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A writing career is more lucrative than you think
Sherin Mammen
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September 14, 2007

Yesterday, in Part I of this article, we discussed journalism, copywriting, script-writing, corporate communications and e-learning instructional design as career options for writers. Today, we look at a few more options available to them:

Technical Writing

The world is rapidly developing and making technological breakthroughs. With every new product and innovation, companies find it difficult to keep their customers updated about the product's advantages and functions. Technical writers make things easier by writing about these products in a style which is easily understood by the common man. They develop product manuals, appendices and catalogs. Technical writers also have to select the right photographs, diagrams, illustrations or graphs for their documents.

A career in this line also involves writing on various technology-related topics such as information technology, aerospace, robotics, telecom and electronics, biotechnology, computers (hardware and software) etc.

Most software firms in India advertise for technical writers on major jobsites. The pay scale for technical writing is similar to instructional design. You can start with a salary ranging from Rs 12,000 to 15,000 per month, depending on how well you have done in your written test and interview.

Creating web content

Writing for the electronic medium is different from the print medium. Web readers have a short attention span and generally scan the web pages rather than read each word carefully. Also, reading from a computer screen is much slower than reading a newspaper. Therefore, your writing has to be simple, crisp and to the point. The writing can be combined with graphics, bullets, captions, hyperlinks, highlights etc to make the page more attractive. Web writing does not encourage lengthy content, so the word count should be limited.

As a content developer, you can join a dot com or any company that requires dedicated staff to develop, manage and update its website content.

Mr. Biju Mathew, Head of Content at, says that the starting salary for web writers is in the range of Rs 10,000 to 15,000.

Resume writing

A resume introduces a prospective employee to the employer. It should grab the attention of the employer and project the candidate as perfect for the job. Remember, employers are not looking for a fancy resume; they are looking for the right skills in an individual who can add value to their organisation.  Not everyone can come up with the perfect resume. As writing skills are not essential for every job, most often people applying for jobs may not be great writers and may therefore end up creating a shoddy resume. Such people need professional help and seek the services of qualified resume writers who can present their skills well.

Resumes could be on paper or in an electronic format that is available to head hunters on various job sites. The electronic format is more popular, considering its easy access.

Most online jobsites like,, and employ resume writers to help job seekers.

"Professional resume writers can expect to get a starting salary of Rs 10,000 and above," says Sujit Mahadevan*, who works for a major headhunting firm.

Science writing

Scientific writers assist scientists and researchers to write research papers, articles in scientific journals, presentations, lab reports, design reports, progress reports, theses, dissertations, proposals instruction manuals etc. Science writing is often specialised, as the documents require a high degree of accuracy in the presentation of facts. A badly written piece could misinterpret facts and spread the wrong information. A scientific writer must ensure that the ideas or facts are conveyed well and improve the overall quality of a document.

Scientific writers must be precise, clear and objective. Knowledge of the subject you are writing on is a must. You must also be a keen observer and keep your mind open to understand subjects and acquire knowledge.

You can look through job sites or the employment news section in newspapers for vacancies for a scientific writer. Remuneration for scientific writers varies with expertise and skill.

Ghost writing

Have you ever wondered how famous personalities from different walks of life come up with well-written memoirs and autobiographies? All of them may not be great writers. Most of them don't really sit and pen down their thoughts. They communicate their thoughts to a writer who is paid to write for them. These ghost writers, as they are called, don't get credit for authoring the book. They may, at times, be acknowledged by the person they are writing for or the publisher of the book for their help. Ghost writers are hired for writing books, stories, memoirs, autobiographies, magazines articles, reports, editorials and songs.

A chance to ghost write comes mostly with contacts.

The remuneration for ghost writers is negotiable and varies with experience and skill.

What you need to know before you apply for a writing job

Most writing jobs require a person to have a degree in English or mass communication. In technical writing, knowledge of the technical subject is an added advantage. Journalism requires you to be well-read and updated about news from around the world. Almost all the jobs mentioned above require some experience or knowledge of computer software and desktop and electronic publishing. The remuneration for each job is highly competitive and once you make a mark in the field you get to demand the best in the industry.

The recruitment process for most writing jobs includes a written test (to test your general writing skills and specific competencies required in the field), interview by a functional expert (such as a content head or creative director) and an HR interview.

With so many options available to writers, those who are gifted with a flair for it should not find it difficult to take it up as a career.

*Names changed to protect privacy.

Part I: Career options for budding writers

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