Human resources professionals aren’t required to earn HR certifications, but in many cases, getting certified is a valuable investment in your long-term career. How do you determine whether an HR certification is the right choice for you?
Should I get an HR Certification?
To get started in your HR career, an undergraduate or master’s degree in human resources is usually all the credentials you’ll need. And, since HR certifications are typically geared towards HR generalists, professionals who work into specialized HR positions may never benefit from seeking certification.
Becoming certified doesn’t necessarily make you a better HR professional or leader, but it does provide you with additional knowledge, resources, and skills relevant to your specific role. It also signals to your leaders that you’re taking the initiative to supplement your education. Perhaps that’s why HR professionals with certifications receive more promotions and achieve career success more quickly than their non-certified peers.
Your long-term career goals may help you decide whether or not to seek certification. Many middle- to upper-level HR job listings mention certification as a desired trait. They are rarely a strict requirement, but just as with an advanced degree, they provide a competitive advantage and distinguish candidates as an expert in their field. And, if you’re trying to move your way up the ladder of your current organization, being certified increases your chances of promotion by 29 percent.
Being HR certified may also allow you to negotiate a higher salary – a substantially higher salary. In 2008, HR professionals who had obtained a certification were paid, on average, 17% higher than those without; in 2018, Payscale reported that that figure was an incredible 31.6%. In many cases, the salary increase potential alone is well worth the time and effort involved in earning an HR certification.
How do I get certified in HR?
There are different types of certifications you can pursue. The HR Certification Institute (HRCI) offers a variety of experience-based certifications, beginning with those designed for recent high school or college graduates. Many professionals seek either the Professional in Human Resources (PHR) or Senior Professional in Human Resources (SPHR) certifications.
The Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) also offers two competency-based certifications. Professionals in their early- and mid-career pursue the SHRM Certified Professional (SHRM-CP), while senior-level practitioners typically earn the SHRM Senior Certified Professional (SHRM-SCP). Other professional associations offer certifications in areas such as compensation and benefits management, talent development, and learning and performance.
Can I get my HR certification online?
Obtaining your HR certification requires passing a complicated exam. Registering for and preparing for the exam is a multi-step process.
First, you must determine which exam you’d like to take and apply. There is usually an option to purchase study materials. Once you submit your application and payment, you will be able to schedule your exam and begin preparations. Once you successfully pass the exam, you are certified!
There are plenty of online resources that can adequately prepare you for the exam, but in most cases you will need to take the exam in-person at one of hundreds of testing locations around the country.
What about recertification?
Once you’ve passed your exam, congratulations! You are officially a certified HR professional. However, this isn’t a “one-and-done” certificate. Remaining certified is a career-long commitment to continuously learning about the most current human resources competencies and best practices.
While every certification is slightly different, credential holders must earn a certain number of professional development credits each year to remain certified. (Another option is to retake the exam.) Certification is a long-term investment in your professional development.
Fortunately, earning credits is usually simple and enjoyable. Many organizations offer the opportunity to earn recertification credits through thought leadership webcasts, events, or online academies.
In fact, our upcoming live webcast on “The Evolution of Payroll” is approved for 1 SHRM, 1 HRCA, and 1 HRPA credit. Join us on September 10th to learn how emerging technologies will impact the future of payroll—and earn credits simultaneously!