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Subject:Certification From:GINGER JONES <FFKB48A -at- PRODIGY -dot- COM> Date:Tue, 9 Jan 1996 23:21:45 EST
This thread of certification vs. no certification is sort of like
discussing abortion. You either believe in it or you don't. However,
having just completed a certification program in techical writing at
a local community college, I thought I would share my experience.
Although I have a bachelor's degree and teach high school, I went to
school at night to receive the tech writing certification. (The
actual certificate is plain vanilla, I might add.) I have no way of
knowing what it will ultimately mean to me, but I *do* know that I
received some excellent training from instructors who were not just
teachers but were currently employed as tech writers at such places
as Sematech and IBM. They knew what they were talking about.
I learned all about the STC which we were encouraged to join. I
learned what Interleaf and Framemaker were. I created my first "how-
to" manual from scratch with nothing to use but the hardware pieces
themselves. This project alone was worth the price of the course.
I took courses in grammer, usage, and copy editing. I learned about
the Levels of Edit. I never knew anything like that existed. I took
a course in writing technical reports - the hardest course of all -
where I learned (IMHO) that proposal writing was definitely an art.
I took Documentation I and
Documentation II where we created more manuals from scratch and were
encouraged to submit these to the STC student writing contests.
I took courses in editing (thank you, Marilyn Lamping). There is a
special projects laboratory course where you work in the specific
area in which you are seeking employment. There is also a practicum
(on-the-job) where students are allowed to receive much needed
experience. The department head constantly notifies students about
volunteer projects that they can do to gain more experience.
I learned who Bill Horton and John Brockman were. (Imagine my
surprise when I subscribed and saw postings from them.)
Although I continue to teach, I have begun doing some contract work
at home, and who knows, I may get brave enough to go full time
someday. Certification may not be for everyone and if you have 20
years experience, who needs it? But, in my case, it has gotten me
involved in this wonderful career and I'm happy to be associated with