Re: Certification: Ernest and Scribbler

Subject: Re: Certification: Ernest and Scribbler
From: Steven Jong <stevefjong -at- comcast -dot- net>
To: techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com
Date: Sat, 24 Jul 2010 11:44:26 -0400

While I don't want to oversell certification, I don't want to see it undersold, either. Some commenters on this topic have asserted that because technical communication is such a broad field, certification is necessarily so vague as to be meaningless and therefore worthless as any kind of predictor of success to potential employers. Some have even asserted that no technical certification has value. This is not true.

I wouldn't go so far as to say that certification trumps the interview process. However, as others have pointed out, certification can help get you past HR. Further, given two equally qualified candidates, certification can, and in other professions often does, make the difference. (Some people here have argued, philosophically, that it shouldn't. I disagree. But to heck with philosophy--look at polls of hiring managers. It does make a difference.) And in a global market, you can't always interview the people who do work for you. If you want to engage a third-party firm, do you get to interview their staff members? No. How do you know if they're good? Increasingly, certification plays a role in that question, too. Do companies actually ask, or want to ask, how many certified technical communicators vendors have on staff? Let me put it this way: yes.

What about after the hiring decision? Will certification predict whether a technical communicator will do a good job? I can only argue by analogy. But in other professional and technical fields, certification has significant measurable financial value to employers, practitioners, credentialing associations, and the public. I'm talking money, folks. Employers find certified professionals more valuable, so they compete for them, and thus have to pay them more than uncertified professionals to get them. You'd better believe we looked at this as part of our information gathering, and we saw no reason why this pattern won't hold for technical communicators.

-- Steve

Steven Jong, Chair
STC Certification Committee

mailto:SteveFJong -at- comcast -dot- net

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