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Technical Communication Certification

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Technical Communication Certification. 1. What is certification?. The process through which an organization grants recognition to an individual ... [who] meets certain established criteria. “Certificate” versus “certification” “Certification” versus “licensure” - PowerPoint PPT Presentation

Text of Technical Communication Certification

Technical Communication Certification

Technical Communication Certification1

What is certification?The process through which an organization grants recognition to an individual ... [who] meets certain established criteria.Certificate versus certificationCertification versus licensureLicensure versus accreditation2

Certification establishes a minimum level of competency

(We already have a high level of competency, called Fellow)2

Certification and professionsA profession is marked by three attributes:A unique body of knowledgeA code of ethicsCertification of qualified practitioners3In 2007, STC commissioned a study of professions. Study goals:

Provide examples of success storiesand cautionary talesfor defining professions Identify successful solutions to the pitfalls of differentiation Recommend tools and strategies to identify key functions, skills, and practices for a BoK

The result was What Makes a Profession Professional? (2008), by Rick OSullivan. Is technical communication a profession? You can be; you should be; but you arent yet. This is what we lack.

The body of knowledge is what defines a professional; without it, we are a trade.

Our BoK must consist of unique areas of expertise, not core competencies. For example, touch typing is a useful skill, but were not paid to type fast. The BoK must also be inclusive (across all kinds of technical communicators), not exclusive (different for every kinds of technical communicator).

Ethics protect our clients, not ourselves. Without it, were used-car salesmen.

Certification indicates that a practitioner (not just a member) meets the minimum standards of our profession. It is not the goal, though; professionalism is the goal.3

Certification milestonesFirst discussed in 1964First sanctioned work: Ad Hoc Committee on Certification in 1975Membership surveys: 1975, 1981, 1983, 1984, 1995, 1997Certification RFP issued in 1985; response not pursuedFeasibility study commissioned in 1998Began work on Body of Knowledge (BOK) in 2007Benchmarking report on professions in 2008Value proposition adopted in 2009Certification program approved by Board on 30 April 20104(or, What is the history of STC certification?)

It has been a long and winding road

Chicken-and-egg problem, visible in other organizations: members wanted proven value before embracing, but no proven value without

The bold path of 1964 is a state highway now; there are lots of success stories now

Started BoK work in 2007

Certification was approved in April 2010; now its just a simple matter of implementation4

Certification driversLegitimize the contributions of, and respect for, our professionEstablish uniform worldwide performance standardsIncrease the employability and salary of certified practitionersSatisfy employers expectationsReduce hiring risk for employersBring in non-dues revenue for the Society5The reasons why an organization would want certification are called drivers. The following drivers were identified by the CTF in April 2009 and validated by a panel of professionals at the STC Summit in May 2009. The drivers were accepted by the Board of Directors in August 2010.

Everyonepractitioners, employers, and the Societystands to gain from certification. In fact, everyone stands to make money.5

Guiding principlesCertification is voluntaryCertification focuses on uniform areas of practice where technical communicators provide unique valueApplicants must meet prerequisites to be eligible for certificationApplicants must demonstrateknowledge, skills, and experienceAssessment involves a variety of methodsA core certification provides the basis for certification growthApplicants must agree to adhere to the STC Code of EthicsOpportunities are provided to applicants for remediationOnce granted, certification must be maintained6The CTF identified, and in April 2010 the Board of Directors approved, the following set of guiding principles for creating an STC certification process. They are common and ordinary, but each has consequences that shape the certification program.

Being certified will not be a requirement for STC membership, and STC membership will not be a requirement for certification. Adherence to this principle will avoid potential anti-trust issues, and is necessary for an STC certification program to be accredited.

By focusing on uniform areas of practice, certification will appeal to the widest possible range of practitioners, and provide the greatest return on investment. By focusing on areas where technical communicators provide unique value, we set STC certification apart from other certification programs and maximize certifications value to employers.

To establish minimum standards, an applicant must meet a defined set of requirements before applying for certification.

These areas are all necessary to a successful practitioner, so certification will assess all of these areas. An applicant without some combination of knowledge, skills, and experience cannot be certified.

Using a variety of methods, tools, and approaches will provide accurate evaluations and assessments. This avoids the uncertainties inherent in any single method of assessment.

Because technical communicators can specialize in a number of sub-disciplines, STC certification will have a common certification as well as specialized sub-certifications, which can be developed in the future.

Adherence to a code of ethics, which protects employers, clients, and customers, is a core element of any profession. While it is impractical to add this as a requirement for membership, it can be made a requirement for certification.

If an applicant is denied certification, there must be a policy for reexamination and a mechanism for appeal to an impartial body.

Certification is granted for a limited period of time. To maintain certification, the recipient must participate in approved continuing-education activities. This demonstrates an ongoing commitment to excellence and encourages recipients to stay up to date with tools, technologies, and best practices.6

Areas of practiceUser, task, and experience analysisInformation designProcess managementInformation developmentInformation productionReview coordination and reconciliation7Six areas of practice

1995: NorthWest Center for Emerging Technologies (NWCET) published a study (updated in 2003) on technical communication job competencies that was accepted by the Board as accurate

Excellent agreement with ISO standard for user documentation (ISO 26514)

Validation through academic research

Define the users of the information and analyze the tasks that the information must support.

Plan information deliverables to support tasks. Design the organization, presentation, and technical architecture (where appropriate) for each deliverable.

Plan deliverables schedule and monitor project process against that schedule.

Preparing material in conformance to the design plan, through an iterative process of creation, review, and revision.

Using the specified authoring software and templates so the deliverable conforms to all design and production guidelines.

Managing review processes in which input on draft material is sought from subjectmatter experts, editors, users, and other stakeholders.7

Example of salary impact8Whats in it for me? Well, in addition to legitimacy and respect...

Impact on salaries, compared with non-certified practitioners:Project Management Institute (after 25 years of certification): PMPs +17% (shown) [Source: PMIs Project Management Salary Survey Fourth Edition, for PMP holders based in the US, from PMI Leadership Institute Meeting, January 2007]Association of Financial Professionals: Certified support staff +30%Institute of Management Accountants: CPA, CMAs, and CFMs +27%Certified Fraud Examiners: +22%American Association of Professional Coders (2007): certified coders +17%; 41% of positions are closed to non-certified codersCertified Information Systems Auditor: +10%Impact on organizations:Human Resources Certification Institute (HRCI) Value of Certification Survey (2008): 48% say their company believes that hiring HR professionals gives a competitive edge; 73% of leaders say certified HR professionals inspire greater trust and confidence from colleaguesInternational Data Corporation (IDC) white paper on MS certification conclusion: Get as many certified engineers as possibleService-Oriented Architecture (SOA) Institute: Businesses spend $6525 per person on certification; 90% say they got expected ROIImpact on the hiring decision:ISCC: 90% who hire IS staff say certification is importantHRCI: 50% say hiring managers consider certification8

Value to employers9Employers find that certified professionals are more often competent and successful than uncertified onesEmployers spend less to hire, train, and replace certified employeesTherefore, employers seek out and pay more for certified professionals

The real question isnt whats in it for me? but how does this work?

Rick OSullivan, an economist by trade, explained it to us three years ago. Here is the generalized economic argument why employers pay higher salaries to certified employees.

You can interview to find good employees, but often you cant interview (as when you engage a third-party firm).

Theres a risk to selecting applicants, if you pass over someone in a protected class. There is no risk in selecting a certified applicant over an uncertified applicant, no matter who is in what protected class.

Replacing an employee can cost the equivalent of 3-4 months salary. Higher retention rates save employers money.9

Fee schedule (TBD)ISPI: $995The Data Ware