Certification (longish but good stuff!)

Subject: Certification (longish but good stuff!)
From: George Allaman <gallama -at- LOOKOUT -dot- ECTE -dot- USWC -dot- USWEST -dot- COM>
Date: Sat, 6 Jan 1996 16:48:56 -0700

We haven't discussed enough yet what a certification would be - what tests,
what experience, what education level - so naturally this thread is going
lock-to-lock in opinion ranges. Obviously, if the criteria for a certificate
were poorly selected, most of the objections that have been voiced here would
be true. Let's start to suggest what a certificate might require.

I always have assumed that it would require a certain minimum amount of time
as a practicing tech writer. If an applicant can get the certificate without
any experience, it makes the certificate pretty meaningless to me. I see a
parallel with the Professional Engineer's certificate, which requires a test
you can't take until after you have completed a certain number of years
of professional experience in the field. I think 1 1/2 to 3 years would
be about right.

I also think that a written statement of satisfaction with the writer's work
from all managers during the period(s) of experience considered should be
required. This way, if you have a bad experience with an employer, you can
still get a certificate - you just don't use them as a reference, and you
can't use your period of employment with them as applicable experience. But
the prospective employer still has a solid affirmation that you have been
able to work with others, do the job, and stay reasonably sober for a
significant period of time. This gives the recruiter a rough but useable idea
of the quality of your personality as it pertains to your work.

I think requiring a degree is a bad idea. The degree stands on its own. It
doesn't add any useful information to the certificate. Obviously I will put
on my resume that I have a degree, too - it doesn't have to be implicit in
the certificate.

I think a test is a good idea, but only to demonstrate proficiency with a
given (stated on the certificate) platform, application, or whatever. It's
akin to what the Coast Guard used to call a captain's license, now a Master's
license, and akin to a pilot's license. You are licensed to operate only
certain types and sizes of vehicles, and only in the areas where you have
demonstrated proficiency and shown applicable experience.

Maybe the test should require you to edit some poorly written, unformatted
text on a certain platform in a fixed period of time, and then be reviewed by
a board for spelling, grammatical mistakes, clarity, whatever. This might be
a little subjective, but you can go to another board if you smell a rat.

Most important: I think the certificate should be printed in a REALLY cool
font and on real expensive, lineny paper. It should be covered with artsy-
looking signatures and have very official-looking, baroquey, metaphorical
graphics. And be the right size to fit in an eight-dollar frame from Target.
And it must be easily copied on a cheap machine and falsified, of course.

|George Allaman | |
|Tech Writer | <clever, meaningful |
|Denver, Colorado | quip which somehow |
|Office (303) 624-1619 | summarizes my life |
|Home (303) 771-8060 | philosophy> |
|Alternate: georgea -at- csn -dot- net | |

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