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Gaining an Edge with CPTC Certification

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By Chris Hester | STC Fellow and CPTC accredited trainer

Not too long ago, a friend asked what my biggest accomplishment was for 2016. That was a tough one. I incorporated my business, spoke at a couple of events, and completed the Certified Professional Technical Communicator (CPTC) Foundation Certification. I also became an accredited CPTC trainer.

My friend, who is a recruiter, asked me to explain. What does that mean? What is that certification?

So I did. The CPTC program is a three-tiered certification program: Foundation, Practitioner, and Expert. Starting with Foundation, each tier builds on the previous one, setting standards for our knowledge, skills, and performance as professionals. To earn the CPTC Foundation designation, I had to pass an exam that covers nine core skill areas of technical communication.

The certification means I have demonstrated the knowledge and skills we need as technical communicators. Yes, my graduate degree does the same thing, but that degree is from a time when our profession argued over Word vs. WordPerfect, not Word vs. FrameMaker. Certification has the added requirement that I make time for professional development and earn continuing education units (CEUs). I now seek out opportunities to learn (by attending events) and share (by writing or presenting)—both of which are ways to earn CEUs.

For my recruiter friend, certification means she gets to work with a job applicant who is competent, has met standards for knowledge and skills, and is committed to the profession. Knowing the certification is granted through STC, an established organization, gives the program credibility. When considering her clients, she can be confident that a Certified Professional Technical Communicator will deliver consistent, high-quality work. This ultimately reflects well on her and her agency.

She laughed. “What I’m hearing is this certification gives you an advantage. That means it gives me an advantage. Send me an updated résumé.”

In the months since becoming a CPTC trainer, I’ve had similar conversations with colleagues and hiring managers. They want to learn more about earning certification or hiring CPTC-credentialed professionals. As this interest grows, there has never been a better time to complete the CPTC Foundation Certification!

I’ll be teaching a CPTC Foundation Exam Prep Class at the STC Summit in May. This two-day class focuses on the nine core skill areas and prepares you to take the exam at the end of the second day.

  • Be prepared: CPTC Foundation level is the prerequisite to earning the Practitioner level, the next tier to be launched.
  • Get a study packet: The special Study Packet registration rate includes the official Richard Johnson-Sheehan text used in class, as well as online flash cards.
  • Jumpstart your CEUs: Students who complete the class will receive a complementary STC Education webinar (worth 2 CEUs).
  • Sign up with a coworker. Get a 10% discount when you register at the same time as a coworker.
  • Class isn’t your thing? If you have been studying on your own, sign up to take the paper exam at the Summit.

Register now for the CPTC Foundation Exam Prep Class, held 6-7 May at the STC Summit in Washington, DC.

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