My thoughts on certification

Subject: My thoughts on certification
From: Karen Mayer <Karen_Mayer -dot- TOUCH_TECHNOLOGY -at- NOTES -dot- COMPUSERVE -dot- COM>
Date: Thu, 4 Jan 1996 10:41:32 EST

I've been following the certification threads, happily keeping my
opinions to myself. But what good are they if I don't share? :-)

My observation is that most of the professions that require certification
are those in which an unqualified person practicing in that profession
could potentially cause harm to others: doctors, lawyers, teachers, etc.
Even mechanics could endanger lives if they didn't really know what they
were doing, perhaps to a lesser extent than doctors, but still.

Sure, one could argue that many of us technical writers have that
potential. Should something we write be wrong and cause someone to fry
themselves on a piece of equipment, they would surely have a case for us
causing harm. But for the majority of us, I don't think that is the case.
Many of us document software whose use does not have any harmful
consequences. Many writers document hazardous materials, and perhaps they
*should* be certified. But by whom? Why should all writers be subject to
the same kind of certification if their area of technical expertise poses
no threat to life and limb? Personally, I do computers. I don't do
aerospace or chemicals or medical equipment. What I document does not
have the potential to hurt anyone, and I would object to certification.

The quality of my work is self-evident and does not require the approval
of some committee for validation. Those who are interested in pursuing a
career as a technical writer would have to jump through unnecessary
hoops. Why not require the same certification for the writer as that
required for the engineer who designs/builds the thing we document?

-- karen

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