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Article by Mohan Babu


Title:  Companies seek engineers as tech writers

Tech writing is a much-talked-about emerging career option.  MOHAN BABU writes about the changes in recruitment trends for tech writers as organisations now look for engineers—and not just English graduates.

As a technologist and a writer, I continue to scan the landscape for happenings and trends in this vibrant field and thought I’d dedicate this column to a trend that has been in the West for a long time but has caught on in India during the past four or five years. The trend I am talking about is the coming of age of tech writing (that is TW for those in the vocation). I had been observing the trends in this nascent sub-segment of IT for a while and began looking more closely after reading the article “Technical writing: On the ‘write’ note” published in Express Computer. I also began researching this topic by talking with a few Indian tech writers and then corresponding with several others over e-mail.

What is tech writing and who are the pioneers in India? Rahul Prabhakar, technical writer with the CRM group at Oracle India, Bangalore feels that technical writing has come a long way in India. He adds, “Not many people were fully aware, especially in this part of the world, until the need for good documentation was realised and hard-felt by several product development organisations across the country. There was also a major initiative to control the rising cost on the support and reduce customers’ dissatisfaction. Now, several services and product development organisations hire technical writers to streamline their line of business across all verticals. But sadly, it still remains a support function in most software development organisations.”

Drawing from the article, to quote Ravishankar R, manager for the documentation group, Global Development Centre at Cisco India: “Till the 1990s technical writing was unknown in India. TCS was the first to recognise the need for technical writers and began developing a documentation team. At first engineers entered this field and they were responsible for technical writing. The trend changed with market conditions and a combination of communication and technical skills is becoming mandatory. Experience in using new tools such as RoboHelp and FrameMaker for creating content became an added advantage.

Though a career in writing requires a strong grounding in grammar, fundamental study of the language (English) and an understanding of the basics, a stronger functional and technical focus is increasingly becoming the norm. Where earlier people with liberal arts and English background were preferred, companies are increasingly looking to hire engineers and functional specialists with a flair for writing. Saravanan Manoharan, a technical documentation Engineer with think3 Designs, a BTech, Computer Science, graduate says, “Some five years back, to be a technical writer an English background was a must. But with emerging technologies, companies look for tech writers with engineering background. Before, they used to recruit tech writers with English background, ask them to undergo an induction programme for one or two months to learn the technologies and then start the documentation work. Now, they are trying to recruit tech writers with engineering background, so they can shorten the induction programme to start with documentation work right away.”

This trend in the increasing demand for high-quality tech writers is only bound to continue as Indian organisations undertake more high-end technology focused work. Increasing focus on product development would mean a renewed interest in documentation and consequent need for documentation experts. Similar will be the need for documentation experts as we move up the value chain in other segments of the technology spectrum too. This shift in focus also means that individuals are increasingly opting for tech writing as a mainstream career choice instead of landing a job in this field because of lack of alternatives. Professional bodies like the Society for Technical Communication (STC) and Technical Writers of India (TWIN) are also gaining prominence with members using the common forums to network, further the profession and seek better opportunities. There are also several yahoo groups and online forums where technical writing professionals exchange notes.

Academies and training institutions in several major metros have also caught on the trend and are beginning to provide training in this nascent field. Though such training courses continue to be a small blimp in the whole IT training segment, they are making strides nevertheless. As I mentioned towards the beginning of this column, the tech writing is poised for takeoff and opportunities abound.





About the Author

  • A Bio and profile of the author, Mohan Babu, can be found at his homepage
  • Mohan has authored a book on Offshoring and Outsourcing (Publisher McGraw Hill, India), a link to which can be found here
  • Mohan has also authored an Online book on "Life in the US," available for free download.
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    ©Mohan Babu: All Rights Reserved 2005

    Mohan Babu is an international consultant trying to find the ‘sweet spot’ where IT meets business. E-mail: mohan He is also the author of a recent book on "Offshoring IT Services"

    All rights are reserved. Mohan Babu ("Author") hereby grants permission to use, copy and distribute this document for any NON-PROFIT purpose, provided that the article is used in its complete, UNMODIFIED form including both the above Copyright notice and this permission notice. Reproducing this article by any means, including (but not limited to) printing, copying existing prints, or publishing by electronic or other means, implies full agreement to the above non-profit-use clause. Exceptions to the above, such as including the article in a compendium to be sold for profit, are permitted only by EXPLICIT PRIOR WRITTEN CONSENT of Mohan Babu. 

    Disclaimer: This document represents the personal opinions of the Author, and does not necessarily represent the opinion of the Author's employer, nor anyone other than the Author. This Article was originally published in Express Computers


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