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Certification: History and Pros/Cons


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Nad Rosenberg

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Certification: History and Pros/Cons

  1. 1. Certification:History and Pros/ConsPresented by:Nad Rosenberg
  2. 2. ©TechWRITE, Inc. 2008 Slide 2About NadSenior Member of STC (member since early1980s).Past President of Philadelphia Metro chapter.President and founder (in 1985) of TechWRITE,Inc., a technical communications companylocated in Woodbury, New Jersey.www.techw.comtwnad@techw.com856-848-6593
  3. 3. ©TechWRITE, Inc. 2008 Slide 3STC Certification Efforts
  4. 4. ©TechWRITE, Inc. 2008 Slide 4STC Certification Efforts1981 – First formal study.1982 - Wide support for certification. Plan developed. ARequest for Quotation (RFQ) produced one bid fromEducational Testing Service but not pursued for financialreasons.1996 - The Board approved an RFP for feasibility study.Results were almost evenly divided.1997 – The effort was revived. The problems involved inconstructing a survey that would measure the TC skill setproved daunting, and the Society’s Board canceled theproject in 1999.
  5. 5. ©TechWRITE, Inc. 2008 Slide 5STC Certification Efforts2006 – Board empowers the Certification Task Force tostudy the issue and make a recommendation.The purpose is to collect information for the Board to makea decision (although the CTF may make its ownrecommendation).2008 - Board empowers the Body of Knowledge Task Forceto begin work on this fundamental task.
  6. 6. ©TechWRITE, Inc. 2008 Slide 6Certification: Pros and Cons
  7. 7. ©TechWRITE, Inc. 2008 Slide 7Certification: ConsTechnical communicators’ job tasks are toobroad.Technical communicators, information architects, documentationspecialists, instructional designers, content developers, etc.How do you handle the issue of levels ofcertifications?Should everyone have to take the same test? Should people with 20years of experience have to take a test?How do you define the Body of Knowledge?This can take years.
  8. 8. ©TechWRITE, Inc. 2008 Slide 8Certification: ConsThe certification initiative is too large and tooexpensive for STC to implement.Certification is only a piece of paper that saysyou passed a test.“Anyone can do that.”Employers may not recognize the value.
  9. 9. ©TechWRITE, Inc. 2008 Slide 9Certification: ProsCertification is the overwhelming trend withother professionsAmerican Society for Training and Development (ASTD)Project Management Institute (PMI)Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM)Software companiesUniversitiesProfessional technical communications organizations inGermany, Switzerland and SwedenCommercial ventures throughout the world (in India alone,approximately 20 private companies offer certification programs).QUESTION: Do we, as members of the STC want to leave it up tocommercial ventures and other organizations to define the criteriafor our profession?
  10. 10. ©TechWRITE, Inc. 2008 Slide 10Certification: ProsCertification will validate our professionalism“People are performing technical communication tasks for goodmoney without having the necessary training or education or skillsto do that work. This weakens the work that qualified technicalcommunicators perform and brings into question the legitimacy ofthe profession.” Ken RaineyThe “Plumbers” Argument: Where there is no licensingmechanism, there is doubt about the quality of the work.Certification will strengthen the profession by assuring that allcertified professionals meet the same minimum standards.
  11. 11. ©TechWRITE, Inc. 2008 Slide 11Certification: ProsCertification will benefit our employers.Employers, in this global economy, want assurance that thepeople or the companies they hire can do the job.If employers prefer certified employees, it is in our economicinterest to implement certification.Certification can potentially provide afinancial advantage.PMI salary survey – certified project managers earnedapproximately 13 to 17 percent more.Finding this out for certain for technical communicators poses achicken-and-egg scenario.
  12. 12. ©TechWRITE, Inc. 2008 Slide 12Certification: Other Key Questions1. Will STC experience significant membershiploss depending on the resolution of thisissue?2. Will there be an ROI for STC if a certificationprogram is implemented?3. Will there be a financial advantage forcertified technical communicators?
  13. 13. ©TechWRITE, Inc. 2008 Slide 13Certification: Late Breaking NewsVoice of the Market workshop inOctoberSenior executives invited from various companies to discuss valueof TC.Intention is develop a single value statement of why employersshould hire us.Result of the STC-commission study by Rick O’Sullivan entitled“What Makes a Profession Professional.”No direct impact on CTF.Possibility of engaging a consultantCTF “quick and dirty” BoKCTF surveyTimeline
  14. 14. ©TechWRITE, Inc. 2008 Slide 14Certification: Contact InfoSteve Jong – CTF LeaderSTC_CTF@yahoogroups.comSteveFJong@comcast.netHillary Hart – BoK Leaderhart@mail.utexas.eduYahoo web site -