Shared publicly  - 
The Backstory on today's post on

In the late Fall of 2011, the STC announced its charter Certification Program which was promptly followed by a lengthy and impassioned debate about the need, value, criteria, costs, etc., of the program. As I (Connie this time) watch the debate unfold, it occurred to both Al and me that the program would make a great subject for a podcast.  Steve Jong, the chairman of the STC certification commission, and a number of skeptical whirlers had been making their points very ably on the list, but the debate had broken out into several concurrent threads, and even an experienced cat herder would have had trouble figuring out all the directions it was going. So we asked him to sit down with us and talk about the program and the concerns raised by our lively bunch of TechWhirlers, which he graciously consented to do.

It was a great conversation, and Steve did a super job of going over the history (certification was a program nearly 50 years in the making), and explaining how the program was designed, its merits, and so forth. We published the audio version, and went about our way, planning to do a full transcription "soon."

Transcriptions are hard (at least for me), and there are always so many things happening with TechWhirl that "soon" dragged out for months. Luckily we finally found someone who could really do transcription well.

Fast forward to the STC Summit, where the first group of folks (8 total) were recognized with the CPTC designation. This seemed like a good opportunity to publish the transcript of that podcast, partly because it was chock full of great information on the program, and partly because you know us... we'd love to see another conversation happen around what happens next with CPTC.
Steven Jong's profile photoyehoshua paul's profile photorick sapir's profile photo
This seems to be a U.S. initiative while the technical communication market, specifically the high-tech industry is global. I fail to see this certification being used in other countries, and this is a serious issue to consider seeing that you have countries with large communities of technical writers (Israel has over 2,000), and companies that outsource their documentation processes. A local standard that is not accepted internationally is doomed to failure.
The CPTC certification is available to all practitioners who meet the eligibility requirements and who work in English to North American market standards. If you document products sold in the US or Canada, whether you work directly here or are working remotely, this certification is for you.

We are working on qualifying the certification to other market standards, starting with the EU.
There are many large companies who have documentation teams in Israel whose products are sold in the U,S. as well as the rest of the world (HP, Microsoft, Intel, Cisco to name a few). The STC is non existent here. I fail to see these companies firing there longstanding existing technical writing teams and rehiring new ones with the CPTC certification. Or going out of their way to require their technical writers to take the exam. I fail to see this picking up here or in any other country where the STC's presence is weak, and these companies products have huge markets.
Paul, the STC Israel Chapter would beg to differ that they are non-existent 8^) But this is not a program for STC, it's a program for the profession as a whole.

You mention Microsoft and Cisco. Both companies offer certifications on their products and are aware of the value of certification. Microsoft in particular encouraged us to develop certification as a means of helping them to determine which remote writers to hire. So I definitely see them using what we've given them. I don't think they will get rid of non-certified writers, but I see them recruiting certified ones. New as our program is, I can already name companies that are encouraging their writers to get certified, and companies that have paid the fees.

Why would a company do such a thing? The general case for hiring certified practitioners is this:

(1) certified practitioners are more often competent and successful than uncertified ones;

(2) certified practitioners are more cost-effective to hire and train;

(3) therefore, certified practitioners are worth seeking out and paying a premium.

This logic is not unique to technical communicators but applies to all professions. Indeed, studies of hundreds of certification programs show a salary premium for certified practitioners.

Now, our certification will take time to take root for technical communicators. But I fully expect that it will.
While I do not disagree that an STC chapter exists in Israel they have not organized any activity, nor started any serious discussions since 2010 at least.

Good luck with the certification program, when I see this requirement starting to appear in job ads, or mentioned by the major companies (Cisco's HQ in Israel is in my building), I will probably apply myself.
Add a comment...