Why Certification?


Every profession requires specialized skills, and you know you have what it takes to succeed as a professional technical communicator. But how can you tell the world? All résumés claim skills and experience; your CPTC™ certification proves it.

Whether you are an applicant seeking employment or an employer seeking capable employees, the CPTC certification tells the world that you (or your employee) meet the highest standards for technical communication. CPTC certification defines you beyond a job description or an academic degree while giving you a sense of professional and personal satisfaction. Certification also reassures your clients in the quality of your work. CPTC certification has the backing and credibility of the preeminent professional society in the world for technical communication.

Why certification? The simple answer is that to remain as competitive as possible today, you must be certified. Certification is an investment in your career, your livelihood, and your future.

Top Reasons for Certification

Legitimize the contribution of, and respect for, our profession. Certification adds to your credibility as a technical communicator and sets you apart from nonprofessional practitioners (for example, engineers who “write well”) because you have demonstrated skills, knowledge, and abilities in unique and valuable areas of technical communication practice such as information design, writing for reuse, writing for localization, and quality assurance. Legitimizing the contributions of technical communicators enhances your stature, and enhanced stature means improved morale and job satisfaction. Gaining credibility as a competent professional is a powerful driver for new practitioners as well.

Establish uniform, worldwide performance standards. Certification showcases your individual mastery by confirming both your knowledge and proficiency in the field. Today’s organizations—and the markets they serve—can be national, international, or worldwide. Employers need to identify and qualify competent workers anywhere in the world who can perform to uniform standards. The CPTC credential is the only worldwide standard that makes that possible.

Increase employability/salary of certified practitioners. Today, employers see scores of résumés for every job and have the luxury of choosing from multiple equally qualified candidates. CPTC certification clearly identifies you as someone who has demonstrated mastery of technical communication principles and techniques based on accepted best practices. Certification is often the “tiebreaker” for two critical decisions: which applicants to interview and which candidates to hire.

In other professions, certification has a documented record of increasing practitioner salaries. Why? Employers know that it costs money to find and train employees; then, if things don’t work out, it costs even more to replace them. Certified professionals are independently assured as competent, dependable practitioners, so they are cheaper to find, cheaper to train, and need replacement less often; therefore, they are worth seeking out to hire and worth paying higher salaries to retain. (This is true for all certified professionals, not just technical communicators.) Certification lets employers pick you for your knowledge, skills, and abilities—not just your rate.

The positive impacts of certification will affect you now and throughout your career. In today’s fast-changing world, employees are expected to stay abreast of new technologies. Certification improves skills and knowledge, because achieving certification requires training, study, and familiarity with best practice. And because CPTC certification requires recertification every three years, maintaining your certification gives your employer a clear indicator of your willingness to invest in your own professional development, which they recognize as a valuable trait of successful employees. Certification prepares you for greater on-the-job responsibilities, so it can give you the edge when being considered for a promotion or other career opportunities.

Satisfy employer expectations. CPTC certification assures employers that you know what need to be done to create effective technical communication products and that you possess the knowledge, skills, and abilities to do it. Once achieved, certification maintenance ensures that you are keeping your knowledge, skills and abilities current through continued professional development and access to the latest information within the STC Body of Knowledge.

Reduce risk for employers. Good technical communication is the key to successful and satisfactory usage of an organization’s products and services. Bad technical communication can lead to dissatisfied users, increased support costs, needless product repairs and returns, or even personal injury and liability. So how can employers identify competent practitioners?

For an employer, certification provides value in several ways. It provides assurance that a new employee knows what he or she is talking about. For employers that use third-party staffing sources but have no access to interview the staff directly to ascertain their competence, relying on CPTC certification enhances their confidence in the personnel being used. Practitioners familiar with best practices in information-related law and regulation and specific skills such as writing for content reuse, translation, and localization can save employers time and money. Finally, certification maintenance verifies that the time and money employers invest in individual development is well spent.

Why Certify With STC?

The Society for Technical Communication (STC) is the world's largest and oldest professional association dedicated to the advancement of the field of technical communication. The Society’s members span the diverse fields of the profession and reach across every industry and continent. Through a growing global community, the Society and its members set the global standards for technical communication. The Society, its geographic Chapters, and its Special Interest Groups (SIGs) produce a wide array of educational events throughout the year designed to advance the knowledge of members and promote technical communication education globally. STC educational events regularly feature the thought leaders and practitioners who represent the future of the profession.

The STC Certification Commission is established as an independent, third-party organization to grant credentials to technical communication practitioners, STC members and nonmembers alike. CPTC certification serves as an impartial endorsement of your skill, knowledge, and ability based on internationally established standards in technical communication. Earning the CPTC credential tells the world that you can create information products to North American market standards, the largest segment of the technical communication market.

CPTC certification is based on assessment of a submission packet of work samples, work artifacts, and responses to questions. The packet is assessed when you submit it. That means you don’t have to take a course of study at a designated learning institution (though training is available), wait months for an exam period, or travel to sit for a test at one of a few designated locations. You can apply when you want, work on your packet at your own pace, and submit it on your own schedule.

To sum up: certification is the way to go, and the CPTC certification is the credential to get!