RE: Reality Check

Subject: RE: Reality Check
From: "Diana Ost" <Diana -dot- Ost -at- msmcorp -dot- com>
To: <j-m -at- creativeoptions -dot- com>, "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com>
Date: Tue, 8 Aug 2006 13:53:46 -0400

J-M wrote:

The questions are:

>How important is certification in securing a job or
contract/subcontract in IT/IS related positions, technical writing,
website development and such?

** Diana: My experience as a teacher in a university technical writing
program, at as told to me by my students, was that those who were trying
to break into technical writing from other fields had better luck
getting a tech writing job *more quickly* than before they had a
certificate from the USF program. (The certificate was not awarded based
on testing, but on completing classes and turning in a -graded- work

On the other hand, my experience as a tech writer is that my 20 + years
of experience means that I am not asked for that kind of information
when interviewing.

>Is it true that 7-10 years of experience in these areas is useless
without a certification?

** Diana: No, not in my experience. I was considered a professional
senior writer by the time I had seven years of experience in the field.

>Is it true that self education (I spend at least 3-4 hours and more a
day conducting my own training and education online) has no value? I'm
talking about the kinds of targeted training that's offered by, Adobe, Microsoft, etc. etc.

** Diana: I have found that kind of training to be valuable, and include
it on my resume when it seems pertinent.

>If certification is a requirement, which from the alphabet soup choices
and the various companies offering CBT Training, are most important for
a person who wishes to continue working in this field?

** Diana: It doesn't seem to be a requirement around here, but if it
was, I would lean toward university programs where you could learn
real-world subjects that would help you in your work, rather than
commercial "technical school" classes that may or may not be relevant.
But that's my bias, since I have taught such courses and my students
said it was valuable to them.

I am just wondering: how did some of you get from (what I read as) a
request for an opinion from each of us whether or not *in our experience
getting a job* certification was important, to "the debate over whether
*all* technical writers should be certified? The question was "How
important is (it) [implied "to you] [your] securing a
technical writing"; i.e., present tense, implied you, singular, not
plural. I didn't see anything about "should all technical writers be

Mebbe I missed it, but I don't think so....seems, um, a little
reactionary, and is cetainly not the topic I am addressing.

My $.02, your mileage may vary. All my text expressed my opinion only; I
don't speak for others or the company I work for.

Diana Ost
Technical Writer/Reporting Analyst

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