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I would LOVE a professional organization to offer some sort of
professional certification (non-tool based) for technical writers. I don't care what
it's called as long as it's rigorous. Here's why:
There are bad technical writers out there. Ones who change fonts for a
living. Ones who think they're going to be famous mystery writers
someday, which they say is their real calling, and they're just
condescending to pretend to be a technical writer. I hate it when coworkers pre-suppose I
am one of *those* technical writers. Call it snobism if you want, but in
ANY field, there are quacks. In ANY field there are professionals who
feel their legitimacy threatened by incompetant persons claiming to be equals
in the field. Certifications exist in most fields to legitimize the
professionals who know their stuff and can prove it.
Each new job I've ever started, I've had to work extremely hard to prove
that I wasn't like the last tech writer chick they had...the one who
painted her nails while waiting for the SMEs to drop bulleted lists of
notes on her desk. The one who quoted Shakespeare to the developers
during design meetings because they felt inferior, and wanted to prove that they could
"beat" their colleagues technical banter with more sophisticated
I want to be able to immediately stand out from that pack. I would hope I
could pass a gruelling test/ provide portfolio samples/ turn in references
to a board of top-notch technical communicators who would evaluate
everything and say, "Yes, she is one of the REAL technical writers."
For example, *it means something* to colleagues and employers when they
see you have your PMC or MCSD. They immediately understand you have a decent
level of compentency in your field. They admire the process you went
through to earn the certification. Why can't we devise some way of
evaluating people on best practices/ test them to make sure they
understand different theories/ evaluate them subjectively on things that can't be
measured objectively. Make a certain number of hours/ years/ time as a
professional technical writer be required to even submit yourself for
consideration for certification.
By the way, I'm not expecting a certification to give me a free license
for the rest of my career to be labeled as an excellent technical writer. I
still expect to have to prove myself on the job, and enjoy doing so. I
just want a way to set myself apart from the wannabes, to save myself the
immediate grief and disrespect that comes from new coworkers who had bad
experiences with wannabes in the past.
Why is this unreasonable?
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