RE: certification

Subject: RE: certification
From: "Robert Wisbey" <robert-wisbey -at- scitech-consultants -dot- co -dot- uk>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Fri, 18 Apr 2003 00:22:13 +0200

Hi All,

This certification discussion is now dragging on a bit, but what the
heck, I'll join in !

I don't really think certification is necessary for "technical writing"
because (in addition to other reasons already mentioned in this thread):

- There are no consistent writing standards out there (different
companies have different writing standards, some companies have no
writing standards, and some companies have conflicting writing
standards). You just have to write consistently and format your
documents consistently.

- There are different authoring tools available (get certified or
trained in one, some, or all of them) and when you're
certified/qualified with one, some or all of them are you a good
technical writer ??? No, you know how to use these applications !

- Every technology is so diverse (some have common overlap). Get
qualified/certified/experienced in a certain technology or number of
technologies. This will bring bundles of quality to documenting
something technical. I don't want to mention the obvious reasons why
it's good to be qualified/certified/experienced in a certain technology.

>From my limited experience of being a freelance/contract technical
writer, if you want to become a certified "technical writer" then adhere
to the following points (there may be a little repetition from the above

- Gain or have the ability to learn technical concepts quickly.

- Understand the technology you are documenting. Does this mean you have
to be certified -- I don't really know -- in some cases maybe yes.
However, I am not MCSE certified but as capable/more capable than some
of my MSCE certified friends.

- Be a technology enthusiast and maintain your skill set in different
technology sectors. If you’re the bee's knees in SONET/SDH and DWDM
great -- but be careful, go learn other things like mobile
communications, etc. Study what technologies and technical products that
are COMMONLY used throughout different technology sectors -- that way
you can migrate yourself with ease from a sector that is flagging to a
sector that is booming.

- Understand the intended reader you are writing for and write in
appropriate fashion for the intended reader.

- Be able to write (to what level, I am not sure -- PLEASE DO NOT START

- Don't be afraid to ask SMEs questions (intelligent questions, that

- Keep SMEs from digressing onto something else when you are working
with them.

- Become an SME yourself !

- Stick to any "in-house" writing standards that exist, but play an
active role in discussing those standards with the documentation team if
you feel it's necessary. Understand that different companies or even the
same company but different departments have different writing standards
-- therefore gain or have the ability to consistently write for each
different project you may be working at any one time.

- If you are working within a large documentation team with a suite of
many documents, actively peer review other peoples documents for
technical and consistency issues.

- Don't be afraid to pull editors up on things who have made technically
incorrect comments (be nice of course), and don't be afraid to confront
editors trying to create different conflicting standards to a tech pubs
group based in another location who are working on the same project
(yes, it does happen -- honest).

- Be a diplomat and be enthusiastic about what you do.

- Accept criticism and never take things personally.

- Spend less time contributing to e-mail lists ;-) .

Okay, it just turned midnight here in sunny France so I am returning to
playing with BEA WebLogic. Huh, why is he playing with BEA WebLogic you
ask ?? To improve my skill set in a common technology of course (see
point above). Should I be playing with Oracle 9i Application Server you
ask ??? Hmmmm maybe, but BEA WebLogic inter-works with most of the
commercial databases including Oracle so I am "broadening" my
commonality skills !!!

Feel free to watch me fall asleep on my live web cam at !!!

Have a good bank holiday to those who have one at this time of the year

With Well Wishes,

Rob Wisbey.

-----Original Message-----
From: bounce-techwr-l-118026 -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com
[mailto:bounce-techwr-l-118026 -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com] On Behalf Of
kcronin -at- daleen -dot- com
Sent: 17 April 2003 22:35
Subject: RE: certification

Eric Dunn wrote:
>I've yet to see one certifiable skill that wouldn't be better
>certified by the specific industry than a techwriter

Andrew Plato wrote:
>The tech writing market is already flooded beyond capacity.
>Certifying will only artificially "raise the bar". The free market
>shall decide who is the best writers...and it is doing that right now.

I agree strongly with both of these posts.

And I maintain that a well-written resume and cover letter should make
your skills and accomplishments MUCH clearer to a potential employer
certification from some entity known only to tech writers ever could.

If you're good at this job, it's really not that hard to prove it.

Keith Cronin
Certify this.

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