Are you new to the field of technical communication and looking for ways to expand your knowledge and career options? Maybe you’re an experienced technical communicator but need to balance your skillset by improving your abilities in certain areas. Or maybe you’ve done the work of a technical communicator but without the job title and need a way to validate your knowledge. During the Certified Professional Technical Communicator Webinar recently hosted by STC Carolina, Chris Hester of Red Desk Studio and Jamie Gillenwater of Transcend Text answered these and many other questions related to becoming a Certified Professional Technical Communicator. Chris and Jamie are also the founders of CPTC Training, which offers a variety of options for CPTC exam preparation.

Chris got things started by discussing the difference between achieving an industry certification based on standards defined by a governing body, such as the Society for Technical Communication, and receiving a certificate based solely on attendance and participation. Certificate programs can be a useful way to learn more about a particular topic, but they typically don’t include an evaluation process that leads to a professional designation. Just as accountants can become Certified Public Accountants, technical communicators can become Certified Professional Technical Communicators.

In addition to obtaining a professional designation, there are other good reasons to become a CPTC. Students working toward a degree in technical communication may be able to take classes that offer credit toward their degree while helping to prepare them for the CPTC exam. Colleges that offer course credit for CPTC exam prep classes include Rochester Institute of Technology, Wilmington University, and Seneca College. Northeastern University grants CPTC-certified students 4 credit hours toward a Master of Science degree in Technical Communication. If you are just getting started as a technical communicator, becoming a CPTC can help you develop and improve your technical communication skills, as well as providing you with a way to demonstrate to potential employers that you are capable of getting the job done.  For experienced technical communicators, getting certified is a good way to fill any gaps in your knowledge, as well as demonstrating to current and potential employers that you are a qualified professional who is committed to doing quality work. And if you’ve been doing the work of a technical communicator but have a different job title, CPTC certification can open doors to new job opportunities. Technical communicators who have successfully achieved CPTC certification receive digital badges for their social media profiles and are listed in both the STC and APMG databases of certified practitioners.

If you are just getting started as a technical communicator, becoming a CPTC can help you develop and improve your technical communication skills, as well as providing you with a way to demonstrate to potential employers that you are capable of getting the job done.

So, how does one become a Certified Professional Technical Communicator? Simple – just take the CPTC exam. Of course, you will need to be adequately prepared if you want to pass the exam. The exam consists of fifty multiple-choice questions, and there is a forty minute time limit. Test-takers need to answer seventy percent (thirty-five) of the questions correctly in order to pass. All questions are based on the CPTC competency model, which includes nine core competencies developed by STC: project planning, project analysis, content development, organizational design, written communication, visual communication, reviewing and editing, content management, and production and delivery. The cost for taking the exam is $250 for STC members and $495 for non-members. Visit stc.org/certification for more information and to register for the exam.

To improve their chances of passing the exam, many CPTC test-takers take advantage of some kind of test preparation. There are many test preparation options available, from self-study courses to in-person training with an accredited instructor. The latter option is of course more expensive, but offers the most direct access to knowledgeable support. In addition to self-study and in-person options, there are also live and recorded online courses available. All of these options use the same textbook – Technical Communication Today, 5th Edition. Visit stc.org/certification to learn more about preparing for the CPTC exam and to download a free CPTC study guide. Visit cptctraining.com to learn more about in-person and online training options.

To improve their chances of passing the exam, many CPTC test-takers take advantage of some kind of test preparation. There are many test preparation options available, from self-study courses to in-person training with an accredited instructor.

Many thanks to Chris Hester and Jamie Gillenwater for taking some time to share their knowledge about becoming a Certified Professional Technical Communicator. To view a recording of the entire webinar, go to https://vimeo.com/297622013.

Event recap contributed by Dave Lines.