HR Certifications: Where Are We Now?

May 2014: The Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) surprises the HR world by announcing they will end their long-time partnership with the Human Resources Certification Institute (HRCI) in order to launch their own certifications. The SHRM-CP (Certified Professional) and SHRM-SCP (Senior Certified Professional) would now compete with HRCI’s Professional in Human Resources (PHR), Senior Professional in Human Resources (SPHR), and other certifications. Many of us were left a little confused: unsure what would happen to our current certifications and uncertain what was going to be expected of us going forward.

Two years later, the upheaval seems to have settled a bit, leaving us with some questions and more choices. One question to ask is, “Why get certified”? There are many reasons. Being a certified HR professional demonstrates a mastery of the profession and a commitment to keeping up with new HR trends and developments through recertification. For organizations, having certified HR professionals shows a commitment to developing employees and a commitment to growing the business. For example, a 2015 study released by the Boston Consulting Group showed overall excellence in talent management capabilities correlates with increases in company revenue and profits.

Another question to ask is, “What certification should I get”? This ties directly in with the choices. There is a plethora certifications available. HRCI offers the following: aPHR for new graduates with little real-world experience, the PHR and SPHR for more seasoned professionals, PHRca for practitioners with employees in California, and the GPHR for Global HR. You can find information about eligibility, costs, subject matter, etc. at and in the HRCI 2016 Certification Policies and Procedures Handbook. MSEC members currently receive a $50 discount on the testing fee with HRCI. When an MSEC member registers for an HRCI test, they will see a list of organizations to select from. Choose MSEC from the list and the system will automatically discount the exam fee.

SHRM also has choices: the SHRM-CP for people early in their careers, and the SHRM-SCP for more advanced professionals. You can find more information at, and in the 2016 SHRM Certification Handbook. We recommend you take all of this into account when choosing which test to take.

Click here for a free informational webinar detailing certifications and MSEC study options.  There are study programs for HRCI running this fall in Arizona, Colorado, and Utah, and SHRM study programs in Arizona and Colorado. Our programs include all study materials, MSEC study guides and quizzes, and instructors who have taken the exams and are subject-matter experts. Click here for more information on the schedules and costs. You can contact MSEC at 800.884.1328 with questions.