Technical writing and growth opportunities in IT industry
Have you been told that technical writing as a profession is not exciting and the job is monotonous? Do you think that technical writers are not well paid and do not grow into high positions? Are you under the impression that the competition for this profession isn’t as fierce as it is for other IT jobs? Yes? Then you are gravely mistaken and misguided like many others like many others.
Opportunities in the IT industry:
Firstly one has to understand that writing is enjoyed by many of us and more of us have become bold to express our feelings in words out in the open. Once a person realizes they are good at expressing in the written form, taking to technical writing happens as easily as a fish takes to water. In the IT world there is an urgent and serious need of good technical writers.
When you attend an interview for a technical writer position you will notice many co-aspirants. But amongst the chaos only a handful few (even lesser compared to other IT interviews) make it to the consequent rounds. Reason: Companies are looking for WRITERS and not people who can use and learn to use tools. There is a dearth for quality technical writers, which is why you will see companies floating adverts for the same positions for a long time.
In IT alone there is a need for technical writers who can write about computer hardware and software, robotics, and ITeS (service industry). While Computer H/W and SW, and robotics give the opportunity to a technical writer to be involved in the complete DDLC cycle, ITeS mostly requires them to author standard operating procedures.
Once you’ve gained experience, depending on your performance and your strengths you can be asked to become a:
Developer documentation: These kind of technical writers are mostly hired at product based companies. They are entrusted high end technical tasks, like writing technical documents for developers and other technical experts. To be able to write for such an audience you should have gained an amount of technical expertise yourself.
Business analyst: As a business analyst you will prepare all kinds documents like, graphs, presentations, reports, statistics, finances and other business activities of a company. You will be highly valued as you will be the one people will come for numbers.
RFP Writer: Writing RFP is an expertise on its own. RFP mainly involves writing the price list of products and services for vendors who will bid for contracts of the company you work for. This is an exceptionally critical job and requires high levels of honesty, integrity and ethics.
Senior technical writers: Having gained a good amount of experience in the field of technical writing you can move on to become a Sr. technical writer. As a Sr. Technical writer you will take up project management and involve yourself in operations of the team of technical writers reporting under you. You will also be entrusted with the responsibility of editing/proof reading.
These are only a handful of positions you can aim at, there are other competitive positions one can target in the field of technical writing.
As a technical writer inIndiakeep in mind:
- To have a good command over the English language.
- To develop a strong analytical mind.
- To have a never ending thirst for knowledge.
- To not feel embarrassed to ask any kind of question.
- To listen more and talk less.
Like other IT jobs which are outsourced to India, Technical writing when outsourced also reaps benefits for the company. Eventually opportunities for more technical writers increase. Indian technical writers are known to be trained and mentored on precision of presentation. Also having the benefit of learning English in school most of them do not face hassles having to express in English.
With these benefits technical writing will be outsourced by more number of English speaking nations to India thus increasing job opportunities.
Earning capacity of technical writers:
If I say that the technical writers are amongst one of the highest paid, I am telling you the truth. As a beginner you will draw early 6 figure salary. Within 2 years you will double your remuneration as long as your performance has been up to the company standards. There has been a rise of 25%-40% in salaries since the year 2003. This rise is attributed to the sharp increase in the need for technical writers.
A Sr. technical writer (4-7 years experience) stands to earn in the mid to upper mid 6 figures package. If you are able to author the most persistently notable documents which are able to add or create value of a company through brand image writing, then you become a prized asset.
The company will never be willing to let go off you and will do all within its power to keep you happy. To enjoy this kind of treatment you must be persuasive with your writing. Also because you know most of the company’s critical information it’s not advisable for the company lose you.
The profession of technical writing follows the same mantra as all other professions. As long as your performance proves your skills you will be paid the best the industry has to offer.
High end learning curve and a Global career opportunity
As discussed earlier, a technical writer should have a never ending thirst for knowledge. One should not shy away from asking questions, no matter how unimportant you or others may think they are. A technical writer stands to gain a lot more other than experience and a good pay package.
You will soon realize that you are able to easily converse or express views on many topics. This knowledge is attributed to the fact that you will work on various projects and all each one of them dealing with a new product, technology, service or all. Over a period of time this will give you an edge over others. In interviews you will successfully be able to exhibit yourself as a well-read and aware technical writer.
If you want to move technically in writing the best is to concentrate on a certain technology. The more specific you get with technology the more you become indispensable in the company. You interact with technical architects and vertical heads holding critical positions. IT industry thrives on multi tasking. So along with being a technical writer if you can master a technology or two (not in terms of hands on experience) you will be presented with galore of opportunities.
Technical writing principles remain the same everywhere in the world. When a service company acquires a new project from outside ofIndiachances to travel arise. You can either travel on transition, which is usually a span of 4-6 months, or even go on long term onsite assignments (these are not as frequent). Working abroad is also possible as not all companies outsource their technical writing jobs due to the risk of confidentiality. You will have to team up with the right consultancy to land the job.
Technical writing is here to stay. Simple, constant innovations in the field of technology and with more number of people keen on buying the latest products and gadgets. Companies want their consumers to be educated about their products and services. To operate technology clear and precise instructions are needed. In come the technical writers and flourishes their profession
Learn to be consistent and be good at what you are doing and you will surely excel.
Freelance and consulting
As a technical writer you have the choice of working as a freelancer if you are unable to attend a daily job. This job gives you ample opportunity to work from home. Travel is scarce and you are expected on site mostly during KTs, reviews, meetings or presentations. As you earn a name and are able to create a brand you can turn into a consultant.
If you are good at networking and are able to maintain cordial relations with the clients you work for you can be assured of being called time and again. Build a team of technical writers as your work grows. Lend them as contractors to the clients. This way you not only will you earn but also will provide employment to few others.
Not all companies have a huge technical writing team. Smaller companies prefer freelancers/contractors or get in touch with consultants to hire a technical writer. Smaller companies view hiring full time/permanent technical writers as an overhead cost as their need is not large.
If you are technical writer in any of the large MNCs you do not have to worry about job security/stability. But if you are a freelancer/contractor chances are for your services to be terminated first to save costs. But given the rise and the future need of technical writers you will always be able to find job.
Job security/stability in the IT field is always a question as we have witnessed how companies, to save costs, terminated services of employees during the recession periods in 2000-2002 and 2009. Employees were asked to leave irrespective of the field they were working in. So the axe need not necessarily fall on you first.
So, if you want to be a technical writer:
- Get introduced to your audience.
- Interact with the experts and technicians.
- Know what is expected of you.
- Free your writing of errors.
- Keep your writing clear and precise.
- Learn about what you have to write.
- Know what resources to use.
- Organize and format your writing per company standards.
- Be consistent.
- Incorporate feedback and comments.
Here’s wishing you luck for a great career in technical writing.