Re: Certification

Subject: Re: Certification
From: Robert Plamondon <robert -at- PLAMONDON -dot- COM>
Date: Mon, 8 Jan 1996 09:53:22 -0800

>Thanks for your well-expressed reply, Robert, but I'm not convinced yet. It's
>no good telling me that sometimes credentials mean nothing. Of course it's
>true, but surely you aren't positing that it's always true? I would go so far
>as to say that it is only true a minority of the time.

I'm saying that the correlation between qualifications and quality work
is weak. And what qualities would a certificate indicate that a
resume does not? My diploma contains far less information than even
a one-sentence description of my coursework, for example.

Admittedly, many people have a quasi-religious respect for certificates.
If I had taken the same coursework and gotten the same grades, but
not received a diploma, I would be diminished in many people's eyes.
Many people believe that the fact that a film received an Academy Award
invalidates their own opinion that they would have been better off
throwing their ticket money in the sewer.

There is no chance that anyone will come up with meaningful tech writing
certification. People can't even agree on how to measure writing
ability. Add the "technical" part in, and it becomes completely hopeless.
(Should certification include a demonstrated ability to write intelligently
to technicians about semiconductor fab processes? To undertakers about
embalming? To circus performers about worker's comp insurance?)

No -- the main advantage of certification is that people will assume that
it means something, not that it really does. If I started selling
Tech Writing Certificates for $100, with the only qualification being
that you don't get your certificate until the check clears, I would
no doubt have defenders who point out that the investment of a C-note
indicates seriousness and commitment to the profession (just as they
treat STC membership, even though many members don't read the journal
and don't attend meetings).

-- Robert

Robert Plamondon * President/Managing Editor, High-Tech Technical Writing, Inc
36475 Norton Creek Road * Blodgett * Oregon * 97326
robert -at- plamondon -dot- com * (541) 453-5841 * Fax: (541) 453-4139

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