Technical Writing in India: Is it as good as anywhere else?
Technical Writing generally translates to a piece of writing that conjures up an image in the mind of a layman about any device or software application.
In other words, the job profile of a technical writer involves writing and designing user guides, brochures and white papers for a plethora of products.
Though these procedures are not new, their categorisation under the term “Technical Writing” is quite recent. The latest entrant in the software field is not a whiz kid from IIT, but might be a journalist or an English literature graduate. This option is here to stay, what with India slowly accepting the prospect of technical writing as a full-fledged career at par with more popular contenders.
Now, the Indian technical writing scenario would seem very bleak for an onlooker who doesn’t delve deeper into the layers. This field was practically unknown till the 1990s. Tata Consultancy Services was a pioneer in creating a need for the current crop of technical wordsmiths.
Over a decade old, this profession does not have many takers, but does boast of a strong following in the various metros. In Bangalore the number is believed to be 500-600. Even by an optimistic view, the number of technical writers across the nation would be approximately 6000. These statistics prove that, corporate bosses and the software industry as a whole recognized the need for a specialized documentation team very lately.
The technical writing job has long come out of the confines of being a strict documentation-related activity. In some organisations, technical writers are asked to pitch in for test case development, product testing, creating API code, creating java documentation etc.
More recently, a technical writer has grown to don the garb of a graphic designer, web-content developer etc. Since a technical background is not a prerequisite for a technical writer, many writers foray into the field even with a Humanities background.
The one and only criterion, going by the current Indian standards, would be a firm grasp over the Queen’s language and a strong analytical mind. The prevalent need, is however to meet International standards in English usage. US companies recognise the need for a trained technical writer and that adds to the hiring and training impetus for technical documentators.
The US provides a lot of scope and opportunities for training and specialized study of the subject. In comparison, Indian universities shy away from offering unconventional and lesser-known courses aka Technical writing. The technical writers, who already exist in the industry having created a golden niche, are fast emerging as the “trainers” for this career option. Some of the Indian universities like the Calicut University and the Mumbai University have woken up to this profession and have included the subject in their curricula.
This trend, may give the Technical Writing profession the impetus it requires. The final recruiters, Corporates, MNCs need to step in boldly to hire and provide customized training to fresh technical writers.
This might beckon the golden dawn for Technical Writing in India!
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