Posted on 2 Comments

Are Daily Rates for Technical Writers Starting To Improve?

In December, I looked at the daily rates for technical writers and others in the tech comms industry. At the time daily rates for technical writers are down to $30 per hour in some places in the Bay Area.

However, maybe things are starting to turn around. In Ireland (Euro HQ for most US IT companies) Google has announced 150 new jobs, many in technical roles.  So, is the tide starting to turn?

Articles in Tech Comms publications and on other technical writing sites suggested  that daily rates for technical writers were collapsing in the US, in particular the West coast, as more writers struggle to find roles that match their previous salaries. TECHWR-L (tech-whirl), the oldest site that I know for technical writers, highlighted the case of a technical writer who’s been in the industry for 10 years and been jog-hunting for six months.

When asked what he thought where the tech docs industry was heading, his reply was, “it’s a race to the bottom”. 12 months ago, he left a high-paying tech writing job to travel but returned six months later, and looked for work.

Daily Rates for Technical Writing in California

His only job offer had been $30 an hour. Some recruitment sites quoted $40-$60 an hour. Quite a drop!

I know that when I last worked in the states, late 90s, the rates were $40-$60 per hour, and that’s almost 10 years ago.  It’s hard to believe that now, ten years later, and factoring in inflation etc, daily rates are almost cut in half.

Salary for Technical Writing in China

Salary for technical writers in China is between 15-30k RMB per month, which is approx $2.5k.

Not great by US standards but the cost of living here is much less.

Daily Rates for Technical Writing in India

According to a tech writer in Bangalore, the going rate in India is $10-15 an hour. http://www.techwr-l.com/node/1205

Jobs Trends

Many US colleagues have seen their jobs moved to India. In Europe (Ireland and UK) they tend to go to Poland as they have excellent English skills (yes, they do!) and lower tax rates.

India now produces a steady stream of qualified tech writers who are highly motivated and keen to make the most of this opportunity.

Last year I said that,  “as someone who works in Asia, and is seeing at first hand the juggernaut that is hurdling down the motorway, the race to outsource has only started.”

In the next 10-15 years, IT jobs which can be replicated offshore/offsite to lower costs will be embraced more aggressively. US companies have little choice but to do this.

The challenge for technical writers

The question for technical writers and others in this industry is how to approach this.  One suggestion would be to setup consultancy services in places like Bangalore, Vietnam, and Poland where the talent is there but the experience is lacking. Experienced technical writers, who are willing to travel and embrace a new challenge, could do very well in these countries. Staying at home may not be an option.

What do you think?

Should technical writers consider moving to places like India? Do you see signs that the recession is over. Are there more jobs for tech writers than last year?
Fire away below and share what you think.

Posted on

Does your technical writing have an accent?

Maybe you don’t hear your accent, but others do. When you read their documents, does the accent come through? Continue reading Does your technical writing have an accent?

Posted on 4 Comments

Are technical documents a waste of time?

“Don’t worry” she said. “No one reads this stuff anyway. Just get it done.” Sounds familiar? Continue reading Are technical documents a waste of time?

Posted on

How to Write a Target Audience Questionnaire

Creating a training plan? Before you do this, you need to step a step back and work out what your colleagues need to learn. Continue reading How to Write a Target Audience Questionnaire

Posted on

What’s the Highest Daily Rate You Can Get as a Technical Writer?

Singing DinosaursKnowledge is power. Knowing the daily rates of others in your industry helps you negotiate fees and get a better deal.

I’ve worked in the US, UK and now here in Asia and have seen a vast difference in the rates that writers work for.

Some of my friends in India work for $15 per hour, which works for them, while I know others in the Bay Area that are down to $25 per hour. Quite a drop as they were on $60 only 12 months back. Continue reading What’s the Highest Daily Rate You Can Get as a Technical Writer?

Posted on

Is the STC Value For Money?

STC LogoSarah O’Keefe (Scriptorium) discusses STC’s new dues structure: Dues are going up; Printed publications are no longer included in basic dues; No chapter or SIG membership are included in the basic dues.

She adds that while reaction is largely negative, she finds value from her STC membership and gives some examples and reasons to join/stay with the STC. I have to confess that I disagree her on most all points. Continue reading Is the STC Value For Money?

Posted on 2 Comments

Why the STC offers Technical Writers Value for Money!

Unemployment rate for US states in 2004
Image via Wikipedia

The STC recently increased its annual subscription rates to over $200 prompting howls of protest for technical writers.

In response to this, it has come out and defended its position by justifying the price increases. Here’s my take on the key points. Continue reading Why the STC offers Technical Writers Value for Money!