The IT revolution has led to most technical writing jobs in India being predominantly focused on this industry.
- Power of outsourcing
India is also a preferred country for the outsourcing of technical writing. This has occurred due to the economic recession in the US. With growing companies focusing on technical writing, the experience of the workforce has also increased.
This has furthered the purpose of outsourcing to India, as good quality technical work is made available at decent prices for the customer. Most of India’s population is fluent in English, making them eligible for technical writing on a global platform.
- E-commerce growth
The pandemic and the rise of small businesses have contributed to the growth of the E-commerce sector. This niche also finds jobs for technical writers.
- Business deals
Good technical writing can now cause a business deal to fall through. Effectively written business proposals also fall in the purview of a technical writer. Companies recruit technical writers to be able to provide accurate information to stakeholders and business partners alike. The awareness that a technical writer is required to create good business has slowly come into the country.
Scope in India
There are so many career options to choose from once you decide to become a technical writer. The following opportunities demonstrate how good a technical writing career is in India. You can choose to be a technical writer in any of these niche markets or freelance across different sectors. There is no limit.
- Engineering field
There are over 4000 jobs on a popular job portal for technical writers in the engineering field in India. The job titles that one may get as an engineering technical writer include
- Principal technical writer
- Technical writer
- Technical editor
- Senior technical writer
- Hardware Techincal writer
Hardware technical writing jobs are a niche market with a lot of demand. It involves writing a DDLC (document development life cycle), which is a linear collection of phases that give concise information and make a well-structured technical document. Companies like Google have a great demand for computer hardware technical writers.
- Software Technical Writer
A software technical writer creates documents that teach people how to use a particular software. User guides, setup instructions, instruction manuals, online training material, release notes, new feature documents, how-to guides, and quick reference articles are all created by software technical writers.
The majority of software technical writers work for a company that provides software as a service (SaaS). Software as a Service (SaaS) company develops programs that are constantly updated through new plug-in releases and cloud services.
Software technical writers must document software modifications with each released version of the application. Because technical writers understand user demands and final objectives, they are invited to participate in the release planning phase.
- Medical technical writer
Pharmaceutical and healthcare companies require technical writers to write user manuals for many of their devices. You may also need to write SOPs for these companies and publish corporate communications. If you choose to become a technical writer in the healthcare sector, you may also have to draw up grant proposals for research.
- Banking and finance
Banks are constantly employing financial technical writers. These technical writers are entrusted with providing content that informs and analyses financial markets, the economy, and all things linked to money. Articles on various financial issues, thorough learning aids, and textbooks that can be assigned reading for students in a college course are all examples of content produced by a technical writer.
- Aviation Industry
The aviation industry requires technical writers. This is because it is an extensively documented domain requiring concise and specific instructions. This is what ensures the smooth running and operations that we observe at every airport. Even the busiest of airports cannot afford to make a mistake as the safety of their customers is of the utmost importance in this industry.
Technical writers ensure that the whole process at any airport runs like a well-oiled machine by properly documenting and outlining the guidelines and SOPs. It is a very responsible job. The quality of standards that need to be adhered to is high.
- Government Jobs
You can also land a job with the government as a technical content writer. This job profile will involve writing government policies and proposals. Thus, it is a job having a very high impact. Such jobs add to how good a technical writing career is in India.
- Telecom Sector
In the telecom sector, a technical writer is expected to write product information and documents. They also create guidelines, develop processes and manage projects.
1. Can you transition from another profession to becoming a technical writer?
Yes, you can choose to be a technical writer at any point in your career. There are courses available that can help you pivot your career in that direction. Some professions with an existing technical background may find the transition easier than others.
2. What are the common challenges that technical writers face?
The challenges faced by a technical writer include last-minute product changes, co-ordinating between the subject matter experts, lack of clarity of audience type, ill-defined product, etc. However, a skilled technical writer with good adaptability and organizational skills can easily overcome these obstacles.
3. Can a technical writer become a business analyst?
Yes. This is in fact a career goal with a lot of technical writers. Since they already have written communication skills that are par excellence, the transition to becoming a business analyst is relatively seamless. They only need to go through the training required to make them a qualified business analyst.
The technical writer is finding new opportunities every day in India. It is currently a sunrise industry and it will only get better. The ease of working, good salary, and vast opportunities contribute to how good a technical writing career is in this country. It also has a great global demand. Hence anybody with a keen interest in this field with the required skillset and education can create a good path for success.