Re: Certification: opposing views

Subject: Re: Certification: opposing views
From: Jane Bergen <janeb -at- ANSWERSOFT -dot- COM>
Date: Thu, 21 Mar 1996 12:02:04 +0000

Hello, Gordon,

Thanks for your comments, but I "stick by my guns." For one thing,
someone would have to be a good writer to achieve certification.
Second, a degree from a training program or university and a
certificate from a professional organization are two different
things. One does not necessarily exclude, nor include, the the other.
Just because someone has a degree does not automatically certify the
person. At least not the certification standards I would support.

On the other hand, a little education never hurt anyone. I do not
think it is unreasonable to require some kind of training for
certification. It does not have to be a formal degree program, but
having a certification standard in place would also help technical
writing programs in setting some kind of standards in both course
offering and goals. An internship could certainly be part of the
certification process also.

I have no idea what you consider "good" writing. It may be totally
opposite of my view of good writing. That's kind of the point here.
What is "good writing" anyway? Certification, on the other
hand, would set standards and create a unity and uniformity in the
technical writing profession.

> I sympathize with your concerns about technical writers and the lack
> of standardized criteria available to HR people to weed out
> goofballs. However, I would like to share with you a different
> perspective:

> I work for a small (70 developers) software firm in Montreal,
> Quebec, Canada. Although Quebec is mostly French-speaking, many
> native English speakers are available, educated at McGill or
> Concordia (the two local English-language universities here in
> Montreal), or in Ontario.

(stuff deleted)

> Applicants from technical writing programs (one a diploma program -
> an intensive year after an undergraduate degree, the other a formal
> four year degree) have proven to be uniformly awful. They are
> drilled in the minutia of technical writing (style guides, document
> planning, etc.) but do not write well.

(stuff deleted)

> The most recent writer hired by our company does not even have a
> university degree. But he writes well, and we're glad we hired him
> over a half-dozen credentialed writers.
> Gordon H. Buchan
> buchang -at- pobox -dot- com

Jane Bergen, Technical Writer
janeb -at- answersoft -dot- com or janeb -at- airmail -dot- net
"The difference between the right word and the
almost right word is the difference between lightning
and the lightning bug" (Mark Twain)

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