Many human resource professionals ask the same questions regarding certifications. Which one should I get? Do employers recognized one over the other? There are many options available to all levels of HR professionals. The two main certifying bodies are HRCI (Human Resource Certification Institute) and SHRM (Society for Human Resource Management). Competing interests with similar certification levels.
HRCI offers many certifications:
- aPHR, aPHRi (in the testing phase)
- PHR, PHRi
- SPHR, PHRi
So what’s the difference?
SHRM prides itself on the certifications being competency based. According to their website, “The profession is no longer just about what you know—facts and figures—but rather how you effectively implement that knowledge in the workplace each and every day. SHRM certification provides you the opportunity to prove not only what you know but also how you can apply that knowledge on the job.” Many employers, especially small businesses where the HR department is 1-3 people, require the employee to wear many hats. A competency-based certification shows them you have the knowledge to perform your job and understand various real-life situations.
HRCI prides itself on the 40 plus years of providing HR certifications for excellence and expertise. HRCI’s website states, “An HRCI certification distinguishes you as a expert in the HR field, with proven levels of skills and knowledge, and the competence necessary to mitigate risks and drive business results.”
The age-old question still remains: Which one should I get?
Well, unfortunately, there is no ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ answer to this. It depends on you and the career you want.
As someone just starting in the HR profession, HRCI is the only one that offers an entry-level certification, aPHR & aPHRi.
Once you have a couple years’ experience, well that’s where it’s up to you. Both certifications offer a level of commitment to the profession. My best advice is to research the company and position you want and look at what they are asking for. Hint: it is NEVER a bad idea to have both types of certifications.
Shelly Wallace Johnson, aPHR