Re: STC certification: what's in it for tech writers?

Subject: Re: STC certification: what's in it for tech writers?
From: Steven Jong <stevefjong -at- comcast -dot- net>
To: "Porrello, Leonard" <lporrello -at- illumina -dot- com>
Date: Thu, 27 Oct 2011 13:02:19 -0400

I am using Gene's figures to consider the ROI of a degree versus a certification. If requiring a specific degree is a gating factor to getting a job, certification won't replace it. All I'm saying is that certification helps you stand out among the set of qualified applicants, which is unfortunately quite large these days. If, using Gene's back-of-the-envelope figures, certification gets you a 25% edge, it would have a darn better ROI than the degree that gets you the other 75%.

Whether having to have some degree is a gating factor or not is open for debate. As it happens, my father, who worked on missile systems whose names you would recognize today, was a successful technical writer without even a high-school diploma. But that was another era, and when we first started talking about certification, I thought that we should require a BS and five years of experience. (#honoringthyfatherfail 8^( When I took that idea on the road, I had people get in my face and practically shout at me that having a degree is NOT a gating factor. Subsequent research showed that setting the bar that high would lock out a significant number of working practitioners. So we didn't do that.

-- Steve

--
Steven Jong ("Typo? What tpyo?")
SteveFJong -at- comcast -dot- net
978-413-2553 [C]
Home sweet home page: StevenJong.net





On Oct 27, 2011, at 12:40 PM, Porrello, Leonard wrote:

> While most of Steve's arguments are cogent, the certification vs. degree ROI argument is specious. Having a degree is a gating factor for the vast majority of tech writing jobs. Without a degree, you don't even get an interview. So while certification may make a degreed writer more attractive (and be particularly important for someone with a degree in engineering or science), for those writing jobs that do not require a degree, certification is arguably not going to make a difference. In short, certification can't stand on its own. Granted that, you can't factor its value alongside criteria that do stand alone.
>
> -----Original Message-----
> From: techwr-l-bounces+lporrello=illumina -dot- com -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com [mailto:techwr-l-bounces+lporrello=illumina -dot- com -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com] On Behalf Of Steven Jong
> Sent: Thursday, October 27, 2011 9:24 AM
> To: Mark Baker; Gene Kim-Eng
> Cc: TECHWR-L Digest; Steven Jong
> Subject: RE: STC certification: what's in it for tech writers?
>
> Also, Gene Kim-Eng commented:
>
>> [T]he biggest problem I have with the STC certification process as it seems to be now is that for all the effort and expense what candidates get is a mark of approval that is at best good for about 25% of an average tech writer candidate's interview. The ROI seems very small compared to making the same investment in some training and certification in a domain related to a writer's intended work environment.
>
> As for ROI, that's a perfectly valid basis for comparison. The price of a bachelor's degree in the United States is extremely high; let's say $50,000 as a basis for comparison, and let's further say that this gets you the domain knowledge that makes up 75% of your interview impact. So what is the ROI of certification in getting a job? For comparison, let's say a certification costs $1000. (We charge less.) At $1000, the program is priced below the average (we're new); significantly below the cost of most individual courses (check out the prices of STC certificate courses, a successful program); and far below the cost of degrees. So if it's worth 25% of your interview, but you only have to spend $1000 to get a 25% impact as opposed to spending $50,000 to get the other 75%, which has the higher ROI?
>
>

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References:
RE: STC certification: what's in it for tech writers?: From: Steven Jong
RE: STC certification: what's in it for tech writers?: From: Porrello, Leonard

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