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HR Certifications: Do They Make a Difference?

A recent article in TLNT posed a question that has been debated in HR circles for many years. That is, do professional HR certifications really help job seekers. According to the article, there is no clear consensus among HR professionals. Some suggest that certifications may help you in early career to provide that leverage for serious consideration. Others believe that accomplishments and work experience in the profession trump, especially for those seeking leadership positions.

During my 30-year career in higher education HR, I was fortunate to have the support of upper management early in my career in my quest to obtain the Certified Compensation Professional designation through what is now WorldatWork. Soon thereafter, my interest in pursuing an MBA was equally encouraged. I believe that the certification readily established credibility early on, and the graduate degree engendered the respect of my peers, as well as those outside of HR.

As higher education professionals, I believe it is incumbent upon us to engage in further education. After all, that is what we are all about. Additionally, our customer base, especially leadership and faculty, expect the highest standards of professionalism and expertise.

Share your own experience and opinion.

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  • Dblake

    Patti, I couldn’t agree more. We have a professional obligation to continue our development. I would argue that the need is not only for ourselves but for our staff as well. We can’t expect our employees to build their skills when we allow ours to go outdated. We are never too old or too smart to learn. I am a strong proponent of certification as it demonstrates your desire and commitment to the profession.

  • Judy Walter SPHR

    When I first started in HR nearly 20 years ago, I was encouraged by the company’s labor attorney to get some type of certification. Two years later I was certified as a PHR. In 2003 I got my SPHR certification, and have maintained my certification over the past 9 years through CPE credits. It’s important in human resources to stay on top of changes in our field. Having certification in one’s area of specialization within hr demonstrates this.

    I like the fact that this, and other certifications through SHRM/HCI, are a combination of work experience and exam passing. A fresh college or masters graduate may be up to date on the theories, but one learns human resources like any other profession by doing it. The percentage rates for passing on the PHR/SPHR certification exams are in the upper fifties/low sixties, and require a “high fluency” in subject matter in order to pass them.

    I know that being certified has made a difference in how I am regarded by others, both within HR and outside of it. I believe that I would not have gotten my first senior management job in a union environment without my SPHR as I had no union experience, but the hiring manager knew that labor relations was an important part of the SPHR exam.

    I don’t feel that all hr professionals must have some type of certification, but I encourage others to seek it out through SHRM, World at Work, CEBS, etc. as an organized means to stay abreast in a rapidly changing and growing industry.

  • RMoe, PHR

    Hello from Alaska Pacific University > during my own research on ERISA regulations, I saw a reference to CUPA-HR and as a HR professional, Googled the association. Looking forward to maintaining open dialogue w/ CUPA-HR; I also have been fortunate to have been given the inititative to seek my PHR credentials; and it certainly provides that commitment to continued expertise in HR knowledge and services to our organization. Kind regards, Roxanna Moe, PHR HR Coordinator for APU.

  • Riziki K. Khamis

    HR certifications are important in keeping an individual update and more competent. Work experience in Human Resources will assist one to be well versed in managing HR functions. Yet HR practitioner must have a learning culture because labour legislations are changing everyday and even global companies needs global labour force so HR practices must be congruent to this new shift so that to be able to manage labour force wherever companies expand. Yet within the organization you are working it is necessary to conduct organization capacity assessment from time to time so as to ascertain effectiveness of company operations and equipping yourself with ability not only to assist running organization but also to be able to make organization work efficiently.