At long last: certification!

As you’ve heard by now, at the STC Summit on April 30 the Board of Directors approved a business plan to begin a certification program for technical communicators. While this was the culmination of my three years as chairman of the Certification Task Force, it also represented the completion of a task that was first discussed at the Annual Conference in 1964 and first taken up by STC committees in 1975. A lot of people worked for a very long time on this!

These are the major elements of the program:

  • The program is aimed at the widest possible range of practitioners, covering six areas of practice that cross disciplines and subjects where technical communicators provide unique value
  • The program is aimed at experienced practitioners, not just STC members (but not new graduates)
  • For the time being, the assessment is performance based, not examination based (no tests!)
  • Once granted, certification is good for three years (if you want to stay certified, you need to recertify)
  • Assessment is carried out in the manner of the publications competition and Fellows vetting process
  • We hope to start accepting applications beginning at the 2011 Summit

I am the chairman of the Certification Committee, a Board-level successor to the Certification Task Force. I will post more about the details and remaining issues, and I hope you will comment and ask questions, because as yet nothing is completely nailed down. The small matter of implementation is not so small! But we are no longer blazing a trail and choosing paths; we are following others down a path we have selected. I know we can get there!

Published by Steven Jong

I am a retired technical communicator, a Fellow of the Society for Technical Communication (STC), a former STC board member, and chair of the first STC Certification Commission. I occasionally blog about these and other topics.

One thought on “At long last: certification!

  1. before, I’m proud to be a technical wtreir, but I’m sick and tired of our being undervalued in most organizations. As long as HR departments only see a lower-order description of what we do, companies are unlikely to consider us to be valuable. Less valuable means lower pay and status, earlier layoffs, etc. To bring the perception of our field into the 21st century, I think we have no choice but to work to update how it is officially defined. I certainly can assist with layout work, but I also can help with product design, usability, and information architecture and develop online help, e-learning, and other multimedia job aids. I love Alice’s positive attitude about explaining what we do in easily graspable terms, but we can’t count on having one of us available to explain what we do to every HR Department. So, in my opinion, updating the official occupational definitions remains extremely important to the future of our profession.


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