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.
Technical writers can benefit greatly from mentoring relationships. Effective mentorships can benefit both individual technical communicators by furthering their self-development and careers, and they benefit their organization by enhancing morale and productivity.
Instructional designers increasingly find technical communicators in their territory, as technical communicators find instructional designers. Is this increasing contact merely a coincidence, or does it portend an evolutionary merger of the two fields?
Why are skills sometimes hard to measure and to manage? Because new technologies frequently require specific new skills that schools don’t teach and that labor markets don’t supply. Since information technologies have radically changed much work over the last couple of decades, employers have had persistent difficulty finding workers who can make the most of these new technologies.
Your professional development and the ultimate success of your career depend upon you alone. If you don’t want to be viewed as 'just another doe writer,' broaden your career plan by expanding your talents into areas that are important to your organization's goals.
Walk into any design classroom, at any college in America, and you’ll see a comfortable mix of male and female students. Turn your attention to the front of the classroom, or down the hall to the faculty and staff offices, and that wonderful gender balance starts to skew. Travel outside the campus, and there’s really no balance at all. But why? If there are design classrooms across the country with a 50/50 blend of men and women — and in many classrooms, there are more females than males — then why doesn’t the design field represent the same ratio?
A college degree can help you in technical writing, though maybe not in the ways you expect. How relevant is a college education for the field of technical communication? A couple of very good and influential tech writing blogs have recently discussed this issue.
Our field is young, yet great books and great ideas by technical communication gurus abound. How many of us, though, are steeped in these works? How many of us can intelligently discuss the great ideas and latest research? If new STC members ask us which authors constitute the foundation of our field, can we tell them? If so, have we read them cover to cover? Can we discuss ideas more? This paper presents the professional development programs that two STC members began in the fall of 1999. After realizing that their programs might be of interest to others, they formed a SIG called Idea Watch. In addition, they have informally polled numerous gurus and drawn up a list of “essential books.” This list is presented at the conclusion of this paper.
Bist argues that the best way for technical communicators to deepen their knowledge of their companyís product information is to teach it. Using examples from his own experience, he suggests how to prepare and teach a course on any professional subject.
Wise teachers know how to learn from their students. This paper draws on the work-experience journals of graduate students in Northeastern University’s Masters in Technical and Professional Writing (MTPW) program. Written from 1993 through 1996, the journals provide insights from these internships so that we, the teachers, can better prepare future students for the world of technical communication.
Obtaining a degree and entering the workforce is not the end of the educational experience; it is the beginning of the Life-long process of professional development. Professional development benefits employees by helping them to progress and increase their worth to the company, and it benefits management by poviding them with more skilled and knowledgeable employees, Many opportunities are available to communicators, such as professional societies, conferences, seminars, books, and journals. Communicators, then, must seek out the opportunities, devise a professional develop-merit plan, overcome the obstacles, and then implement what they have learned.
The Professional Development stem provides sessions on how to grow your 'on-the-job' and.'off-the-job' skills as technical communicators. We control our professional growth and development by continuous learning in and away from our workplaces. The Professional Development sessions during this conference will stimulate new and challenging ideas.
Can job references play an active role in shaping your career plans? Would you consider your references as part of your personal and professional network? Although most professionals may respond with a resounding 'Yes, of course!' to these questions, I realized that many of my students were skeptical about job references. To counter this, and to help improve their chances in the job market, I designed a multistep assignment that expanded students' understanding of job references and required them to identify persons who were potential job references and members of their career network. This article provides the details for the assignment.
If we don’t learn, we wither. New trends, new tools and technologies, new techniques. Even just new skills for the job. Continuous education is a key to longevity in the world of technical communication. As a freelancer, though, getting educated can be a bit of a problem. While many full-time employees have access to at least some job-specific training paid for by their employers, freelancers must shoulder the costs themselves. And training isn’t always cheap. So, how do freelancers stay current and stay sharp? Here are a few suggestions.
This article reports a study of internship requirements in technical communication programs compared with three established professions and one emerging profession that have certification or licensing requirements for practitioners. The study addresses three questions about technical communication internship programs: 1) Are internships offered as a way to fulfill program academic credit requirements? 2) If internships are offered, are they required or elective? 3) What are the minimum/maximum academic credits allowed for internships toward fulfillment of program requirements and the number of workplace hours of internship required? To answer these questions we focused on three elements of internship program management: academic credits, workplace hours per academic credit, and total workplace hours required. Our findings indicate that there is considerable disparity for these factors among programs in our field and that we lack criteria similar to those used in established professions for internships.
Identifying management candidates and training technical communicators before they get promoted to management positions can make for a very smooth and successful transition for both the candidate and the organization.
This paper provides discussion and recommendations for designing and implementing an internship program for undergraduate students majoring in the computer science and/or information technology arenas. These same techniques can also be used to acclimate new hires to the technological environment within your company. The paper uses the internship program used by IBM’s Disbursements Application Support area (i.e., payroll and travel) as a reference and also discusses the importance of having enterprise-wide support in supporting interns and new hires. Throughout this paper, “intern” and “new hire” can be used interchangeably. Topics discussed in this paper include 1) Campus interviewing, 2) Assignment of technical mentors, and 3) Sample code for selected applications.