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Certification in Technical Writing

There are many opinions and numerous articles about certification in IT. Like other IT professions, technical writers also have their certification programs — they may not be as well-known as certifications AWS for architects, DevOps, or data analysts, but they still exist. In this article, we will examine certification organizations and their key programs for technical writers and briefly overview each program. I hope the information in this article will be helpful for the technical writing community and assist in making an informed decision regarding certification.


Tekom

Tekom is one of the most significant associations specializing in technical communication and technical writing. This German organization contributes to the development and elevation of standards in the field of technical communication and provides various services. The organization hosts thematic events such as educational courses, training sessions, webinars, conferences, seminars, and other activities.


Membership in tekom can offer a range of benefits for technical writers, including access to educational programs and informational resources, participation in industry events, and more.


Anyone interested can become part of the vast technical writing community through individual or corporate programs. The membership fee, which depends on various factors, costs an average of around 130 EUR per year. More detailed information about membership fees can be found in the document Membership Fees.


Tekom also offers certification programs. Certification costs depend on various conditions, but it starts from 130 EUR. All the conditions regarding the cost can be found in the document Fee Schedule for tekom Certification.


STC (Society for Technical Communication)

SSTC is an American organization that closely resembles tekom. It also serves as a platform for technical writers, organizing industry events and providing members access to various resources, including journals and online community interactions.


The cost of membership in this community depends on the package, differing in the level of access to services. There is a special rate for retirees and students, but excluding these rates, the average cost of membership in the organization is 240 USD per year. You can find a complete list of plans and services on this page.


The STC certification program is divided into three levels. Each level has a different number of questions:

  1. Foundation Level Certification (Level I). Initial level. Certification cost – 630 USD (for STC member – 315 USD). View sample questions

  2. Practitioner Level Certification (Level II). Intermediate level. Certification cost – 753 USD (for STC member – 443 USD). View sample questions

  3. Expert Level Certification (Level III). Advanced level. Certification cost – 633 USD (for STC member – 371 USD)

It's important to note that to achieve a higher-level certification, successful completion of exams for the preceding levels is required. For example, to qualify for the Expert Level, successful completion of the Practitioner Level is necessary. Achieving the Practitioner Level, in turn, requires passing the Foundation Level exams.


Oregon State University (OSU)

Oregon State University (OSU) is a large public university in Oregon, USA. OSU is known for its high-quality academic programs, including science, technology, engineering, agriculture, and the arts. Although the university does not have a specific focus on technical writing, it does offer courses for technical writers.


To obtain the certificate, you need to complete a series of at least 5 courses:

  1. Technical Writing Course: Free Introduction (self-paced). This free course does not impact certificate attainment and is intended for self-paced completion within a range of 2 to 10 hours

  2. Technical Writing Course: Manuals - Instructions and Overviews. Cost: 499 USD + 60 USD (registration fee). Duration: 4 weeks (72 hours)

  3. Technical Writing Course: Technical Editing – SOPs and Flowcharts. Cost: 499 USD + 60 USD (registration fee). Duration: 4 weeks (72 hours)

  4. Technical Writing Course: Single-Sourcing and Methodology. Cost: 499 USD + 60 USD (registration fee). Duration: 4 weeks (72 hours)

  5. Technical Writing Course: Usability and User-Centered Design. Cost: 499 USD + 60 USD (registration fee). Duration: 4 weeks (72 hours)

  6. Technical Writing Course: Portfolio Creation. Cost: 499 USD + 60 USD (registration fee). Duration: 4 weeks (72 hours)

The full package of 5 courses costs 2495 USD + 60 USD (registration fee). While courses can be taken in any order, beginners are recommended to follow the provided sequence. Of course, the portfolio creation course should be taken last.


International Technical Communication Qualifications Foundation (ITCQF)

ITCQF is a Polish organization specializing in technical writing. It develops educational programs and materials for certifying technical writers, including training for certification preparation and sample questions. However, the organization does not conduct training sessions and exams; instead, it collaborates with accredited providers responsible for organizing and administering the certification process. The certification cost is not a fixed amount but depends on the specific service provider.


  • The exam lasts for 60 minutes

  • The certification exam consists of 40 multiple-choice questions

  • Each correct answer earns 1 point

  • Questions may have multiple correct answers

  • To successfully pass the exam and obtain certification, a minimum of 30 questions must be answered correctly, reaching at least a 75% accuracy rate

On the ITCQF website, you can find interesting materials highlighting the importance of technical writing for various stakeholders, an analysis of the job market in Central and Eastern European countries, and more.


Among the accredited service providers for ITCQF, there can be universities, such as the Polish Vistula University. This university offers an educational program in technical communication, costing 6800 PLN (or around 1660 USD), designed for 2 semesters. The program provides the opportunity to obtain the ITCQF certificate at a cost of 800 PLN (approximately 195 USD).


Conclusions

Whether or not to pass certification is a personal choice of each tech writer. However, remember that to become a skilled professional, you don't need to spend a lot of money obtaining numerous certificates. The key is knowledge, which can be acquired even for free. All you need is the desire and inspiration to become a highly qualified expert in any field, including technical writing, as the internet offers many resources. The article Resources that Ukrainian tech writers advise in 2023 is explicitly created to assist technical writers in enhancing their skills.

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2 comentários


Ivan Cheban
Ivan Cheban
03 de jan.

Thanks for this awesome overview! Very useful and everything in one place. 😇

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Respondendo a

TY for kind words. It inspires me to write new articles)

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