Not again: certification

Subject: Not again: certification
From: "Lurker writer" <lurker_writer -at- hotmail -dot- com>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Tue, 17 Apr 2001 07:16:27 -0500

I have researched, written, and presented on certification for technical writers in the past. Bottom line: any kind of generic "certified technical writer" generated zero interest with hiring managers in my informal survey conducted back in 1996. A "CTW" designation would not make any difference in hiring or promotion. The respondents argued that a bachelor degree should be sufficient and they expect TWs to already have the basics. But, what would "influence" their decision to hire or promote would be specific certification in a product (Adobe FrameMaker Expert as one example) or a methodology (Information Mapping, ISO 9000, etc.).

Seems like the only people who think certification has merit are those who are still looking to validate what it is they do. STC involvement? My feeling is that the STC should stay out of the certification thing altogether. But, if people really need to have another plaque hanging on their cube wall to justify their existence, then a certification program must provide for the short-term and long-term job prospects for those holding the certification. It must be robust enough to differentiate the skill levels from those who don't have certification. Overall, it must benefit those who have paid for it (through training and exams) by providing actual (versus perceived) value-add for career development.

Let's also not forget that certification represents a snapshot it time of knowledge and skill level. Things have a habit of changing rapidly in this environment, and a certification program (a viable one anyway) would have to undergo continuous evolution to stay current.

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