An HR Bartender reader has asked this question:
As an HR professional, I have the opportunity for a promotion to HR Manager. In your opinion, would going for a Master’s degree or getting PHR certified be more beneficial for my career?
This is a dilemma I hear about often. For anyone thinking about going back to college, please check out my interview with Deirdre Honner from Calvin College about comparing online and classroom education. Lots of great insights from an HR pro in the academic world.
So to answer this question, I thought it would be great to talk about certification. And there’s no better person to share information about the value of certification than Mary Power, CAE, CMP, executive director of the HR Certification Institute.
When I was the state council director for Florida and the membership advisory council member for the Southeast, I had the opportunity to work closely with Mary and the HR Certification Institute board. I think one of the biggest misconceptions people have about them is what they’re responsible for. The HR Certification Institute is the certifying body that develops and administers certification exams that validate an HR professional’s skill set, knowledge and experience.
So now that everyone knows what you do, Mary, can you tell us about the three exams that the HR Certification Institute offers?
Each of our certifications focuses on core areas of the HR profession knowledge base. The knowledge base for each of our certifications are defined by key HR professionals who help us determine what an HR professional should know to succeed in their role. This is the foundation that our exams are created from. Earning one of our certifications proves one’s mastery within the profession.
The Professional in Human Resources (PHR®) and the Senior Professional in Human Resources (SPHR®) both focus on six core areas. Strategic business management is a core area for both certifications. The SPHR exam focuses more heavily on strategic business management, aligning more with the HR professional who is in a role that is more centered around the ‘big picture’ and contributing more to the development and accomplishment of their organization-wide business plan and objectives. The PHR is geared toward a professional who has mastered the skills needed to perform exceptionally in HR, but their role is more geared towards the technical and operational aspect of human resources.
The Global Professional in Human Resources (GPHR®) certification is for the HR professional who is engaged in cross-border global operations. The core area of this certification also includes strategic business management with a niche focus on global HR work areas such as global talent acquisition and mobility, and global compensation and benefits.
In looking at our reader question, would you consider certification and graduate degrees similar? Or are we comparing apples and oranges? And why?
Yes, we see it as comparing apples and oranges. A graduate degree does emphasize a professional’s know-how and their drive to be successful and committed to their profession. However, our certifications take it one step further by validating additional characteristics. Earning our letters sends a message that one not only has the knowledge needed to be a successful HR professional, but that he/she has taken what they have learned in the classroom and implemented it in the business world. Our certifications are also a statement that one’s knowledge and experience is up to date. The one constant in HR is that it is always changing. Our recertification requirements force our certified HR professionals to stay current and be informed on the changes taking place in the profession.
What are some of the common reasons that people decide to seek certification?
HR professionals choose certification to ensure that they are being noticed. They are looking for a reference that will advocate and confirm that they are a high performing professional. Our HR certifications are that reference which ensures that an HR professional’s organization, peers and counterparts see them as credible. They also are looking to add additional value to their portfolio to help them with career growth.
If I’m hiring an HR pro, why would I want to look for someone with certification? What does being certified represent or demonstrate?
Earning a certification shows that one is an experienced professional who is capable and committed to the profession and his or her career. Keeping and maintaining our certification demonstrates one’s continued dedication and that their knowledge and experience is relevant, showing an organization that experience and knowledge not only meets or exceeds standards but also is current and applies to the profession today.
Why is obtaining certification valuable?
Obtaining certification is valuable to the professional because it is a great complement to career achievement and professional growth. It provides a sense of achievement as well as professional success.
Our certifications are valuable to the profession itself in that it sets the bar higher. Those who hold certification from the HR Certification Institute will always strive to be better professionals and to be in a position that serves themselves, company and the profession at a higher level.
Obtaining certification is also valuable to the organizations where our certified HR professionals work. Certified HR professionals bring a level of credibility, security and influence to an organization which impacts and protects the company’s most valuable asset, its employees.
Where can I go to find out more information about certification?
You can visit the HR Certification Institute website at www.hrci.org or call us at (866-898-4724). And we’re active on social media! We send out certification updates and developments on Twitter at HRCertInstitute and our GPHR-certified researcher Rubens Pessanha shares HR articles and videos at HRCertain.
You can also like us on Facebook and at the Cert Wear Fan Page for videos and photographs of latest HR events and shop for the latest certification fashion. And Certification Matters is our main LinkedIn group.
Thank you so much to Mary for taking the time to answer questions. I’ve been certified for over 15 years and found the certification to be valuable in my professional development and important to my employer.