Re: Certification

Subject: Re: Certification
From: "Wing, Michael J" <mjwing -at- INGR -dot- COM>
Date: Fri, 9 Aug 1996 08:44:30 -0500

>Anyway, any organization can certify members for a specific skill using
>own criteria. Their certification will be viewed based on its certified
>members performance. Anyone who wants to be certified must belong to
>organization and meet the certification criteria. (I cite the IEEE,
>etc.) There are still engineers who work at their profession who are
>certified, but if you want a guarantee of quality, you should use one
>who is

I don't see many ads for Engineers asking that they be IEEE certified or
that hiring preference will be given to those candidates who have
certification through a professional organization. Professional
organizations are fine forums for following trends, exchanging
techniques, making contacts, publishing papers, and so forth, but, I
find it intrusive when they hint at setting standards for employment or
continuation of employment. If you have experience, your track record
and work attests to your qualifications; if you're straight from
college, it's your grades and recommendations.

>After twelve years in this field (seven in STC) I believe that we need
>type of certification, simply to enhance our employablity.

Why does a Writer need a third party to enhance their employability? If
you have the skills, education, background, salary requirements,
portfolio (or whatever you hand the interviewers) that are a match for
the company's needs I would say that you are quite employable.

Employer: Have you documented C++ code?
Writer: No, but I am certified
Employer: Was documenting C++ code part of the certification?
Writer: No
Employer: Next!

>I do not know of any other organization for technical writers that
>provides any certification.
>STC has been wrestling with this for a number of years and has still
>defined the criteria for their certification - probably because of the
>range of technical writing. When it does, you better believe I will be
>one of
>the first to sign up for the process.

Broad range is correct. Because of this range, it may be impossible to
set a fair certification criteria. A Technical Writer must be able to
assimilate the information to effectively write it. However, a
Technical Writer may write about insurance company policies, Marketing
proposals, medical equipment, mechanical hardware, software, military
test procedures, . . . How do you set certification criteria that
measures a writer's technical comprehension when the disciplines for
which we write are so wide? If you omit technical comprehension, then
you are certifying glorified secretaries.

Technical Writers write for varying audiences. Audiences can be
beginners, experts, Sales people, Engineers, and so forth. Which
audience level is used for certification? All levels? Your pick?

>If we, as technical writers, expect to be viewed as a profession, we
>need some
>governing body to insure that we live up to the standards of the
>(what ever they are). Otherwise, we will continue to be viewed as

How will a certificate change this view? You have a direct bearing on
how your employer views you. You may have been viewed as a typist when
hired. How you are viewed after some experience at the company can
change if you take the initiative. A certificate is often a piece of
paper, real production and innovation in your work is living proof of
your qualifications.

Mike Wing

>_/ Michael Wing
>_/ Principal Technical Writer
>_/ Jupiter Customization and Educational Services
>_/ Intergraph Corporation
>_/ Huntsville, Alabama
>_/ (205) 730-7250
>_/ mjwing -at- ingr -dot- com

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