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Subject:Re: Certification From:Bonni Graham <bonnig -at- IX -dot- NETCOM -dot- COM> Date:Sat, 23 Dec 1995 11:47:27 -0800
Tim Alton makes a whole bunch of valid points that I'm going to address
kind of collectively, so I won't expand the digests by including them,
except for a couple of brief ones). I will keep a copy of his post if
anyone wants to see specific issues.
The points he's making are exactly why I would seek a certification if
one existed -- but they don't make me like it any better. If I'm
understanding Tim right, he's saying that it's still a magic feather,
its just a magic feather for employers, rather than us. If THEY see us
holding the feather, they'll take us more seriously, pay us more, etc.
I have two responses to that:
a) And mechanics (who, at least in the US pretty much need a ASE
General Master cert to get any job above lot rat or oil changer) are so
respected by their employers and the populace at large. (sarcasm
intended, but gently)
Ditto teachers (if I had heard "those who can't do, teach" ONE more
time at a parent-teacher conference, I would have become dangerously
b) I don't know any programmers who have certification, and they don't
have this problem. I know a whole bunch of programmers who have
nothing more than a self-proclaimed and time-proven understanding of
their chosen programming language, and they don't have this problem.
I don't think the issue is proving our ability to perform our skills
(which is all certification can measure). I think the issue is
convincing clients and employers that these skills are necessary and
desirable, and that I think can be done without a certificate. All a
certificate can do is prove that you are the person who shuld perform
these duties. But if the client/employer doesn't think the duties are
necessary or desirable, you can be certificated until every wall of
your office or house is covered and you aren't going to get any more
work or business.
"The reaction of the marketplace to our platitudes of "the purpose and
validity of the 'profession'" has been a uniform "Yeah? Well what
evidence can I see of either purpose or validity?" And I've never had
an answer that could stand up to full examination."
I've usually been able to say that I can decrease support calls related
basic understanding of the software and increase their customers
perception of a commitment to quality. Both of which are true (no, I
can't give you stats -- unfortunately the two clients that I have
spoken directly to about this do not keep such statistics. However,
their support people have reported a noticeable difference in the kinds
of calls taken. I keep trying to get them to keep stats.).
"I would suggest, in fact, that rather than polling tech writers about
certification, we poll employers and clients to see if a certificate
would mean anything to THEM."
I can support this ONE HUNDRED percent. I can not like certification
all I want, but if my *marketplace* wants me to have it, I'll be first
in line (well, OK, second -- probably Tim will beat me there <g>).
"We're not a profession, Bonni. Professions have standards and
So let's implement standards and recognition -- do these things have to
be tied to certification? I'm genuinely asking this.
I definitely don't want to give the impression that I don't think
standards are important. I don't want to give the impresion that I
don't take my job and its related skills seriously. I just don't know
that I agree that certification is way to create/enforce
Wo-hoo! We've got a discussion going!
bonnig -at- ix -dot- netcom -dot- com