When I started my career as a Technical Writer in the year 2005, hardly anything was known about Technical Writing. Often, at gatherings of friends or family functions, I would be asked by curious minds, “is there any scope for success at all in this field?”. After all, most of them had heard about it for the very first time in their life.
Cut to 2022; calling it one of the “most sought-after career choices” is not exaggerating it one bit. Sounds unbelievable, doesn’t it? Well, at Razorpay, we had over 200 applicants (just-out-of-college-grads) for 4 open positions in a campus recruitment drive that we undertook earlier this year. That speaks for itself.
How it started…
Let us go back a bit to understand how this evolution happened. India was emerging as the new IT hub in the late 90s and early 2000s. A lot of multinational companies set foot in India, recognizing the human capital that it had to offer. India was churning out engineers in massive numbers who could deliver high-quality work at a lesser cost than any of the western countries. Owing to this, a lot of software development, software testing, and maintenance work started flowing in. There was a catch, though. The developed software was being shipped overseas without any documentation or sometimes with documents written by engineers themselves and would often go unchecked for spelling, grammar, language, and document structure errors. This gave rise to a mammoth problem – clients who had little or no written material to refer to.
By the mid-2000s, industry leaders had recognized this problem. Companies started actively hiring people who could do documentation professionally. These professionals brought in format, structure, and a uniform tone, ensuring that the documentation was as per standard industry guidelines. It was not that difficult to find such professionals in India; after all, English has been part of India’s culture for over two centuries. In fact, India scored an edge over countries like the Philippines or China because of the nation’s familiarity with the English language.
Just like software development, software testing, and maintenance, software documentation work also started to flow in. Teams grew in size. Work opportunities increased multifold. By the end of the first decade of the 2000s, Technical Writing and Technical Communication had evolved into a serious career option with tremendous growth opportunities.
What it is today…
According to Occupational Outlook Handbook for Technical Writers, a report published in September 2022, there were 55,400 Technical Writer jobs floated in the year 2021, with the projected percent change in employment from 2021 to 2031 at 6%, greater than the average growth rate for all occupations (5%). What’s more, the salary being offered is also very lucrative, with entry-level pay ranging from ₹ 4,00,000 to ₹ 7,50,000 annually.
Another lucrative factor about Technical Writing is that it offers great workplace flexibility because of the nature of the job. Although technical writing requires collaboration with Engineers, Testers, and Project Managers, the dependability is only limited to information gathering. The actual authoring work can be done relatively independently, and so, a lot of companies do offer remote working possibilities for this role.
So, how do you get started with Technical Writing?
Typically, you must have a Bachelor’s degree to gain an entry-level position in this field. A degree in Computer Science, Mass Communication, English, or Engineering may have a slight advantage. Also, if you have a domain-specific degree, you will have an edge over others. For example, a fintech company like Razorpay may prefer candidates with a degree in Finance.
Many institutions offer basic and advanced courses in Technical Writing. Such courses help you in getting your basics right. Also, the certificate thus obtained will help in gaining entry into the industry much easier. You could also try such certificate courses on online learning platforms such as Udemy, Unacademy, or Coursera. Here are some of the popular courses that you can find online:
Technical Writing: Quick Start Guides on LinkedIn Learning
Henry Harvin Institute
It is very important to start your career in an organization where your skills and interests meet. You may be a very skilled writer, but if the domain that you get into is not of your interest, survival itself becomes a challenge, leave alone success.
And so, zero in on the companies where both your skills and interests are taken care of. Create a compelling CV that brings out these two factors and start applying. The struggle is only till you set foot in your first workplace. Technical Writing will then take you places!
The journey ahead…
Technical Communication, as a function, has matured over the years and offers tremendous growth opportunities. There are plenty of examples of people who have moved to the role of a Senior Writer from an Associate Writer within 3-4 years! The field also offers roles such as Lead Writer, Principal Writer, Documentation Manager, and even Director (Documentation) as you move up the corporate ladder.