RE: Consensus for a Tech Writing Certificate

Subject: RE: Consensus for a Tech Writing Certificate
From: "Johan Hiemstra" <webmaster -at- techexams -dot- net>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com>
Date: Tue, 14 Jun 2005 17:56:34 +0200

>You've put your finger on it right there. Dick Margulis once wrote:

>"... Tech writing isn't an industry. Tech writers work _in_ industries
>-- a wide variety of them. Several people on this list have experience
>in the medical device industry, scientific equipment industry, computer
>hardware industry, machinery industry..."

>Yes, we have common skills, but they're often only a subset of the
>overall skills required for a particular TW job. In that case, TW
>certification would serve neither the employer nor the well-qualified
>candidate, but rather the less-qualified candidate who needs to divert
>attention from a lack of industry-specific experience.

Ok, thanks for your patience and helping me get out of the dark. I see the
point and I see where it leads and how that can vote against a tech writer
cert. Although I unfortunately missed them, I know you've had several
discussions about this on this list in the past and if the majority has
something against it I'd be happy to drop it. For what it's worth though, I
couldn't disagree any more with your conclusion in your quote above except
for the last five words. It seems to me you, and perhaps many others here
who are against a technical writer certification for the reasoning above,
are too demanding. And I guess it has a lot to do with a difference of
opinion in what the purpose of such a certification should be. From my
experience with IT certification, I noticed certs shift from being a badge
you got after you learned the skills on the job, to a guideline for
students, kinda like a diploma perhaps. Most of the people who become a MCSE
or Cisco Certified Network Associate nowadays, do so without ever having
touched a Windows server or Cisco router that is actually in use. They
practice with a home lab or simulator, but do not necessarily have actual
work experience. There are very few certifications that can divert attention
from the lack of experience.

>From what I've heard you all discussed this over and over, and perhaps I'm
not able to see the consequences as clear as you do, but to me it's very
simple. If it is possible to create a good book with a 1000 pages covering
the basics of technical writing, based on a job task analysis, which I
assume most of you agree is possible, you 'can' create a certification that
can benefit employers, and both well and less-qualified candidates. The
first can expect a basic level of skills and knowledge, perhaps even some
uniformity. Well-qualified candidates with experience don't need the cert,
those without the experience can easily attain it (since they're so
qualified). The less-qualified can become better qualified, but certainly
won't be able to fool an employer or 'steal' someone else's job with just a
certificate. Sounds like a win-win-win deal to me. Of course it won't
encompass every possible aspect, and it won't be the tech writer's bible.
But whether you consider tech writing an industry or job role or a hobby is
irrelevant. It's the similarities and common skills the certification can
focus on. And if several industries are more common for a tech writer to
work in than others, it won't hurt to cover the basics of tech writing in
that particular industry.

I completely missed the point with the Brainbench question, they offer
several certs that according to them related to the tech writer job role.


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RE: Consensus for a Tech Writing Certificate: From: Dan Goldstein

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