Re: STC certification program - man has this been a long thread!

Subject: Re: STC certification program - man has this been a long thread!
From: "William Sherman" <bsherman77 -at- embarqmail -dot- com>
To: "TECHWR-L Digest" <TECHWR-L -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com>
Date: Mon, 31 Oct 2011 18:40:01 -0400
"The Certified Professional in Technical Communication (CPTC) credential provides assurance to employers and the public that the certified practitioner possesses the knowledge, skill, and ability expected of a competent technical communicator to meet the demands of technical communication projects, today and tomorrow."

I have to disagree. Certification seems to be an answer no one is asking, except some companies who have failed in their interviewing process because they have forgotten how to do things.

I have know a lot of people who could pass a test with ease, and I wouldn't trust them to find their way to the store and back. One of my first contracting jobs involved about 50 writers, and some had very advanced degrees. In the end, many of these very advanced degrees had simply played a con on the company, occupied a desk for a month or two, collected a healthy paycheck, and left before they got caught.

I suspect the same people could easily get certified and now reap an even larger paycheck.

From the discussion on here so far, I believe the certification will require
proficiency in many areas, and unless you are actively working in those, you probably won't pass.

Like many have said, why do I need DITA if I haven't used it in the last 20 years, I am not currently using it, and the company I work for has no desire to use it? Yet if I don't know it, I am somehow a lesser technical writer than the one certified. Maybe. Let's put this in the perspective that I have say 20 years experience and have written 500 books and the certified guy has 2 years of experience and has never advanced further than a Tech Writer I.

Or let's say I am a real whiz bang with FrameMaker because our company uses it exclusively for the last 15 years and know very little about Word, because we just never use it. I guess I'm not a writer.

Throw XML and SGML in there.

Oops, maybe our company with 5 writers never bothered to go beyond Frame 5.5.6 as it fulfilled our needs and the $1000 per license wasn't justified. So I guess I lose out with the SGML now.

Or reverse that for the poor soul who works for a corporate giant who deems MS Word is the corporate standard and everything is in Word so the engineers and the managers and everyone has access to these documents, whether they want it, need it, use it, or know anything at all about it. I was at a place a few years ago that every meeting the boss would lament how the documents were an issue and he wished he knew how to fix them. I'd say "FrameMaker" and he'd reply, "We can't use that only Word."

Those poor souls are doomed to never being certified, I guess, as they will never work with most of the methods deemed crucial.

Then there are the online documents and the help documents. Maybe we never use them, so RoboHelp is a foreign word to us. Or maybe we use it as our only tool. Does that help or hinder us?

Let's get into technologies. BTW, technologies are aircraft, ships, spacecraft, pharmaceuticals, medical, science, warfare, and the like, not Word, FrameMaker, PageMaker, and so on. Those are tools. Any decent carpenter who can use a claw hammer can figure how to use any other hammer in a day. Learning to frame a house versus learning to do a roof to learning to do cabinetry is technology and takes longer. Hammers are tools. The product you build is Technology.

So far, nothing seems to be about certifying you in technology and that is what the companies really want - someone who can hit the ground running in their technology. Any high school kid can do Word. Very few can do the technology.

The real problem is the companies themselves. I have seen this the last 10 years or more. They lost the ability to really interview, probably because they bought into the Jack Welch philosophy of MBAs. A manager can manage anything, it doesn't matter the product. So they have managers over writers who have never written anything more than an email or daily crap on his wall in Facebook. They have managers who have never worked on aircraft, ships, spacecraft, electronics, pharmaceuticals, etc. and yet they are going to question someone about their knowledge of it?

You see why poor people get hired - those asking the questions have no knowledge to judge them by.

This is why so many companies have pushed college degree requirements on everything, even though the degree may have nothing to do with the job.

That is turning out really well (where's that sarcasm font?).

So STC is going to save them. Sure. From the way things go on here, most can't agree what a real writer is, so throw in all the personalities from STC, and you will have an even more vague idea. Or an extremely narrow one, which a lot of us won't fit, even though we have made a decent living for the last 20, 30, or more years.

Besides, there have been certifications out there for years - Microsoft, FrameMaker, Adobe, and others. I have yet to have anyone ask me if I have any of those.

If STC really wants to save these companies from themselves, they should write an interview guide. Hit the various technologies, the various tools, and then the tasks. Divide so that the manager can pick what parts to use. Hopefully the Jack Welch Special can figure that out.


Create and publish documentation through multiple channels with Doc-To-Help.
Choose your authoring formats and get any output you may need. Try
Doc-To-Help, now with MS SharePoint integration, free for 30-days.

You are currently subscribed to TECHWR-L as archive -at- web -dot- techwr-l -dot- com -dot-
To unsubscribe send a blank email to
techwr-l-leave -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com
or visit

To subscribe, send a blank email to techwr-l-join -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com

Send administrative questions to admin -at- techwr-l -dot- com -dot- Visit for more resources and info.

Looking for articles on Technical Communications? Head over to our online magazine at

Re: STC certification program: skeptical curmudgeonlyness, part II: From: Steven Jong
Re: STC certification program: skeptical curmudgeonlyness, part II: From: Bill Swallow
Re: STC certification program: skeptical curmudgeonlyness, part II: From: Steven Jong

Previous by Author: Anyone can write - just ask the pros
Next by Author: Re: STC certification: what's in it for tech writers?
Previous by Thread: Re: STC certification program: skeptical curmudgeonlyness, part II
Next by Thread: turning off automatic numbering in Word 2010

What this post helpful? Share it with friends and colleagues:

Sponsored Ads