How a technical writing certificate can boost your career

Technical writing certification has been a touchy subject in communities devoted to the field. Many discussions have revolved around how a certification process might add unnecessary bureaucracy, or how challenging it would be to set fair requirements for such certification.

However, for the individual, the benefits of certification are hard to ignore. Here are some ways that a technical writing certificate can boost your career.

  • By enhancing your reputation. Earning a certificate keeps you involved, and being involved is a great way to turn your name into a brand. People like Tony Self, Joe Welinske, and JoAnn Hackos have built reputations in the technical writing community that have allowed them to succeed in related industries such as consulting, training, and publishing; all great ways to make money and leverage technical writing skills.
  • By building your network. I've heard many STC critics say things like, "Why would I want to waste time hanging around my competition?" That's absurd. Why do future business leaders attend schools like Harvard and Wharton? Because they build networks of peers that will open doors in the future and offer support and advice during hard times. Other writers who are paying cash and working hard to earn a technical writing certificate have the ambition to become future leaders. Get to know them now. They could become future business partners or hiring managers.
  • By providing exposure to the daily realities of a technical writing career. Universities are aimed at providing a well rounded education and a solid grounding in theory. Technical writing certificate programs, on the other hand, are focused on developing a more targeted set of skills that will allow you to be productive immediately. While other new graduates are learning the ropes, you'll be able to hit the ground running.
  • By revealing gaps in your existing skill set and filling them. If you've been working in the same job for a while, chances are you are repeatedly using the same skills, while others are fading from neglect. A certification process made up of technical writing courses or seminars could help you brush up on technical writing skills that you haven't had a chance to use in your daily projects at work. Many online technical writing programs offer certification or advanced degrees to help you further your career.
  • By helping you compete with others who are already certified. Failure to do so could cost you at your next job interview or contract opportunity.
  • By increasing the size of your paycheck. Certification increases your value as an employee, and can be used to argue for a higher salary. If you are a consultant, you can use your certification to justify higher rates.
  • By providing proof of expertise. Certification, much like an advanced degree, can give you the necessary clout to act as an expert speaker in your field. It can help build trust in the minds of others.
  • By adding clout to your resume. This is especially beneficial to those transitioning to technical writing from other fields, or recent graduates who have little work experience. A technical writing certificate can make a sparse resume look more promising.

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