Re: Certification

Subject: Re: Certification
From: Win Day <winday -at- IDIRECT -dot- COM>
Date: Fri, 9 Aug 1996 10:28:39 -0400

"Frank -dot- Harper -at- es -dot- atl -dot- sita -dot- int" <Frank -dot- Harper -at- es -dot- atl -dot- sita -dot- int> wrote:
>>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

and "Wing, Michael J" <mjwing -at- INGR -dot- COM> responded:
>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.

Most posted ads for engineers ask for PE designation or eligibility. IEEE
may not certify engineers, but the local (state or provincial) professional
engineers' organization does. In Ontario, the Professional Engineers of
Ontario (PEO) certifies engineers; in Alberta, the Association of
Professional Engineers, Geologists, and Geophysicists (APEGGA) handles

>>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.

Certification does not imply experience in a particular area or with a
particular process or project type. It does imply that the certified
engineer meets certain MINIMUM standards in the areas carefully outlined in
the certification process. Employers know what a certified engineer is
certified for, because the certification requirements are publicly available.

Certification does not imply quality. I never bothered to become certified,
and I was certainly a good engineer. I couldn't legally sign off drawings
or specifications, which mostly meant I couldn't get sued if something went
wrong! Certification and licensing DOES impart legal responsibility. Do we
want to be held legally and criminally responsible if someone, following our
procedures, gets injured or killed? Do we want to have to buy massive
amounts of malpractice insurance?

>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!

See above. Certification doesn't imply experience or quality. I know
plenty of certified engineers who I think are brain-dead, but they managed
to pass the licensing exam.

>>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.

Depending on location, engineering certification has two levels. The first
is a general, cross-discipline, competency test. The second level of test
is more specific, depending on the engineer's specialty.

Not all locations do this. One of the reasons I never bothered to certify
was because as a chemical engineer designing refinery processes, I didn't
really understand the need for me to also be able to design bridges or
buildings! That's what structural engineers do, but that's what was on one
of the licensing tests.

I'm torn on the idea of certification. I don't necessarily want the STC to
follow blindly the models I've seen of engineering certification. But I
agree that some kind of recognizable designation might help us market ourselves.

I don't know anything about accounting certification, but I do know there
are many type of certified accountants. Does anyone have a better idea of
how their process works?

Win Day
Technical Writer/Editor
Email: winday -at- idirect -dot- com

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