Certification of Tech Writers

Subject: Certification of Tech Writers
From: Linda Anderson <CatBallou2 -at- AOL -dot- COM>
Date: Wed, 24 Aug 1994 00:57:18 EDT

"At the risk of starting a flame war, I have to say that
we seem to have run out of relevant threads. While I
admit to being mildly amused by some of what has floated
into my mailbox of late, I am quite disappointed by its
seeming lack of relevance to technical communication.

In the interests of starting a lively debate, I propose a
new (and, theoretically at least, relevant) topic:

Do you think STC (or some other "official" body) should
be certifying technical communications professionals?
Relevant subtopics of discussion:

- Is TC a profession, or just a job?
- Given the wide range of "stuff" we do as TCers, how
would/should certification work?
- Should/could there be "grades" or "classifications" of
certification? If so, what should they be? How should/
could we differentiate between skill levels?
- What should we call ourselves (again, given the wide
range of stuff we do and industries we do it in/for)?

I apologize in advance if this thread has already been discussed;
I've subscribed to this list for fewer than six months.

Anne Halsey
senior tech writer, storagetek
anne_halsey -at- stortek -dot- com"

I do believe tech writers should be certified for a few reasons:
- TC is a profession, not just a job. Just 'cuz you can speak the
language doesn't qualify you as a communicator
- It would (presumably) increase the pay scale. In the places I've
been associated with, tech writers were [basically] a non-essential
part of the engineering department. What they did (as perceived by the
engineers) was nothing the engineers couldn't do themselves.
- My former manager was a technician prior to becoming the head of
the publications department. His qualifications? He knew the systems
inside and out. Today he's a manager of that department, and his writers
still have to fix what he screws up. Stuff like that makes us all look

I can't say how certification should work, but classifications seem to be a
good idea. I guess skill levels would be determined by a) experience and b)
testing of some sort.

How about calling ourselves Communications Designers? (The obvious thing,
though, would be to call ourselves Technical Communicators, although not all
of us are writing "technical" stuff.)

I know there are some better ideas out there than mine. It's late and this is
just off the top of my head.


Linda Anderson

Angels can fly because they take themselves lightly.

Previous by Author: Pet Peeves
Next by Author: Re: More business names
Previous by Thread: Re: Online vs. Hard-Copy
Next by Thread: Re: Help Bar from Anne

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

Sponsored Ads