Re: Certification

Subject: Re: Certification
From: "Kahn, Stacey" <skahn -at- WB -dot- COM>
Date: Tue, 26 Dec 1995 13:04:39 U

Tim Alton and John Bell use the example of ASE certification for mechanics --it
indicates a certain level of skill, and shops that have certified mechanics
advertise the fact-- as an argument for certifying tech writers.

A recent survey published in Washington [DC] Consumer Checkbook found
absolutely no correlation between ASE certification and customer satisfaction
with a repair shop/mechanic. Not even in the narrower arena of "doing work
properly" (i.e., excluding issues such as price, finishing as scheduled, and so
forth) was there any correlation.

Seems to me that fields that people can enter based on skill and hard work
don't lend themselves to certification in the same way as do fields that
absolutely *require* a core education. And whatever we think of college-level
TW curricula, I'd far rather employ a self-taught TW than a self-taught surgeon
or architect.

Besides, the skills we need to do our jobs well are either changing too quickly
for a certification board to keep up with (document design, creation of
multimedia help) or nearly impossible to test for (flexibility, interpersonal
skills, crisis management, rapport with SME types).

Given that our entire field is often regarded as incompetent and unnecessary, I
see no reason to feed these assumptions with irrelevant and basically
self-serving certification programs.


--Stacey Kahn
SKahn -at- wb -dot- com Washington, DC
speaking for myself and not for my employers

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