Re: Just can't help myself

Subject: Re: Just can't help myself
From: Martin Bosworth <martinhbosworth -at- gmail -dot- com>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com>
Date: Wed, 27 Apr 2005 16:09:28 -0400


> Martin, Other communications professions are just as hard to pin down,
> cross many industries, and have the same amount of diversity as
> technical communications. And they've had professional accreditation or
> certification for decades-I received accreditation for PR in 1989-and I
> couldn't even apply to take the exam until I'd been practicing for a
> minimum of five years. IABC also has a very rigorous certification
> program, and business communications has to be about as diverse as it
> gets. So, whether or not you believe in certification, the argument that
> it's impossible because of the diversity of the profession doesn't hold
> water.

I would definitely cede to your experience in that matter. But if this
is the case, why haven't we achieved any kind of standard for TW
certification yet? Where would you begin? What would constitute our
best practices?

Is it really just because the man wants to keep us down? :) I'm only
being partially facetious--does a lack of standardization really allow
companies to determine what they think the tech writer should do, and
pay them accordingly?

> Writing is a minor part of my job, communications of all types take up
> the rest of my time.
> FYI, There are many companies who look at certifications the current
> panacea to organizational issues.... In those cases it doesn't matter
> whether or not a certification proves you can do what you say you
> can--your employer is holding it as a requirement for advancement. And I
> would venture to say that in those companies, the lack of available,
> credible certification merely adds to the misperception about the value
> (or lack thereof) of what we do.

That mindset will apply to ANY certification, if that's how the
company views its business. I applied for a PM job with a very
interesting company that provided technology solutions for nonprofits.
The hiring requirements mandated certification...and I later found out
they were offering less than what I was being offered as a regular
tech writer elsewhere. More work, more responsibility, less pay.

To every rule, there is an exception. That's why I am wary of applying
any sort of unified standard to the craft. But again, maybe I'm
drastically off base. I've already ascertained that I'll never be a
project manager. ;)


Martin H. Bosworth
Technical Writer, Telemedicine Directorate
Walter Reed Army Medical Center (
Writer/Editor, (


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RE: Just can't help myself: From: Giordano, Connie

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