Re: Accreditation, registration, certification...

Subject: Re: Accreditation, registration, certification...
From: George Mena <George -dot- Mena -at- ESSTECH -dot- COM>
Date: Tue, 28 Apr 1998 14:44:37 -0700

If you want accreditation that *really* matters, try checking with the
state agency responsible for fostering industrial relations with
real-world employers, especially with the setting of apprenticeship
standards in the workplace. See if you can find a technical manual
publishing house that's actually registered with the State that offers
such a program.

Long before I ever even heard of STC out in the San Francisco area, my
first tech writing employer had registered with the State of
California's Dept. of Industrial Relations as a company that offered
State certification with its branch agency, the Bureau of Apprenticeship
Standards. I became a Certified Technical Publications Writer through a
lot of on-the-job training with my employer in 1982 after having been an
employee and being registered in the program for a year and a half. I
started the OJT the same day I was hired on (at $5.50 an hour!) back in
January of 1981. By the time the summer of 1982 showed up, I had my
certificate, which made me a journeyman by then.

Academic programs are not handled by any state's industrial relations or
apprenticeship standards agencies because colleges and universities are
not real-world service providers, software publishers or manufacturing
firms, but educational institutions. As such, the institutions'
accreditation is handled by the Joint Accreditation Committee of
Colleges and Universities, which has no affiliation *I* am aware of with
any State or Federal agency responsible for vocational training in the

Under California's rules, the enrolled employers offering apprenticeship
programs determine apprenticeship standards individually. The employer
sets the standards and the employee meets the standards, period. When
the employer decides the employee has met the standard, the employer
notifies the state. The state, in turn, issues the certificate. The
certificate is good forever unless otherwise specified. Mine is good

To my knowledge, STC never has sponsored such a program in conjunction
with Federal or State labor authorities anywhere in the United States of
America. Like the Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers
(IEEE), STC is a professional society and is thus not an employer
registered with the US Dept of Labor or any State agency with respect to
apprenticeship standards.

Unlike STC, IEEE publishes formal standards on a great many
technologies, ranging from magnetic media used on floppy disks to
lightbulbs and beyond. The IEEE also has a technical writing working
group. In lieu of available State apprenticeship certification, being a
member of the IEEE working group will carry a lot more weight in the
workplace with the intelligent employer, in my professional opinion.

While the academic programs are now becoming fashionable and acceptable,
the one element that seems to be missing in all of them is the
real-world hands-on experience that you will not find in the classroom.
This includes the phenomenon of learning how problems on an assembly
line are identified and practical solutions found, implemented and
documented. Additionally, conducting incoming inspection of purchased
parts received from an outside vendor is not discussed, nor is the issue
of specifying the quality requirements the parts must meet for their
acceptance; at least, not from what I've seen. These two phenomena, of
course, are only the tip of the proverbial iceberg.

In the computer hardware world, the closest thing that is available is
the Windows Hardware Engineering Conference sponsored yearly by
Microsoft. If you're a computer maker and you want your hardware to be
Windows compatible and have Microsoft's blessing, you as a product
manager submit test reports, end products, user manuals and test
methodologies to Microsoft. Usually, you submit at least four items and
supporting documentation to them and Microsoft conducts their own
testing using your methodologies and your hardware. This also includes
peripherals such as modems and much more.

By now, I'm sure more than a few people have something to say about all
of this, so I'll close here and hope that this helps answer the
questions you had, AlumsHubby. =)

> -----Original Message-----
> From: AlumsHubby [SMTP:AlumsHubby -at- AOL -dot- COM]
> Sent: Tuesday, April 28, 1998 11:12 AM
> To: TECHWR-L -at- LISTSERV -dot- OKSTATE -dot- EDU
> Subject: Accreditation, registration, certification
> for academic TechComm programs?
> Does the STC or any other body oversee and bless technical
> communication
> programs at colleges and universities? What's the STC's relationship
> to
> college TC programs? Why do some schools have STC student chapters
> and others
> not: Is it a function of student and faculty enthusiasm and
> commitment, or is
> there also some set of criteria that the program has to meet?
> I'm setting out to mentor a nice young fella from SCSU and neither he
> nor I
> even knows if they have a program down in Orangeburg yet. And that
> made me
> wonder how the RPIs and CMUs get their big reps -- is it because of
> sheer
> quality or do they meet and/or set some benchmarks for training in the
> profession?
> &^~~~
> Send commands to listserv -at- listserv -dot- okstate -dot- edu (e.g., SIGNOFF
> Check out topic summaries at

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