Gaining an Edge with CPTC Certification

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.

CPTC Textbook Winners


Last week, the STC membership department had a contest to give away copies of STC’s CPTC (Certified Professional Technical Communicator) textbook, Richard Johnson-Sheehan’s Technical Communication Today, Fifth Edition (a $99 value!), to those who joined STC or renewed their 2017 membership. We had an excellent response to the contest, and we’d like to congratulate the winners!

The winners of the CPTC textbook are:

Douglas Beagley

Heidi Hanson

Congratulations again to our winners, and thanks to all who activated their 2017 membership.  To learn more about STC and to activate your membership, please visit us online here. Click here for more information about the CPTC program and how to get certified. Contact the membership department with any questions at or call +1 (703) 522-4114.

STC’s New Career Center has launched!


In keeping with our commitment to providing the best resources to our members, we are excited to announce the launch of our new and expanded online employment resource: STC’s Career Center. This upgraded service includes features that make it that much easier to facilitate connections between technical communication professionals and employers.

We are asking job seekers and employers to start populating STC’s new Career Center with résumés and job postings. Here are just a few of the enhancements we are rolling out to serve you better in the coming weeks.

For Employers:

  • Post a job and save today – Use promo code STCJOBS and save 10% on your first job posting!
  • Unmatched exposure for job listings – STC represents the largest audience of qualified technical communication professionals.
  • Easy online job management – You can enter job descriptions, check the status of postings, renew or discontinue postings, and even make payments online.
  • Résumé searching access – With a paid job listing, you can search the résumé database and use an automatic notification system to receive email notifications when new resumes match your criteria.
  • Company awareness – Along with each job posting, you can include information about your company and a link to your website.

For Job Seekers:

  • Professional Profile – Create a user-friendly professional presentation of your qualifications with information pre-populated from your résumé.
  • Job Agents – Let the system find new jobs for you! Establish your search parameters and be notified automatically whenever a matching job is posted.
  • Searchable Portfolio – Increase your exposure to employers by uploading up to five career-related documents such as work samples, certification letters, etc.
  • Job Application Preview – Before submitting an application, preview it as an employer will see it.
  • Google Maps – Assess a potential commute right from the job detail screen.  Our Google Maps feature will display a map with the distance between your home and the employer.
  • Certification – Stand out in the crowd! Highlight yourself and your résumé as a STC CPTC professional.

There is no other online service in the tech comm industry that will provide the level of functionality contained in STC’s new Career Center.  Your support is essential to us, and we invite you to discover the advantages of posting your job or résumé today!

To view a complete list of benefits and different membership types, click here. If you have questions, please contact or call us directly at + 1 (703) 522-4114.

CPTC Certification, REST APIs, Mobile Apps, and more at Summit Precon!


Looking for more reasons to attend the Summit, 15-18 May, in Anaheim, California? Why not come in early and get a jumpstart on your Summit education by taking one of our preconference workshops, or advance your career by attending the CPTC certification preconference prep course and taking the exam? These in-depth half or full day workshops will give you hands on experience and tangible takeaways to implement in your work.

Two Day Course
Saturday, 14 May: 8:30 AM – 4:30 PM
Sunday, 15 May: 8:30 AM – 5:00 PM
CPTC Foundation Certification Preparatory Course & Exam, Alan Houser

Full Day Workshops
8:30 AM – 4:30 PM
Creating Mobile Apps without Coding, Neil Perlin
Information Visualization: Seeing Through the Numbers, Phylise Banner

Half Day Workshops: Morning
8:30 AM – 12:00 PM
Creating an Online Course, Matt Sullivan
Documenting Rest APIs, Tom Johnson
Writing in English for the Global Market, Ray Gallon

Half Day Workshops: Afternoon
1:00 – 4:30 PM
Adobe Captivate vs. Articulate Storyline vs. TechSmith Camtasia Studio: Which eLearning Tool is Right for You?, Kevin Siegel
Developing User Assistance for Mobile Apps, Joel Welinske
Gamifying Writing Skills, Leah Guren

Additional rates apply for these sessions. You may register for these when you complete your full conference registration. Already registered for the Summit? Email Deborah Repasy a completed registration form to add a preconference session.

Register today! See you in Anaheim!

Summit ’13: Enjoy Coffee and Face Time with a Certification Commissioner

The STC Summit, 5-8 May in Atlanta, GA, is fast approaching.  As you consider the numerous sessions, seminars, luncheons and other events to attend, consider sitting down with one of the STC certification commissioners to discuss the many benefits to earning one of the credentials the Commission offers.  Educate yourself about the credentials and the value of certification.

Visit Booth #406 in the exhibit hall and spend a few minutes with a knowledgeable certification commissioner who will answer your questions directly regarding the value of the credential, who is eligible, the process and cost for submitting, tips for a successful portfolio entry, and much more.  There will also be discussion about certification’s importance to employers and just what having this credential says about the technical communication industry.

Additionally, anyone who submits a completed interest form—located in your attendee bag—will receive a Starbucks card to grab a cup of coffee on your own (perhaps to enjoy while you are working on your credentialing submission!).

Educate yourself now about certification and bring your questions, concerns, enthusiasm, and more to make the most of your time with our certification commissioners.  We look forward to hearing from you and telling you more about this important benchmark in your career.

If you’re not attending the Summit and want to talk to a commissioner, or if you want to learn more about events in Atlanta, email Steven Jong, chair of the STCCC.