By David Dick | STC Fellow and CPTC Certificant
I earned my Certified Professional Technical Communicator (CPTC) Foundation certification in May 2018. I’m proud knowing that I successfully passed a challenging exam that tested my knowledge of technical communication best practices. In the process, I enhanced my knowledge about the field.
Do not pursue CPTC certification just to add another acronym next to your name. Pursue the certification because it supports your career development and improves your credibility to prospective employers.
The best way to prepare for the exam is to read Technical Communication Today, 5th edition, take notes, do the practice tests at the end of each chapter, join a study group, or attend a workshop. I tried the self-study approach, took the exam twice and failed both times. I realized my mistake: I over-studied and was stressed about taking the exam. I was ready to give up on the CPTC certification when I saw that the CPTC workshop was being offered at the Summit—so I enrolled. I benefited from the workshop because I retained the course material better, which better prepared me to take the exam. I passed the exam.
A lot has changed since I earned the CPTC certification. After thirty years of working as a technical writer, I wanted a career change. A manager suggested I try proposal writing, so I applied for a position as a Principal Proposal Writer with General Dynamics IT. The hiring manager needed a skilled technical writer to write the technical volume of government proposals, and promised to send me to training to become a proposal writer. My résumé was evidence of my experience, the CPTC certification was evidence that I had the credentials, and my active membership with STC was evidence that I was serious about my career. I got the job.
My salary is $20,000 more than I was previously making and I have an office, not a cubicle with three walls, where my CPTC certificate prominently hangs. Within the first three months of employment, I attended a Shipley Associates course on managing federal proposals and writing federal proposals, and I am studying to become a certified proposal writer. I am a member of a team of professional proposal writers for government contracts. I am loving it! I consider the time and effort it took to earn the CPTC certification to be a worthwhile investment in my career.