A Monumental Day Dawns for Technical Communicators: Certification!

by James Cameron on 2 May 2010

The Society for Technical Communication (STC) announced today that certification for the technical communication field has been approved. Within the next year, technical communicators will be able to attain certification in their profession.

Certification creates two enormous benefits for our profession and for practitioners. First, certification establishes a solid foundation for the legitimacy and economic contribution of technical communication. Second, certified practitioners can clearly demonstrate their expertise as technical communicators, greatly enhancing their value in the marketplace.

Practitioners will become certified in six core competency areas:

• User analysis
• Document design
• Project management
• Authoring (content creation)
• Delivery
• Quality assurance

As a result, employers and clients alike will now have a concrete idea of the expertise, contribution, and value that technical communicators bring to the marketplace. STC is developing a page on its website dedicated to promoting certification and explaining the value of certified technical communicators.

Two days ago, on 30 April, the STC Board of Directors accepted a business case from its Certification Task Force. This historic event occurred after 35 years of ongoing and difficult discussion. The Society has embraced the idea of certification for technical communicators, and in the coming months will be developing a certification program.

Certification will be based on assessing portfolios and work artifacts, not examinations. (In other words, there are no tests.) This method takes advantage of the existing methodology and infrastructure of both the publications competitions and the Associate Fellow and Fellow process. To implement the program, STC is defining assessment criteria for each of these six competency areas, then recruiting a network of examiners to review applications. In the future, as the Body of Knowledge is fleshed out, STC will look at adding an exam-based assessment as another certification method.

Once conferred, certification will be valid for three years. To ensure that competencies are kept relevant, certified professionals must become recertified for another three years. As with many other professions, recertification involves completing and participating in educational and professional activities. STC currently has a number of these opportunities available, and will be creating more in the upcoming year.

Member and nonmember certification and recertification fess are still being developed; however, these fees will be comparable to certification programs of similar associations.

To learn more, attend the “Status of Certification for Technical Communicators” session Wednesday morning, 5 May, at 11:30 AM in Cumberland KL during STC’s Summit in Dallas, Texas. The Certification Task Force will report on its process, progress, and future. You can also expect to hear much more about certification in the coming weeks!

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