TechWhirl (TECHWR-L) is a resource for technical writing and technical communications professionals of all experience levels and in all industries to share their experiences and acquire information.
For two decades, technical communicators have turned to TechWhirl to ask and answer questions about the always-changing world of technical communications, such as tools, skills, career paths, methodologies, and emerging industries. The TechWhirl Archives and magazine, created for, by and about technical writers, offer a wealth of knowledge to everyone with an interest in any aspect of technical communications.
I, like some of the other posters to this list who have finally joined the
certification thread, have been sitting back watching other posters stick
their neck out, and keeping quiet myself.
But Ginger's positive experience in a certification program has shoved me
the last inch off the fence. It's really good to hear from someone who has
taken courses designed to develop quality technical writers and to hear
that Ginger had such a positive experience. My question to Ginger is,
would you have taken these courses even if there were no certification
I applaud good, practical training and the top notch efforts of those who
are well grounded in technical editing to pass on what they know to others
in the field. Posting to this list is just one of the things these
experienced technical editors do that helps the rest of us tremendously.
But. I have a caveat. Certification, per se, is usually instituted not to
label someone qualified, but to exclude the "rest of them." Medical
certification in the 19th century was driven, in large part, by the
determination of the medical profession to take over midwifery and outlaw a
practice based upon what was essentially apprenticeship rather than course
work. I am also old enough to remember my elders talking about looking for
work in the depression and being asked if they had a high school
diploma--for janitorial work. In other words, the certification was simply
a device to avoid having to evaluate anyone's real qualifications.
Many of the posts to this certification thread have indicated people come
to the technical writing arena from many, many different backgrounds. I
would regard this as a positive thing. But I have difficulty envisioning
any sort of certification process that would encourage this diversification
rather than stomp it into the ground.
Back to my question to Ginger. I have no problem with the courses designed
to improve the practice of technical writing. What I have problems with is
the compulsion to measure technical writing by a check list when much of
expertise is not capturable by sound bites.