Tag Archives: skills

Carliner: HRD Certification – Lessons for Technical Communicators?

Carliner, Saul. “Certification and the Branding of HRD.” Human Resource Development Quarterly 23, no. 3 (2012): 411-19.


Saul Carliner suggests that human resource development (HRD) is a growing professional area, but lacks official certification programs to train new HRD professionals. He uses this article to discuss what training programs are available and how these programs and aid the development of HRD professionals.

While the link between HRD professionals and technical communicators may seem tenuous, many of the arguments Carliner presents are applicable to the state of technical communication today. Carliner’s definition of a certification as “the validation of demonstrated competence in a particular field by a third-party assessor” is an important milestone. While there are numerous technical communication degree programs that allow students to demonstrate competence in many areas of technical communication, there are currently few avenues for technical communicator practitioners to establish an official demonstrated competence of their technical communicator abilities.

For technical communication to be taken seriously as a profession, certification programs need to be available and with the 2007-2009 work by Nancy Coppola to establish a broad body of knowledge, elements are in place to produce certification programs. With certification programs in place, practitioners can earn certification and are given avenues to maintain current skills and learn new skills, especially in a field as rapidly evolving as technical communication.

Carliner’s article is an example of how numerous certification programs can work together to engage the field and provide an aura of professionalization that provides authenticity and legitimacy to the profession.


Should Technical Communicators consider themselves “Human Resource Development Practitioners? Why or Why Not?

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Lanier: Jobs vs Skills Matchup

Lanier, Clinton R. “Analysis of the Skills Called for by Technical Communication Employers in Recruitment Postings.” Technical Communication 56.1 (2009): 51-61. Print.


Clinton Lanier analyzed over 300 Technical Communicator positions to establish what skillsets employers were looking for when hiring Technical Communicators and compared these advertised skills with Technical Communication curricula. His findings suggest that a curricula that mixes “hard” and “soft” skills with targeted task experience would best equip students to enter the workforce.

Lanier found evidence to support claims from two camps about the nature of technical communication curricula. In one camp, proponents argued for a tools/skills based curricula that instructs students in the tool(s) de jour, therefore helping the student gain experience in specific tool(s) to claim the advertised job. In the other camp, proponents argued for a rhetoric-based curricula that teaches principles of technical communication which students could apply in any setting. Tool(s), while important, could be taught “on-the-job” given the variety of different tools available and the range of potential software packages that could be used.

Both camps have solid arguments, and the data Lanier collected supports both sides. Lanier’s analysis, however, also led to a surprising conclusion. While previously technical communicators were seen as “lone wolves” who worked individually and outside the main content creation process, increasingly, successful technical communicators were being integrated into the main content creation process as team members. This meant that many job ads called for project management and communication skills that were not common in some technical communication curriculum. Lanier concludes that instructional courses should take this new trend in mind when producing new technical communicators.


How could technical communication curricula introduce, teach, and assess project management skills effectively?

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Filed under Education, Technical Communication