Whether you are an accountant, medical practitioner, lawyer, electrician, or other professional, top tier performers throughout all industries have always sought effective and trustworthy credentials to set them apart from their peers and competition.
Such credentials and certifications are also valuable tools for employers and consumers to identify with whom they choose to do business. HR professionals are no different, and consumers of outsourced business services need to know what certifications to look for when identifying a company with whom they will share their most valuable assets: their people!
The Human Resource Certification Institute (HRCI) has for 40 years been the premier credentialing organization for the HR profession. As an independent nonprofit organization, HRCI has dedicated itself to advancing the HR profession by developing and administering accredited certifications. Due to the complexity of global markets and the legal and regulatory obstacles faced by all businesses, it’s vital that companies identify candidates with the specific knowledge and expertise that will add value to their organization.
In order to address such challenges, the HRCI offers seven accredited certifications designed to match the specific skills and knowledge necessary to be a thought and change leader in different stages of a Human Resources (HR) career. Obtaining and retaining such certifications is not easy, and serve as a symbol of a professional’s dedication, credibility and mastery of HR principles and standards.
Earning an HRCI certification will set an HR professional apart from his or her peers by validating their expertise through a competency based, professionally relevant set of standards as set by the National Commission for Certifying Agencies (NCCA). Let’s take a closer look at the three most commonly sought after HRCI certifications and what it takes to be eligible to sit for each exam:
What is PHR Certification?
Senior Professional in Human Resources (SPHR) – The primary certification to solidify credibility as a Senior HR leader. Requirements:
- Have at least four years of experience in a professional-level HR position + a Master’s degree or higher,
- Have at least five years of experience in a professional-level HR position + a Bachelor’s degree, OR
- Have at least seven years of experience in a professional-level HR position + a high school diploma.
Professional in Human Resources (PHR) – The primary certification for professionals who are established in their HR career. Requirements:
- Have at least one year of experience in a professional-level HR position + a Master’s degree or higher,
- Have at least two years of experience in a professional-level HR position + a Bachelor’s degree, OR
- Have at least four years of experience in a professional-level HR position + a high school diploma.
Associate Professional in Human Resources (aPHR) – This certification is designed for professionals who are beginning their HR careers. Requirement:
- Have a high school diploma or global equivalent
As seen above, a professional must prove specific work experience, competency and education within the Human Resources field in order to earn a HRCI accredited certification. Furthermore, in order to maintain such status, recertification is required every three years. Recertification can only be obtained through one of two methods; the preferred method of recertification is by demonstrating ongoing professional development by completing 60 credit hours within the three-year certification period. If a certification holder fails to complete the required continuing education credit hours within this timeframe, their only option to retain their certification would be to retake the certification exam.
What does certification mean to a PEO client?
It’s easy for businesses to find HR managed services providers, but hard to understand how they are different and what to require when selecting a lasting partner. Consider how you make decisions in other areas of your life. If you’re remodeling a kitchen, would you require a licensed general contractor? When seeking out an accountant to help with your taxes and investments, do you ask about credentials and experience or do you trust the first provider that appears in an online search?
Identifying a business partner who will impact the daily lives of your workforce should be no different, and likely require more scrutiny than decisions that impact only you personally. At Staff One HR, we require all HR Managers obtain and retain either a PHR or SPHR certification, allowing our clients and business partners to rest assured knowing that a dedication to continuous learning supports a passion for knowledge and service.
In recent years another HR certification has gained prominence, joining HRCI as a trusted accreditation for HR professionals and employers. The Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) offers a number of relevant professional certifications, including the SHRM-CP (Certified Professional) and SHRM-SCP (Senior Certified Professional). While both the HRCI and SHRM certifications represent a level of expertise within the Human Resources career lifecycle, each require HR professionals to display a specific skill set and knowledge base to earn the accreditation.
Image: Le Moal Olivier