The debate over certification of technical and professional communicators has occurred with periods of relative intensity and quiescence for more than twenty years. This article surveys the historical developments of the debate; describes the arguments for and against certification; surveys technical communication curricula and theoretical arguments for literacies, standards, and competencies; and examines various efforts to study certification, including a description of published documents regarding certification.
STC members have shown interest in being certified as technical communicators for at least 37 years. The Society has made at least four studies of certification. This paper reviews the work of the 1975-80, 1981, 1982-87 and 1994-1998 committees. The three, multi-year studies had essentially the same results; significant numbers want certification, but too few to make a full certification program economically viable. The studies also revealed that creating a certification program might be divisive. The 1982—-87 study revealed an interest by employers in STC having an accreditation program.
It is difficult for companies and employees to assess or verifiably prove qualification in technical communication. The reason is that "technical communicator" is not a legal job title and no specified legal qualification training regulations exist for the qualification – anyone can claim to be a "technical communicator" even without qualification. The tekom "Technical Communicator (tekom)" certificate solves this problem.
We can avoid much of the controversy surrounding certification when we consider it as part of a qualification process. Certification has two primary results. It provides candidates with the most effective way to achieve the required skills. It also provides us with a way to define the skills and skill levels that make us a profession. The Appraisal Institute and the American Medical Writers Association are examples of groups that offer training as part of their certification process. We can promote certification and standards within the Society and in cooperation with academic programs and industry.
Varför anlita certifierade teknikinformatörer? En uppdragsgivare som anlitar en certifierad teknikinformatör (eller tecknare, fotograf, översättare eller liknande) vet att han kan få en opartisk granskning av ett arbete som han är missnöjd med. Om granskningen utfaller till beställarens fördel kommer han med största sannolikhet att få en korrigering till stånd så a tt han blir nöjd.