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Subject:Re: Certification--Two Notes From:Tim Altom <taltom -at- IQUEST -dot- NET> Date:Sat, 23 Mar 1996 09:50:00 EST
At 09:45 PM 3/22/96 -0800, you wrote:
>First, I have been considering sitting for the Board of Editors in the
>Life Sciences (BELS) certification exam. Does anyone have a comment
>about the value of the certification or what is involved in obtaining
>it? Anyone have a track record with a certified person (or being a
Good for you. Let us know how it turns out. Have you talked to anybody yet
about the value of the BELS cert, before you asked the group? I'd certainly
be curious to hear whatever you've already gathered.
>I think certification in the tech comm field would have to work in
>somewhat the same way. The guy who had written nothing other than a
>bowling manual may have the makings of a good writer (or he may not).
>The guy who submits the slick samples may have done them himself (or he
>may not). But one who is certified has at least been tested and found
>qualified for something by some governing body.
That's all I've ever maintained, and I've got one of the most blatant
pro-cert biases you'll find. All it does is indicate that the holder was,
first, put in contact with high standards and information, and, second, that
somebody somewhere sometime is willing to tell the world that the holder
once upon a time seemed to know that these things existed. Nothing but
experience will fill in the rest, but at least it gives us a baseline of
>I worked for a guy 15 years ago who had an MA in Tech Comm from the
>granddaddy of them all. He was (and is) one of the worst writers I
>have ever seen. He was the Ted Knight of print journalism. He was
>also a terrible supervisor who lost his job because of his lack of
>skills. So what did the degree tell me? It told me he had been
>exposed to the fundamentals. Experience told me he hadn't absorbed
So his M.A. was enough to get him hired, at least. No degree or
certification guarantees performance. For that matter, neither does
experience. You pay your money and take your chances. But it got him in the
door, and for an ambitious person, that could be enough. Think of all the
talented and capable people who haven't been hired into good positions
because they had the wrong degrees, or no degree, and no way in the world to
prove themselves except on the job, which they can't have because they can't
>Certification will probably not come within my lifetime for all the
>reasons stated in the thread. I think certification COULD have value,
>but it would be a stinker to work out.
It's looking that way. But much of what we do is for the next generation,
anyway. This is just another item.