Hi, my dear readers. I’m sorry that I was unable to update this blog as often as I should. Last year, I started this blog to keep track of what I’ve learned and how I’ve developed in technical writing. One year later, I was eventually hired as a technical writer. I’m very excited at the opportunity to put what my unique skill set into real-world projects. That’s being said, I’m going to write more posts that are closely related to work practices in the future.
I’m an English major with a master degree in English Literature. For what I can tell, the majority of graduates from the English department in China seek employment in the fields of education, translation, office administration etc.
In my efforts to break into professional writing, I find that my language background is a neutral factor. At the current job market, some employers find a language major with swift technical aptitude to be a valid candidate, while others insist on a strong technical background, for example, a degree in engineering, telecommunications or computers science.
Professional technical communicators in the blogosphere have been debating over the value of a formal education in technical communication. Unfortunately, universities in China that offer courses in professional communication are few and far between. That’s why there is a gap between the employer’s expectation and what the potential employee can offer.
I’ve kept my eyes on technical communication in China for a while now. I’ve known practitioners who are hired straight out of school. There are also late comers like myself who make deliberate yet thoughtful efforts in breaking into the field. However, it is not always an easy ride. My first shot at becoming a technical writer was not successful, but I didn’t give up.
In my previous position, I parlay my language skills into translation of technical documentation. However, planning, writing, editing, translating and publishing are all indispensable parts of the documentation life cycle. I firmly believe that my experience in technical translation has a very positive impact on my current job in the long run.
Technical Writing in China
From what I know, location is a decisive factor in seeking employment, even more so than in America. The need to recruit technical writers, be it staff writer, independent contractor or freelance writer is highly concentrated in tech hubs such as Beijing, Shanghai, Hangzhou and Shenzhen. If you’re serious about becoming a technical writer, relocating is a must.
The reality is that technical writing is still not a full-fledged professional in China. It’s worth noticing that the employers are most likely to be foreign companies who recognize the value to produce quality documentation in English.
In China, the professional support channel for technical writers is almost non-existent unless you’ve already landed a technical writer position in the first place. Thankfully, I can learn from many active professional communicators from America, UK, Canada, Germany and India.
I follow dozens of technical writing blogs closely, which are contributed by individual writers, help authoring tool vendors as well as professional associations. I also keep tabs on professional publications, podcasts and seminars. By getting myself emerged in best practices and industry trend, I hope that I can make a contribution to promote and develop technical communication in China.
What’s your impression on technical writing in China? Whether you are an ambitious new writer who’s also trying to break into the filed or a seasoned technical writer with years of experience, I would love to see you comments on this blog.