Re: Certification -- what's in it for writers

Subject: Re: Certification -- what's in it for writers
From: Jerry Franklin <jerryfranklin -at- alumni -dot- northwestern -dot- edu>
To: "techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com\"" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com>
Date: Thu, 3 Nov 2011 11:19:12 -0700

Greetings.

Once again, IMHO, WHAT you certify is not the question. It is irrelevant.
HOW you certify is not the question. It is irrelevant. THAT you certify
-- that's relevant.

Ask any professional in other fields that certify -- engineers, CPAs, MDs,
teachers -- anyone. I think you'll find that, overwhelmingly, the
individuals will say the certification PER SE is a waste of their time and
their money, and that it has no bearing on how good a job they do. Zero.
But to the industry, to their careers, it has great meaning. Are
"board-certified" surgeons necessarily better than non-certified? No. Is
a teacher with a multiple subject certification better than a teacher who
is certified to teach only English or science? No. But notice how every
physician who's board certified displays that big plaque on their wall, or
features it prominently in any advertising they do. Notice how school
districts will not hire you to teach a subject in which you are not
certified (which means that someone with a BS in biology who's certified
can teach science; someone with a PhD in physics from CalTech who's not
certified cannot teach science).

It's marketing, folks -- marketing. That's the value. Broken record,
here, but if you're wondering what the STC can certify that would have
meaning, you are completely missing the point. The industries, the
professions, the hiring managers -- THEY want certification, and, no, they
do not correlate job performance with certification, either. They don't
care, and they wouldn't know how to measure it or recognize it if they
did. It is a hiring decision on its face, in some cases a legal or career
CYA or bureaucratic requirement, and absolutely nothing else. Period.

And if certification was/is so meaningless , why do so many other
professions do it? And why would you think technical communications is the
only one of these professions whose job activities or job performance you
can't certify? If you're a contractor working through an agency, ask your
agency. I'd be very surprised if they didn't think it was a good thing,
because it's another arrow in their quiver when they talk to their clients
about hiring you.

Not intending to look for a job for the next, oh, ever? Confident you can
convince your current employer how passionate and committed you are to your
profession based solely on your experience? Fine -- then there's probably
no need for you to go through the trouble of getting certified.

The rest of us need every advantage -- even if it's just a paper one -- we
can get.

Regards,

Jerry

On Thu, Nov 3, 2011 at 10:20 AM, Scott Turner <quills -at- airmail -dot- net> wrote:

> The real question is what do you certify? That you can spell?
>
> In my career I've documented hardware installation, maintenance, hardware
> and software user manuals, software installation, business processes,
> regulatory guidelines.
>
> I've written API documentation, programming guides, release letters. I've
> written under myriad different style and quality standards, so where is the
> commonality that isn't present for any competent writer?
>
> A good tech writer is a competent writer, and has the ability to learn
> quickly and synthesize that information into a documentation for a specific
> audience.
>
> You don't have to be an expert in the field you are documenting.
>
> And since the STC hasn't the money or personnel how do you create a
> certification process that has meaning and validity?
>
>
>
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Re: Certification -- what's in it for writers: From: Scott Turner

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