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Subject:Re: Licensing tech. communicators From:"Bruce B. Harper" <BHARPER -at- VTVM1 -dot- CC -dot- VT -dot- EDU> Date:Thu, 24 Jun 1993 08:51:14 EDT
On Wed, 23 Jun 1993 20:32:35 GMT Karin Warren said:
>Any thoughts out there on the usefulness of certification? What kinds of
>tests could be devised to measure our skills?
Because of the variety of jobs I do here at Virginia Tech, I am on
the ARCHIVISTS list (due to my responsibilities in Records Management).
To start a major flame war on that list, one only need mention "certification"
and people quickly split into to warring camps. Archivists seem to fall
into the same category as technical writers, in that one can say "I am an
archivist" and be one, without formal training or any type of official
college degree. There is a great debate about "if you have a degree, what
discipline should it be from--should it be in history or library science
and should it be a BA or an MLA." Part of the fuss is over just who set
up the certification program and made the rules about getting certified
(some of those on the outs feel that some "haves" set things up so they
would automatically be certified for life while the "have nots" would
have to go through the standard testing/recertification process to be
called a certified professional archivist.
I am also a member of DPMA (An Association for Information Professionals,
formerly Data Processing Management Association). DPMA participates with
several other professional organzations to run a certification program
for several areas in computers/data processing. It does take a lot of
hard work and study to pass the exams and being certified does indicate
that a person has reached a certain level of knowledge and skill. But
there is not a big division between those who are certified and those who
aren't, and you aren't considered "nothing" if you aren't certified.
As to technical writing, it might be interesting to be able to list
CTW (Certified Technical Writer) after your name, but what would it indicate?
Because of the wide range of skills and abilities needed, and the areas
that technical writers work in, developing any type of valid measure would
be near impossible. Sure, a test of style and mechanics could be put
together, with some questions about business operations and management
thrown in, but there are too many intangibles that can't be measured on
an op-scan sheet and machine scored.
Certification might be nice, but unless and until it is widely accepted
in industry as THE measure of knowledge, skill, and ability and a
necessity to practice the trade (like being a CPA to really be an accountant),
then all it will be are some extra letters after someone's name and a lapel
pin to wear to STC functions.
Bruce B. Harper
Manager, Administrative Display System
Computer Support, Records Management Department
Data Analyst, Institutional Research
Virginia Tech, Blacksburg, Virginia 24061-0433
BHARPER -at- VTVM1 (BITNET) or BHARPER -at- VTVM1 -dot- CC -dot- VT -dot- EDU (Internet)