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Certification, applied objectively, can do a lot to increase credibility.
Examples are in the IT field, where an A+ is generally required before
anyone can touch the inside of a computer, and a Network+ before anyone can
touch a network component. The certifications are not proof of expertise,
but rather of basic knowledge--primarily that the cert holder won't break it
any more than it is broken already. As opposed to the helpful wannabes who
ignore ESD to wiggle a NIC to "see if it makes it work" and zap a perfectly
Specifically related to technical writing, certification would establish a
basic skill set that every TW should have to get in the door. There are a
rather large number of people entering the field after graduation from a
university with the primary qualification of having managed to get out of
bed often enough to show up for enough "technical communication" classes to
get passing grades, and now consider themselves "technical communicators,"
based on completion of four semesters of Underwater Basketweaving.
Of course, those people will be unable to hold jobs, be exposed as
incompetents, and ... (fill in the blanks). That is largely wishful
thinking, because it presupposes the employer can tell the difference
between "good" writing and "mediocre" writing in a reasonable period of
time, and really cares. Many do not, and tech comm graduates who can type
fast, smile often, and display an appropriate amount of self-confidence can
often last for months before anyone realizes they are really clueless.
Especially if he or she is willing to work for $10-12/hr to have "technical
writer for xyz company" on future resumes.
Is certification a good idea? YES! Establish a skill set necessary for
entry-level, intermediate, and expert, independently documented. The only
real opposition to certification would be from those who think they would be
weeded out by the process.
Given that 150+ colleges and universities are cranking out new "technical
communicators" at an alarming rate, someone is going to have to do something
along those lines fairly soon, or the field is going to flooded out of
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