Professional certifications demand a robust understanding of the knowledge and specialized skills that are necessary to perform with a high degree of competence in a field. Additional annual requirements for training or practice ensure currency of skill and knowledge of new developments in that field. In every profession, professional certification helps employee, employer, and the consumer.
Employees benefit from professional certification in several ways:
- First is the validation of the employee’s skills and knowledge by a third party. In the case of STC’s Certified Professional Technical Communicator credential, the Society for Technical Communication (the largest and oldest association for technical communicators, technical writers, and content professionals) provides that validation. Additionally STC is working with a vendor whose accreditation processes follow ISO standards. For the employee, STC’s Certified Professional Technical Communicator certification is professional milestone that carries weight and credibility among peers, clients, and organizational leaders.
- A second and important benefit for employees is differentiation from others in the hiring process and the ability to command higher pay. Professional certification is an important credential on a resume and provides evidence of qualifications. It denotes a level of competency and is an indicator of commitment and quality performance and output. For those not looking for jobs, obtaining certification may be a requirement for advancement or a way of standing out from peers or competitors and commanding higher pay or more responsibilities.
- Third, on a personal level, the certification process and requirement for annual training forces the practitioner to stay current, work on multiple types of jobs, learn new skills, and network with peers. The practitioner stays engaged in and committed to the field through certification.
Employers also benefit from professional certification:
- Professional certification is a quality marker that helps an employer gauge the effectiveness and qualifications of a potential hire. It reduces risk and simplifies the search through validation of knowledge and by providing a hiring baseline. When professional certification is a requirement in a job posting, it greatly focuses the candidate pool. Since the employer is depending on an independent validation to verify a candidate’s skill, it is important that the certification is granted by an established and credible organization such as STC.
- Employers want their hires to stay current and continue to grow in the profession. Professional certification programs provide milestones for employees, and after completing a certification qualification, remains a driver of continuing education and training. Employers can use achievement of professional certification as a requirement for advancement or pay increases as well.
- Finally, certified professionals with proven knowledge and competency will contribute more to an organization. They may be faster or more accurate workers, and they may be more creative or insightful in solving related business problems. And certified employees provide evidence that an organization’s technical communication team is more qualified than that of its competitors.
With certified professionals in the workforce, the consumer is better off as well. Knowledgeable workers result in better communications: instructions are more easily understood, warnings are relayed properly, descriptions are complete, content can be reused, and the device used to access the content doesn’t limit the user. For technical communicators, professional certification sets a standard for skills, knowledge, and performance across the field of content work and information products
The Society for Technical Communication is fulfilling one of its mandates as an association by creating and sponsoring professional certification for technical communicators. We hope all of our members, academics, students, and others in the field take advantage of this program.