On professional qualifications

Tom speaks on the nature of professional qualifications, development, and organisations

Almost none of my two year part time degree was directly useful to my current job except for two courses: Cataloguing & Classification and Advanced Cataloguing (and I can’t see how anyone could be set loose on a real catalogue unless they had done the second course too). I could quite easily have gone on a couple of short courses and not been much worse off. I’m sure many other aspects of the profession would be the same. The course did include management, which is unavoidable in this day and age, but management is hardly peculiar to librarianship.

This criticism is not solely levelled at CILIP, the association of librarians: practically everyone I know working in a professional sphere falls into either Tom’s camp (professional development is a waste of time that teaches you how to play the system and get qualifications, not how to actually be better at your job) or the “manager” camp, where qualifications are a perfectly good substitute for competence. Fill in your favourite Dilbert cartoon here. I have nothing but contempt for professional qualifications in computing, and the reason I’m (slowly) doing an MSc is not because I think it will teach me anything useful but specifically and declaredly because it is more likely to convince manager muppets that I know what I actually do know. If I can be competent and have qualifications then clearly I can convince both camps.

I also had the pleasure of working with another qualified librarian whose general competency to turn up to work was far from guaranteed, let alone his mastery of the specialised skills of the information professional.

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