How Do I Become HR Certified?

As an HR professional with a college degree and on-the-job experience, you may be interested in taking your career to the next level by obtaining certification through a professional or trade organization. Keep reading to learn about HR certification and certification program options. Schools offering Human Resource Management degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

How Can HR Certification Program Improve My Career?

Most HR professionals possess a bachelor's degree in a relevant field, and some also complete graduate programs. The U.S Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) indicates that earning certification from a professional or trade organization can improve your chances for advancement in HR ( The BLS also projected that the field of HR would grow as fast as the national average, with 5% expansion between 2014 and 2024. Demand may be greater for those who specialize or would otherwise be adept to handle the changing legislation that's expected to contribute to this job growth.

Job Outlook5% increase from 2014-2024
Choosing the Right ProgramSeek options that match your experience, specialization, and education, while finding an organization with room to grow
Certification ConcentrationsWorkers' performance, benefits packages or organizational management
Certification OrganizationsInternational Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans, American Society for Training and Development, Society of Human Resources Management

Source: United States Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS)

Are All HR Certification Programs Similar?

Because professional organizations are privately, independently operated, they each set their own guidelines when it comes to eligibility, curriculum and recertification. When choosing the course of action that's right for you, seek options that match your experience, specialization and education. You may also want to get started with an organization that offers room to grow in terms of advanced credentials and membership benefits.

What Certification Programs Are Available?

There are many certification programs available to HR professionals. When researching potential options, be sure that the issuing organizations are credible within the industry and affiliate with reputable educational and professional establishments. If you specialize in a certain field, you may wish to seek titles crediting those specific, advanced skills. For example, you might wish to concentrate in workers' performance, benefits packages or organizational management.

The International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans offers the Certified Employee Benefit Specialist (CEBS) credential. The program is available for professionals in both the U.S. and Canada; it pairs specialty certification with university courses. If you are looking to become certified in the area of group benefits, retirement or compensation, the CEBS may be for you. Certified professionals can become members of the International Society of Certified Employee Benefit Specialists.

The American Society for Training and Development boasts more than 30 education programs for HR professionals. You must pass an entrance exam and meeting experiential eligibility requirements to qualify; programs last 2-4 days. The Human Performance Improvement (HPI) certificate program is one of the newer offerings, designed to help you manage workplace dynamics. Five courses make up the curriculum, including three mandatory and two elective components.

The Society of Human Resources Management offers the Professional in Human Resources (PHR) certification, among three other options (one of which is specific to California). Requirements vary in accordance with your educational background and years of experience in HR; for example, those with an undergraduate degree need 2-4 years of experience to pursue the PHR title, but those with a master's degree need only one year of practice. You achieve certification by successfully completing an exam.

To continue researching, browse degree options below for course curriculum, prerequisites and financial aid information. Or, learn more about the subject by reading the related articles below:

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