Re: Certification

Subject: Re: Certification
From: "Susan W. Gallagher" <sgallagher -at- EXPERSOFT -dot- COM>
Date: Mon, 15 Jan 1996 11:54:42 -0800

>> All I have to do is read the TECHWR-L messages for a while to make me
>> feel REALLY inadequate while I stare at my little certificate.

And then Stephen Victor wrote:
>I for one was appalled to read this. I've observed a resistance to--even
>a belittling of--higher education in many technical writers, both on
>this list and elsewhere, and it simply staggers me. A former colleague
>once complained to me that she couldn't even get an interview at a
>company she wanted to work for because she didn't have a degree. She
>actually said this with an aggrieved tone, as if it were such dreadful
>bigotry for the company to expect its professional staff to hold college

>I have yet to hear a doctor or lawyer or CPA or teacher whine because he
>or she is required to have a college degree (or two). They're
>professionals, and so are we in my opinion, so why should we expect any
>less of ourselves? Do we want to be in a profession that requires
>competence of its members, or do we want to be a collection of glorified
>secretaries and tech-heads who just happened to fall into a writing job?
>(I didn't make up these terms; we've all heard them applied to technical
>writers.) If we want to be in a profession known by the quality of its
>members, are we willing to expend the effort required to demonstrate our

But Stephen,

I believe the point that Ginger was driving at is that, even with
her certificate, there's a lot of *experience* that she's lacking.

I was pleased to hear about Ginger's positive experience with the
certificate program. Such things were not around in the early 80s
when I began working as a technical writer. Had they been, I may
have entered such a program.

I fail to see the correlation between a degree and professional
competence, Steven. You compare tech writers to doctors, lawyers,
and CPAs. OK. But you fail to recognize that there was a time when
there was no degree program for doctors or lawyers or CPAs. Each
profession must start somewhere, and the early members of the
profession do not have the benefit of experience on which to draw.

Technical writing has come a long way in the last ten years or
so. There are *now* degree programs in tech writing, and newcomers
to the field are fortunate in that this knowldge has been compiled
and organized and made available to them.

However, there are many technical writers still working in the
field today who began long before any sort of degree program
for technical writing existed. Some of us glorified secretaries
and tech-heads created and refined the techniques that are
taught in certificate and degree programs today. We do consider
ourselves both qualified and professional, despite the lack
of a piece of paper to prove it.

Sue Gallagher
Expersoft Corporation
San Diego, CA
sgallagher -at- expersoft -dot- com

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