International faces of technical communication: An analysis of job postings in three markets

Brumberger, E. & Lauer, C.
Society for Technical Communication

Purpose: This article investigates technical/professional communication job postings in two non-US markets in order to develop an evidence-based understanding of the ways in which job requirements and responsibilities may differ from those in the US. Method: We analyzed 474 job postings in India and the United Kingdom/Ireland. We conducted a content analysis of the postings, coding for information products, technologies, professional competencies, and personal characteristics. We compared postings to postings for the US, utilizing ANOVA and CHI square measures to evaluate whether differences in the data were meaningful. Results: The study reveals substantial variation regarding employer expectations. US postings are characterized by higher experience levels and more qualifications than postings for the international markets, with greater focus on user documentation and reports, working with SMEs, usability/testing, technology, and personal characteristics. The Indian postings are the most distinct from the US positions, with differing experience levels and emphasis on what qualifications are important. Conclusion: The study emphasizes a need for greater understanding of international technical communication and the ways outsourcing may impact career choices. The variation across markets suggests that we cannot assume standard practices in the US transcend linguistic, geographical, and cultural boundaries. This is important both for meeting the challenges of outsourcing and for international collaborations more broadly. The study also highlights the need for curricula to address the complexities of a global workplace by providing students with both technical communication and intercultural competencies.