Benefits and Compensation

HRCI Responds to Reader Questions, Announces Two New Certifications

HR Daily Advisor: You have two new certifications—HRBP (HR Business Professional) and HRMP (HR Management Professional). I understand these are mostly for foreign HR people—can you give me some details?

HRCI: The HRBP and HRMP are for HR professionals who work outside of the United States and have mastered their country’s HR practices and regulations. Holding either the HRBP or HRMP is a way for these HR professionals to prove and showcase their skills in both the strategic and technical aspects of their chosen field.

The HRBP and HRMP focus on globally relevant HR concepts that are common across geographic locations and were developed to validate core human resource knowledge and skills.

The HRBP validates professional-level core HR knowledge and skills and demonstrates mastery of generally accepted technical and operational HR principles.


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The HRMP is designed to validate management-level core human resource knowledge and skills and demonstrates mastery of generally accepted HR principles in strategy and policy development as well as service delivery.

HR Daily Advisor: How have these been received?  

HRCI: Both the HRBP and the HRMP have been met with enthusiasm by HR professionals across the globe. In our pilot test, more than 1,000 professionals in 49 countries participated with 573 of them earning the first of these credentials ever awarded. We continue to see interest from HR professionals who want to validate their expertise in core human resource knowledge and skills.

HR Daily Advisor: How many certified HR people are there at this time?

HRCI: More than 120,000 HR professionals in 100 countries hold one of the HR Certification Institute’s credentials as a mark of high professional distinction.

HR Daily Advisor: Will being certified aid HR professionals with obtaining a job?

HRCI: A study commissioned by the HR Certification Institute found that there has been a growing appreciation of the benefits of credentials among both HR professionals and employers and that certified HR professionals impact the profitability of an organization. Through responses from 1,592 HR professionals, the Institute assessed HR leaders’ and employees’ awareness, understanding, valuation and perceptions of HR and non-HR professional certifications and credentials.  The study showed that an increasing number of certified HR professionals consider professional certification as fundamental because they face complex challenges in everything from talent management and payroll and employee benefits and credentials reflect a mastery of the fundamental HR body of knowledge.

HR Daily Advisor: Will being certified allow HR professionals to get ahead and perform better on the job?

HRCI: In the same survey, the Institute found that employers look for and appreciate HR certification because they realize that it reflects that HR professional’s commitment to the field. In fact, 97 percent of the respondents believe that it is important for people in HR to be professionally certified. From the employer’s perspective, having employees gain professional HR certification brings numerous advantages to the organization, including increased employee engagement and a positive impact on the profitability of their organization. Employers surveyed said that an HR certified candidate applying for a job would have an advantage over a non-HR certified candidate, and 69 percent of the employers stated that an HR certified person who was being considered as an independent consultant for an HR department would have a “very significant” advantage over a non-certified individual.

HR Daily Advisor: Will being certified bring prestige?

HRCI: Certified HR professionals find that their credentials—from PHR to the HRMP and California certifications—set them apart from others. In a recent article in Certified magazine, Hosetta Coleman, SPHR, senior vice president and director of HR for the Fifth Third Bank of Tampa Bay, shared:

“In my opinion, certified professionals are very proud of their chosen career paths and, in many cases, are able to operate in situations without clear directions because of their expanded depth of knowledge.”  She said that when she works with certified professionals from other organizations, she immediately connects with that person on a professional level. “Certification provides an immediate connection between me and others who hold it. Also, in many instances, I find that other certified professionals are knowledgeable outside of their specific industry.”

HR Daily Advisor: From the employers’ standpoint, do you have any data or anecdotal evidence on whether being certified is a good criterion for choosing new HR employees? Do you know how many employers require an HRCI certification?

HRCI: Several studies have shown that holding certification helps an HR professional get a job and move up the ladder at their organization more quickly. For example: According to a 2012 PayScale study, the market pays more for HR professionals who hold certifications. “The data show that HR professionals with the PHR and SPHR designations move up the career ladder faster and make more money than those who lack either credentials.”

Also, new (2012) scholarly research came out on certification being required or preferred—see http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/hrm.21496/abstract). Here is what the above study said: ”….the current study found that 15.6 percent of job announcements required or preferred PHR/SPHR certification, which is nearly 11 times the rate found in the Aguinis et al. (2005) study.”

HR Daily Advisor: We have heard complaints that the exam’s pass ratio is too low. I think the percent passing was reported in the 60s in some cases.

HRCI: As with any professional certification, such as the CPA or a Bar exam, it is critical for exams to be challenging enough that holding the credentials prove the holder is the “best of the best.” When you compare our pass rate to other certification exams, such as the CPA, we actually have higher pass rates. We feel that is necessary to create rigorous and challenging exams that reflect the rigorous and challenging environments in which today’s HR professionals practice their craft.

HR Daily Advisor: What is the relationship between HRCI and SHRM? Some readers—falsely I believe—think the two organizations are linked and that buying SHRM preparation materials makes it more likely for someone to pass. Could you address this?

HRCI: While both the HR Certification Institute and SHRM support the HR profession, the Institute is an independent organization. We do not endorse any preparation materials, and, in fact, offer free assessment and practice quizzes on our website:   http://www.hrci.org/ExamPrep/

HR Daily Advisor: Do you have any statistics or anecdotal evidence about what preparation methods work best? For example some chapters form study groups?

HRCI: The HR Certification Institute highly recommends study and preparation for our exams, but we do not recommend or endorse any particular method. We just hope that the HR professional who is considering applying to sit for one of our exams will take the time to assess how he or she personally prepares best and to create and follow a preparation course that will be successful.

HR Daily Advisor: One of our readers raised the question about certification applicants getting HRCI credit for “degree mill” diplomas, that is, degrees for which they hadn’t had to do any work—just pay a fee on the internet. Any comment?

HRCI: The HR Certification Institute has rigorous application and recertification through continuing education processes and is accredited by the National Commission for Certifying Agencies (NCCA) for our PHR, SPHR and GPHR credentials. NCCA accreditation makes the HR profession and the public aware of the standards and requirements that we meet and also shows that, like our certified professionals, we are committed to high standards.

Our rigor in exam creation and recertification approval includes random audits of candidate applications for as long as six months after an individual receives notification of successful recertification. When an application is chosen for audit, the candidate will be asked to submit supporting documentation for all activities listed on the submitted application. Even if an application has been approved, we may—during the audit process—request clarification for submitted activities.  If in reviewing additional information it is decided that these activities should not have been awarded credit, the applicant will need to provide additional activities that took place during the certification cycle to maintain the designation.

HR Daily Advisor: You have a California certification; any plans for other states?

HRCI: The California Certification was developed because that state has so many state-specific regulations and HR-related legislation and HR professionals who practice in that state have to be experts not only in general HR policies and practices but also in California policies and practices. We would consider creating another state-specific credential if we found that there was another state that required such expert knowledge of its HR regulations, policies and legislation.