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Certification in one of the areas of competence identified by the Society of Human Resource Management (SHRM) provides benefits for the human resources (HR) professionals who’ve earned it, as well as for their employers. To earn one of the certifications, an HR professional must have hands-on experience working in HR and demonstrate a mastery of many different topics within the field; continuing education provisions require that that mastery be kept up-to-date. Earning and maintaining SHRM certification, then, helps an HR professional stay “on top of his game,” which can often result in job advancement, meaningful responsibilities and good compensation.
Human resource management is a field, like some others, that isn’t offered as a separate degree program by most colleges or universities. This makes it difficult for a potential employer to evaluate a job candidate’s qualifications. The existence of credible certification programs from professional organizations like SHRM can be a tremendous benefit to employers.
Three certifications are offered to all HR professionals: the Professional in Human Resources (PHR®), the Senior Professional in Human Resources (SPHR®), and the Global Professional in Human Resources (GPHR®). A fourth certification applies only to HR professionals in the US state of California who have already earned the PHR® or SPHR® certification and is designated either CA-PHR® or CA-SPHR®, as appropriate. The California certification reflects a mastery of California's sometimes complex regulations regarding workers compensation and safety and health requirements.
SHRM certification is awarded to HR professionals upon successful completion of a comprehensive exam, usually hundreds of questions over many hours. Eligibility to take the exam is based on a combination of academic achievement and hands-on experience. In addition, most candidates take special classes to prepare for the exams, which cover legal issues as well as such topics as workforce planning and employment, compensation, risk management and strategic planning, among others.
The requirement for continuing re-certification is another benefit of SHRM certification. Not only must candidates display a mastery of HR issues to earn their initial certification, but they must demonstrate continued proficiency to keep it. This requirement that they keep up-to-date on developing trends and issues in the field benefits not only themselves but also their employers.
HR professionals rely on SHRM certification to evaluate and validate their merit in their chosen field, and then to keep abreast of current trends and issues. That level of continued mastery almost guarantees them significant jobs with meaningful responsibilities and good compensation. Enlightened employers, for their part, want to recruit HR professionals with proven capabilities and competence in the field, and rely on SHRM certification to attest to it.
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