TechWhirl (TECHWR-L) is a resource for technical writing and technical communications professionals of all experience levels and in all industries to share their experiences and acquire information.
For two decades, technical communicators have turned to TechWhirl to ask and answer questions about the always-changing world of technical communications, such as tools, skills, career paths, methodologies, and emerging industries. The TechWhirl Archives and magazine, created for, by and about technical writers, offer a wealth of knowledge to everyone with an interest in any aspect of technical communications.
Subject:R.I.P. for certification From:Thom Remington <remingtf -at- ENGG-MAIL -dot- LVS -dot- DUPONT -dot- COM> Date:Fri, 13 Jun 1997 08:43:12 -0400
Ah, the certification thread is back!
IMHO, it's time to bury it. Our profession is so varied in terms of what we
do and what's required for us to do it that a truly accurate certification
is probably impossible.
My MS degree is in clinical psychology. For that degree, I became proficient
in a variety of psychodiagnostic tests, including the infamous Wechsler and
Stanfor-Binet IQ tests. Possibly the most important lesson I learned is that
it's all subjective. You can't produce much in the way of objectively
verifiable information, and a full IQ test can't tell you much more than a
good interviewer can after an hour-long session.
A year or two ago, I did a project that really opened my eyes about
certification. It had to do with audits of process control. I spent a day
with a guy who does audits. He took the questionnaire we'd designed and
gently ripped most of it to shreds. He'd look at a question and ask, "How do
you know if you have enough...?"
Would certification require a TW certificate from an accredited school?
Whoa! What about those of us who have lots of experience but no such
certificate or degree?
Would certification require us to be able to write clearly? By what
criteria? Who's going to judge it?
IMHO, possibly the most important abilities for a TW are:
o the ability to think clearly
o the ability to think critically
o the ability to ask questions
o the willingness to ask what others may view as "dumb" questions
o the ability to reformulate information
Because everything on this list can be done in any of a variety of ways -
most of them equally worthwhile, testing for them would be really difficult.
As Arlen Walker said, certification is a lot like communism: It may look
good on paper, but in practice it doesn't work.
OTOH, it sure would be nice to hang a TW certificate on the wall, right next
to the sign that says, "Six months ago, I coodnt spel teknickle righter, and
now I are one!" ;->
Thom Remington mailto:thomas -dot- f -dot- remington -at- usa -dot- dupont -dot- com
DuPont External Affairs
Information Design & Development http://www.dupont.com
Speaking for myself, not for DuPont.