Top 10 Senior Technical Writer Certifications
This article provides an overview of the top certifications available for senior technical writers.
Published 18 min read
Certifications are important for senior technical writers in the job market because they demonstrate a level of expertise and knowledge in the field. They provide employers with evidence that the writer has a deep understanding of their craft, as well as the ability to effectively communicate complex information. Certifications can also help writers stand out from other candidates and give them an advantage when seeking promotions or higher-level positions. Additionally, certifications can open up opportunities for more specialized roles, such as writing for certain industries or designing user manuals. Ultimately, having certifications can make senior technical writers more attractive to potential employers and help them stay competitive in today’s job market.
The purpose of the article is to review the most beneficial certifications for Senior Technical Writers and discuss how they can enhance a senior technical writer's career.
What are Senior Technical Writer Certifications?
Senior Technical Writer Certification is a professional certification program designed to recognize and validate the expertise of experienced technical writers. It is administered by the Society for Technical Communication (STC), an international organization dedicated to promoting excellence in technical communication. The certification is aimed at experienced technical writers who have demonstrated their ability to write effectively, accurately, and clearly in a variety of formats and contexts.
By obtaining Senior Technical Writer Certification, individuals are able to demonstrate their experience and expertise in the field of technical writing. This can help them gain recognition from employers or clients, as well as advance their career opportunities. The certification also provides a way for employers to identify skilled professionals who have achieved a high level of proficiency in their craft. Additionally, it can help those seeking advancement within their current organization or those looking for new opportunities with other organizations by providing recognition of their skills and qualifications.
The Senior Technical Writer Certification program consists of an examination on topics such as written communication strategies, document design, usability testing, and information architecture. To be eligible for the exam, candidates must meet certain requirements including four years of full-time work experience as a professional technical writer or related field; have completed at least 10 approved courses; and receive recommendations from two STC members or recognized industry experts. Upon completion of the exam and meeting all requirements, individuals will be awarded the Certified Senior Technical Writer (CSTW) designation.
Pro Tip: To become a senior technical writer, you should consider pursuing certification in the field. Certification demonstrates your knowledge and commitment to the profession, and can help you stand out from other applicants when looking for a job or promotion. It also provides an opportunity to network with other experienced technical writers and learn more about the industry.
Related: What does a Senior Technical Writer do?
Top 10 Senior Technical Writer Certifications
Here’s our list of the best certifications available to Senior Technical Writers today.
1. Certified Professional Technical Communicator (CPTC)
Certified Professional Technical Communicator (CPTC) is a professional certification program offered by the Society for Technical Communication (STC). It is designed to recognize and validate the skills and knowledge of technical communicators who produce high-quality, accurate, clear, and effective technical communication.
The CPTC program consists of three core courses: Introduction to Technical Communication, Writing for Technical Communication, and Editing for Technical Communication. The program also includes an online exam that tests your knowledge of the material covered in the courses. To be eligible to take the exam you must have completed all three courses or have equivalent experience.
It typically takes approximately six months to complete all three courses and pass the exam. However, this can vary depending on individual circumstances such as how much time you are able to dedicate to studying each week.
To get started with the CPTC program you will need to register with STC and pay the registration fee which currently stands at $195 USD. Once registered you will receive access to all three courses which can be taken online or through self-study materials provided by STC.
Once you have successfully passed the online exam you will become a Certified Professional Technical Communicator (CPTC). This certification is valid for two years after which time it must be renewed by taking an additional course or passing another exam.
2. Certified Technical Communication Specialist (CTCS)
Certified Technical Communication Specialist (CTCS) is a professional certification program that recognizes the expertise of technical communicators in the field of technical communication. It is administered by the Society for Technical Communication (STC).
The CTCS certification process requires applicants to demonstrate their knowledge and proficiency in various areas of technical communication, including writing, editing, design, project management, and multimedia. Applicants must also have at least three years of experience in the field.
To become certified, applicants must first complete an online application form and submit it to STC along with a fee of $250 USD. Once approved, applicants must pass an online assessment consisting of multiple-choice questions about topics related to technical communication. The assessment takes approximately two hours to complete.
Once applicants pass the assessment, they will receive their CTCS certificate within two weeks. The certificate is valid for three years and can be renewed by completing additional continuing education courses or passing another assessment.
3. Certified Professional Editor (CPE)
Certified Professional Editor (CPE) is a qualification awarded by the Editors Canada, a professional association for editors in Canada. It is the highest level of certification available to editors in Canada and demonstrates that an editor has achieved a high level of knowledge and expertise in editing.
To become a Certified Professional Editor, an editor must have at least five years of experience in editing and pass a comprehensive exam administered by Editors Canada. The exam consists of two parts: Part A covers general editing principles, while Part B focuses on the specific skills required to edit different types of documents. The exam takes approximately four hours to complete.
The cost for taking the CPE exam is $400 CAD plus applicable taxes. This fee includes access to study materials and practice tests, as well as registration for the actual exam. Once an editor passes the exam, they will be awarded their CPE designation and will be eligible to use the CPE logo on their website or other marketing materials.
4. Certified Technical Writer (CTW)
A Certified Technical Writer (CTW) is a professional designation that recognizes individuals who have demonstrated knowledge and expertise in technical writing. The certification is awarded by the Society for Technical Communication (STC).
The CTW program has two levels: Certified Associate Technical Communicator (CATC) and Certified Professional Technical Communicator (CPTC). To become certified, applicants must pass an exam that tests their knowledge of technical communication principles, practices, and standards.
It typically takes six to nine months to prepare for the CTW exam. Applicants should plan to spend at least 10-15 hours per week studying topics such as document design, graphics, usability testing, and project management. They should also be familiar with the STC’s Code of Ethics and Professional Conduct.
To get started on the path to becoming a CTW, applicants must first join the STC as a member. Membership fees vary depending on factors such as profession and country of residence. After joining the STC, applicants can register for the CTW exam online or through their local chapter. The cost of taking the exam is $250 USD for members ($350 USD for non-members).
Once applicants have passed the exam, they will receive their official certification from the STC. This certification is valid for three years and can be renewed by taking additional exams or completing continuing education courses.
5. Professional Scrum Master (PSM)
Professional Scrum Master (PSM) is a certification program offered by Scrum.org, a global organization that provides training and certification for Scrum professionals. The PSM is designed to help people understand the principles and practices of Scrum, as well as how to apply them in their own organizations.
The PSM certification consists of two levels: PSM I and PSM II. Each level requires passing an online assessment that tests your knowledge of Scrum concepts, roles, events, artifacts, and rules. To become certified at either level you must pass the assessment with a score of 85% or higher.
The PSM I course takes about 8-10 hours to complete and the cost is $150 USD. The PSM II course takes approximately 16-20 hours to complete and the cost is $250 USD.
In order to get the Professional Scrum Master certification you must first register with Scrum.org and purchase one or both courses depending on which level you are looking to achieve. Once purchased, you will have access to the assessments and will be able to take them at your own pace. After successfully passing an assessment you will receive your certificate via email from Scrum.org confirming your achievement of Professional Scrum Master status at either level I or II.
6. Information Mapping Certified Professional (IMCP)
Information Mapping Certified Professional (IMCP) is a certification program offered by Information Mapping International, Inc. It is designed to recognize individuals who have demonstrated mastery of the Information Mapping methodology and its applications. The IMCP certification is recognized worldwide as a standard for excellence in information design and communication.
The IMCP certification process consists of two parts: an online assessment and a practical application assignment. The online assessment tests knowledge of the Information Mapping methodology, including the principles behind it and how to apply it to various communication tasks. The practical application assignment requires applicants to create an original document using the Information Mapping methodology.
It typically takes about three months to complete the IMCP certification process. During this time, applicants must complete both the online assessment and practical application assignment within 45 days of each other.
To get certified, applicants must first register on the Information Mapping website and pay a fee of $395 USD. After registration, they will receive instructions on how to access their online assessment and practical application assignment materials. Once they have completed both parts of the process, they will be notified via email if they have passed or failed their assessment or assignment. If successful, they will then receive their official IMCP certificate in the mail within four weeks of passing their assessment or assignment.
7. DITA Authoring Certification
DITA Authoring Certification is a program offered by the OASIS DITA Technical Committee to recognize individuals who have achieved competency in the use of the Darwin Information Typing Architecture (DITA) standard. The certification is designed to ensure that those who are certified have a comprehensive understanding of DITA and its associated tools and technologies.
The certification process consists of two parts: an online exam and a hands-on workshop. The online exam tests knowledge of DITA fundamentals, such as structure, elements, attributes, and best practices for authoring content using DITA. The hands-on workshop provides practical experience with DITA authoring tools and techniques.
The entire certification process typically takes about 10 hours to complete, depending on the individual's level of experience with DITA. To get certified, applicants must first register for the online exam through the OASIS website. After passing the exam, they must then register for a hands-on workshop through an approved training provider.
The cost of getting certified depends on whether you choose to take an in-person or virtual workshop. In-person workshops typically cost between $500-$800 USD while virtual workshops range from $250-$400 USD.
8. Adobe Certified Expert – Technical Communication Suite
Adobe Certified Expert – Technical Communication Suite is an industry-recognized certification program that validates your expertise in using Adobe’s Technical Communication Suite. This suite of tools includes Adobe FrameMaker, RoboHelp, Captivate, and Acrobat Pro. With this certification, you can demonstrate to employers and clients that you have the skills needed to create technical documentation and eLearning content with Adobe’s products.
The certification exam consists of multiple-choice questions that test your knowledge of the features and functions of the Technical Communication Suite. The exam takes approximately 90 minutes to complete and costs $180 USD. To become certified, you must pass the exam with a score of 80% or higher.
To get started, you will need to register for an Adobe ID and purchase an exam voucher from Pearson VUE. Once you have registered for the exam, you can access study materials such as practice exams and tutorials on the Adobe website. You can also join online forums where experienced users share tips and advice about using the software.
Once you are ready to take the exam, schedule an appointment at a Pearson VUE testing center near you. On the day of your exam, bring two forms of identification (one must be a government-issued photo ID) as well as your voucher code to gain entry into the testing center. After completing the exam, results will be available immediately upon completion.
The cost for becoming an Adobe Certified Expert – Technical Communication Suite is $180 USD for the exam fee plus any additional fees associated with registering for an Adobe ID or scheduling a Pearson VUE appointment at a testing center near you.
9. Microsoft Office Specialist – Word Expert
Microsoft Office Specialist – Word Expert is a certification that validates an individual’s expertise in Microsoft Word. It is designed to demonstrate proficiency in the use of Microsoft Word features, tools and functions. To become certified as a Microsoft Office Specialist – Word Expert, you must pass two exams: Exam 77-418: Microsoft Word 2013 and Exam 77-425: Microsoft Word 2016.
The exams are administered by Certiport, an official testing center for Microsoft Office Specialist certifications. The tests take approximately 90 minutes each to complete and cost $150 USD per exam. You can purchase vouchers to take the exams directly from Certiport or through a local testing center.
In order to prepare for the exams, it is recommended that you have at least six months of experience using Microsoft Word and have taken a course on the program or read books about it. Additionally, there are practice tests available online that can help you prepare for the real thing.
Once you have passed both exams, you will be awarded your certification as a Microsoft Office Specialist – Word Expert and will receive an official certificate from Certiport. This certification will give employers confidence in your ability to use this powerful program effectively and efficiently.
10. CompTIA Technical Communications+ Certification
CompTIA Technical Communications+ is a certification designed to validate an individual’s technical communication skills. It is intended for professionals who create, edit, and deliver technical content in a variety of formats. This includes writing, editing, and publishing documents such as user manuals, online help systems, web content, and other technical materials.
The certification requires passing two exams: CompTIA Technical Communications+ (TCO-001) and CompTIA Technical Communications+ Performance Based Exam (TCO-002). The TCO-001 exam covers topics such as project management, document design principles, information architecture and structure, digital media production techniques, and delivery methods. The TCO-002 exam assesses an individual’s ability to apply their knowledge of the topics covered in the TCO-001 exam by completing tasks related to creating a technical document.
It typically takes about 6 months to prepare for the exams depending on your prior experience with technical communications. To get certified you must register for the exams through CompTIA’s website or through an authorized testing center. The cost of the certification varies depending on where you take the exams but typically ranges from $200-$300 USD.
Do You Really Need a Senior Technical Writer Certificate?
No, a senior technical writer certificate is not necessary to become a successful technical writer. A certificate may be beneficial for some people who are looking to demonstrate their commitment to the profession or gain recognition from employers, but a certificate alone will not guarantee success in this field.
Technical writing requires strong writing and communication skills, an understanding of technology and software applications, and the ability to conduct research and analyze data. It also helps if you are familiar with different types of documentation standards, such as user manuals, white papers, and instructional guides. To develop these skills, many technical writers take courses in computer science, web design, programming languages, and other related topics. Additionally, they often complete on-the-job training or internships as part of their professional development.
In addition to formal training and education in the field of technical writing, having a portfolio that demonstrates your writing abilities is essential for success. Employers will want to see samples of your work that showcase your ability to create clear and concise documentation that meets industry standards. This can include anything from user manuals to white papers or even blog posts about technology topics. Having a portfolio is also important for freelancers who are looking for clients; it allows them to show potential customers what they are capable of creating.
Overall, having a senior technical writer certificate may be beneficial for some people who want to demonstrate their commitment to the profession or gain recognition from employers. However, it is important to remember that a certificate alone does not guarantee success in this field; rather than relying solely on credentials when applying for jobs or contracts as a technical writer, it is best to focus on developing strong writing and communication skills along with an understanding of technology and software applications so you can make yourself stand out among other applicants.
Related: Senior Technical Writer Resume Examples
FAQs About Senior Technical Writer Certifications
1. What type of certifications are available for Senior Technical Writers?
Answer: Professional certifications for Senior Technical Writers vary by organization, but some of the most common include Certified Technical Communicator (CTC), Certified Professional Technical Communicator (CPTC), and Certified Senior Technical Writer (CSTW).
2. What qualifications are required to become a certified Senior Technical Writer?
Answer: To become a certified Senior Technical Writer, you must have at least three years of experience in technical writing or a related field, as well as a bachelor’s degree in English or communications. You may also need to pass an exam or complete a portfolio review.
3. How much does it cost to become a certified Senior Technical Writer?
Answer: The costs associated with becoming a certified Senior Technical Writer vary depending on the certification program you choose and the fees associated with it. Generally, these fees range from several hundred to several thousand dollars.
4. How long do certifications last for Senior Technical Writers?
Answer: Certifications typically last for two to four years and require renewal after that period is up. Some organizations may also require recertification exams every few years in order to maintain certification status.
5. Is there any benefit to becoming a certified Senior Technical Writer?
Answer: Yes! Becoming certified as a Senior Technical Writer can help you stand out among your peers, demonstrate your expertise and commitment to the profession, increase your salary potential, and give you access to additional opportunities within the field.