Certification of Professional Competence
Certification is an industry-based qualification that recognises knowledge and practical expertise across a range of topics that together make up a substantial portion of (in our case) the technical communication body of knowledge (TCBoK).
To be of any value to technical communicators or their current (or potential) employers, any certification in the technical communication field must be:
During 2011, the US Society for Technical Communication (STC) and tekom (the German technical communication organisation) introduced formal professional development schemes. Both schemes provide training and certification and are aimed at raising the skill level and professional standing of technical communicators.
These schemes signal a new level of awareness of the importance of professional development in our field and a move towards gaining a wider public recognition of the work we do.
STC Certification Scheme
Certification can provide a straightforward way of ensuring that a technical communicator’s qualifications and experience are recognised as meeting a set standard. In the words of the STC website certification page:
The Certified Professional Technical Communicator™ (CPTC) credential provides assurance to employers and the public that the certified practitioner possesses the knowledge, skill, and ability expected of a competent technical communicator to meet the demands of technical communication projects, today and tomorrow.
For further details go to the STC "Why Certification?" page.
Important: The STC scheme is currently open to technical communicators who are working in North America or working for a company that produces products for the North American market. This restriction is currently under review, but effectively excludes many technical communicators in Australia and New Zealand from enrolling in the STC certification programme.
Tekom Certification Scheme
The training and certification scheme offered by tekom offers a wide range of training modules, which can be accessed over the internet. The tekom scheme has three levels. To find out more, visit TC-Train.net. You can also find out more about the training modules available through the learning management system.
What is Required to Gain Certification?
Typically, in order to be certified as a technical communicator, you would be expected to:
In addition, depending on the certification you have gained, you may need to maintain your level of expertise by attending a minimum number of professional development events each year.
Could a Local Certification Scheme be Set up?
Due to the significant development and administration costs involved, it is not possible at present for your local technical communication organisations (TCANZ, ASTC (NSW) and ASTC (Vic)) to contract a third-party to provide a local training and certification scheme.
However, your local technical communication organisations will monitor the STC and tekom schemes and report back periodically to members on how those schemes are progressing.
As local awareness grows of the benefits of such training and certification schemes, your local technical communication organisations will survey their members on a regular basis to determine if there is sufficient support for the development of a local scheme.