Re: certification

Subject: Re: certification
From: "LRMBA Assoc." <manualwriter -at- USA -dot- NET>
Date: Mon, 23 Nov 1998 22:36:28 -0600


I would like to share a real-life scenario related to this subject. Years
ago when I was in college I applied to a temp agency who said they would
test me on various software packages, like Lotus 1-2-3 for instance. At
that time, I had never used Lotus but being a poor industrious college
student I promptly visited the computer science lab, pulled up Lotus,
fiddled around with it for about 30 minutes and drove back to the temp
agency to take my test. I passed their test as an above average user of
Lotus. I effectively did the same on other tests as well.

Possible interpretations:
1) Their tests were so easy than anyone could do it. IMO, although
certainly the tests were not exhaustive, they did require some
understanding. I happened to be a Math/Computer double major at that time
in my sophomore year. So even though I had never used Lotus or similar
spreadsheet, mathematical formulas were not new to me.

2) The test demonstrates that certification is futile. IMO, the test DID
weed out only the obviously unqualified individuals. However, I suspect
that such individuals would have been eliminated because of numerous other
factors as well such as poor appearance, poor resume, computer shyness, and
so on. It possibly excluded a few others that might have been able to do
the job had they done a little more review before taking the test. So I
conclude that certification, although it could indeed weed out some of the
least qualified individuals, I suspect that those individuals would also be
the least likely to attempt the certification in the first place and also
the most obviously unqualified individuals (poor samples, poor references,
poor resume, or combination). There would be exceptions.

3) There are those who are able to enter Tech-Writing fields from some
other field with little training. IMHO, this is true. Statistics will
support it. People change careers all the time. Depending on how radical
the change, a pay drop may be expected, or in some case a pay increase is
obtained simply because tech-writing is in high demand. I was able to
breeze through that Lotus test because Math & Computer Science teach
concepts, not tasks--I instantly learned the concept of Lotus and didn't
even think about the tasks involved. The same can be done during a career
change--many concepts from one career can easily tranfer to the
requirements of another career, IF the person is CONCEPT ORIENTED, (many
people are task oriented).

At 07:27 PM 11/22/98 GMT, Barb Philbrick wrote:
>I've seen too many
>people waltz into the profession by simply calling themselves
>technical writers. One person I know literally did that --- "I'm now a
>technical writer" (the sad part is that management bought it. Same
>person also spent a week with Ventura and declared herself an expert.)
>Certification would prevent these types of abuses. It would also give
>a legitimate entry to the field to those who are willing to work for
>the title.
>Certificiation won't cull out all the bad writing and it won't do a
>bit of good if no one knows about it. However, I think defining a base
>set of skills for our profession is a goal worth pursuing.

Seth Buffington, President
LRMBA **mailto:manualwriter -at- usa -dot- net** (972) 928-2578
"Email: A mode of common expression, sometimes slurred" --S.B.

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