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What Is Human Resource Certification, and Do I Need It?
Human Resources is about a lot more than hiring and firing. In the modern business world, HR professionals manage complex benefits packages, assure compliance with labor regulations, develop and manage employee training programs, work to prevent workplace harassment, and help their organizations develop strategies to grow and maintain a strong, productive workforce.
Advancing in your human resources career will depend on mastering one or more of the many HR responsibilities. But is experience enough? Or are there other ways to take your HR career further? The answer is: More than experience matters. A human resources degree and certain certifications can help your career, too.
The Benefits of a Human Resource Degree
A human resource management degree—such as an MS in Human Resource Management—is the perfect degree for a career-minded professional who wants to gain advanced skills to play a major role in guiding organizations. From recruiting and compensation to conflict resolution and organizational strategy, it’s a degree that prepares human resource managers to be key partners in the growth of their company.
Walden University’s MS in Human Resource Management program is acknowledged by the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) as being fully aligned with the SHRM’s HR Curriculum Guidebook and Templates, which is the gold standard around which degree programs are built. In fact, the program offers two capstone options, one of which is for professionals who are pursuing SHRM certification. As part of the capstone, students work on mastering all SHRM competencies and even take a sample exam that reflects the SHRM certification exams.
What Is Human Resources Certification?
HR certification is, at its core, a recognition of your professional experience, skills, and knowledge. To earn any of the multiple HR certifications, you must have experience working in HR and pass a test to demonstrate your knowledge of HR topics and tasks. To keep your certification, you have to keep up with your professional development. Certification is a great complement to any HR degree program, and many HR professionals go on to earn certifications after completing their university degree program.
What Types of HR Certification Can You Get?
Both the HR Certification Institute (HRCI) and SHRM offer professional certifications. Certifications from both groups are well-respected, although HRCI certifications have been around longer. In general, HRCI certifications test more practical and tactical knowledge while SHRM certifications test more of your ability to think critically and solve problems. As such, an SHRM certification may be better if you want an HR career focused on strategic development and/or risk management. However, there’s no wrong choice. Popular HRCI certifications include:
- Associate Professional in Human Resources™ (aPHR™): designed for those entering human resources. Requires a high school degree and passing an exam. Doesn’t require previous HR experience.
- Professional in Human Resources® (PHR®): designed for experienced HR professionals looking to take their career further. Requires 1+ years of HR experience if you hold a master’s degree or higher, 2+ years of HR experience if you hold a bachelor’s degree, or 4+ years of HR experience if you hold a high school degree. Also includes passing an exam.
- Senior Professional in Human Resources® (SPHR®): Designed for advanced HR professionals who work in HR planning rather than HR implementation. Requires 4+ years of HR experience if you hold a master’s degree or higher, 5+ years of HR experience if you hold a bachelor’s degree, or 7+ years of HR experience if you hold a high school degree. Also includes passing an exam.
- Global Professional in Human Resources® (GPHR®): Designed for HR professionals working in an international business environment. Requires 2+ years of global HR experience if you hold a master’s degree or higher, 3+ years of HR experience (with 2+ years of global experience) if you hold a bachelor’s degree, or 4+ years of HR experience (with 2+ years of global experience) if you hold a high school degree. Also includes passing an exam.
There are also HRCI certifications for HR professionals outside the U.S. and for those working in California.
SHRM certifications include:
- SHRM Certified Professional (SHRM-CP): designed for those in the early stages of their career. Requires you to be currently in an HR role if you hold a graduate degree in HR, have 1+ years of HR experience if you hold a bachelor’s degree in HR, or have 4+ years of HR experience if you have less than a bachelor’s degree. Also includes passing an exam.
- SHRM Senior Certified Professional (SHRM-SCP): designed for those in or moving into senior roles in human resource management. Requires 3+ years of HR experience if you hold a graduate degree in HR, 4+ years of HR experience if you hold a bachelor’s degree in HR, or 7+years of HR experience if you have less than a bachelor’s degree. Also includes passing an exam.
How Else Can You Advance Your HR Career?
In addition to certification, you can improve your career potential by earning an advanced human resources degree. In particular, an MS in Human Resource Management can help you gain the upper-level skills you need to take your career further. Plus, holding an HR degree makes certification easier, as you won’t need as much on-the-job experience before you can certify.
The good news is that, thanks to the advantages of online learning, you don’t have to take a leave from your career in order to advance. That’s because when you earn a master’s in human resource management online, you can complete your coursework from home or from anywhere else you have internet access. On top of that, online universities offer flexible scheduling. Instead of dropping everything to attend classes at specific times, you can choose when in the day you attend class. That makes it possible to work full time while earning your degree. Walden University’s MS in Human Resource Management also offers two tracks based on whether or not you currently have a recognized human resource professional certification.
Both certification and a master’s in human resource management can give your career a boost. With online education, getting that boost is more convenient than ever before.
Walden University is an accredited institution offering an MS in Human Resource Management degree program online. Expand your career options and earn your degree using a convenient, flexible learning platform that fits your busy life.
Walden University is accredited by The Higher Learning Commission, www.hlcommission.org.
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