Whether you’re just starting out in the human resources field after completing your degree or you’ve been in the industry for a number of years, your thoughts may turn to HR certification as a means to keep your skills relevant and advance your career. There are a variety of HR certifications available now, however, so obtaining a certification may not be as straightforward as it once was.

If you’re considering getting an HR certification, the following factors may help you decide whether it’s right for you and which certification you should look into.

Will Certification Help You Get a Job?

Having an HR certification will often help you to get a job in the field, no matter what industry or position you choose to pursue. Even if HR certification isn’t listed as a requirement, having a certification may give you a leg up on other applicants and show the employer that you are dedicated. Invariably, having an HR certification looks better on your resume.

Certifications and Job Advancements

HR certifications can help with job advancements and pay raises in much the same way they help new applicants to get a job: they improve the employer’s perception of you. However, certifications can also help you to keep your knowledge and skills fresh and give you a boost of confidence in your competency. These factors are all conducive to promotions and raises and may be the final point in scoring a promotion over another candidate.

What Are the Different Types of Certifications?

There are two main organizations that offer HR certifications: the HR Certification Institute (HRCI) and the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM.) The two companies split up in May 2014, which is when SHRM started offering the SHRM Certified Professional for new entrants into the field and the SHRM Senior Certified Professional for those with six or more years of experience.

HRCI has been offering certifications longer and is the more recognized of the two. HRCI now offers seven certifications, including the old standard certifications: Professional in Human Resources (PHR) and the Senior Professional in Human Resources (SPHR.) To pursue a PHR you must have at least two years experience and a Bachelor’s degree, for a SPHR you’ll need a master’s degree and four years of experience.

Other certifications offered by HRCI include:

  • Associate Professional in Human Resources (aPHR) for those that are just starting out in HR and don’t yet have a degree
  • Global Professional in Human Resources (GPHR) for those that have a combination of education and experience in HR at a global level
  • Professional in Human Resources International (PHRi) for professionals working for international practitioners that have both education and experience in global HR
  • Senior Professional in Human Resources International (SPHRi), formerly known as the Human Resources Management Professional or HRMP, for internationally based HR leaders with many years of experience and education
  • Professional in Human Resources California (PHRca) for professionals operating in California or who are responsible for HR management in California

How Do You Get an HR Certification?

To obtain the certifications listed, you must pay exam fees and sometimes application fees.  After the application has been accepted, eligibility requirements have been verified, and fees have been paid, you can schedule a time to take your exam at a prometric testing center. Beware, however, that many do not pass their exams on their first try.

Whether to get an HR certification is a personal choice that can have varying benefits depending on your level of experience and the company that you choose to work for. Acquiring new skills and staying up to date on new HR topics and technology can be advantageous, but will require a commitment of time and money.

Related Post: Is HR Certification (PHR/SPHR) Worth It?

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