Technical Writing Certifications

Subject: Technical Writing Certifications
From: "William Sherman" <bsherman77 -at- embarqmail -dot- com>
To: <vincentpr -at- trfnova -dot- com>, <kathleen -dot- eamd -at- gmail -dot- com>, <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com>
Date: Wed, 19 Oct 2016 20:50:02 -0400

This idea of certification comes up every so often, and has some merit. After all, anyone can say they are a technical writer, but how does the hiring company really know? The certificate sounds like the answer.

But for a certificate to be good, it isn't enough to attend a class, or even a dozen, you need to test out to prove yourself.

Here is the rub.

What do you test?

Do you test the ability to use MS Word, FrameMaker, XML, DITA, or others? Which ones? All? Some?

And now does that make you a _technical_ writer? Or just a writer? Shouldn't the "technical" adjective mean you actually have a technical expertise?

So now what do you test?

Your knowledge of C++?

Your knowledge of Fortran?

Your knowledge of .Net?

API?

HTML?

How a PC is assembled?

How an F22 is assembled?

How to fly an AH-64D?

How to meet medical requirements?

How to use a cat cracker?

How to set up media rooms for a company and maintain the equipment?

How to rebuild an engine? What engine, a Model T engine, a small block Chevy, an LS-6 engine, a J79 engine, F100-PW-220 engine, a Cat C-18 engine, or what?


This has always bothered me about the Technical Writer degrees. Does it teach you to write or to understand a complex technical subject enough that you can break it down for the Average Joe to understand or the well-trained individual who needs your work as reference during highly technical work? And then, which did it train you on? Will it be the one you need?



----- Original Message ----- From: "Vincent" <vincentpr -at- trfnova -dot- com>
To: <kathleen -dot- eamd -at- gmail -dot- com>
Cc: <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com>
Sent: Wednesday, October 19, 2016 1:08 PM
Subject: Re: Re: Re: Re: It doesn't look good for Tina the Tech Writer ... OK, this makes for a good segue





2) Absolutely! Please note that earlier in this topic thread I stated
that for PMP 'experience trumps the certification 100% of the time'. I
believe that CPTW certification will make a difference in customer
attitude once it has been established, accepted and promoted. But of
course, between all-other-aspects-being equal candidates, if both were
to be CPTW certified, and one has ample experience while the other does
not, the experienced candidate would prevail. I am not suggesting that
certification displaces experience -- it doesn't for ANY type of
certification. I am suggesting that in most IT (as well as other
industry) shops, the TW is incorrectly regarded as being a lesser
specialist, and this perception needs to be remediated.



On 10/18/16, Kathleen MacDowell<kathleen -dot- eamd -at- gmail -dot- com> wrote:

Sir Vincent,
1) There are schools/colleges that offer tech writing tracks. How do
you picture a certificate covering material that those students
wouldn't offer?
2) I can't judge whether a certificate would make a difference in
customer attitude. Even so, there are some skills that only experience
can teach, and some that everyone can't learn.
3) I do wonder if the most skilled will end up designing interfaces,
though, and that will undoubtedly provide more respect.
Kathleen
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