@SHRM Certifications Gain Accreditation!

If you haven’t seen it SHRM announced last week that they gained accreditation for their SHRM-CP and SHRM-SCP exams by the Buros Center for Testing. This was a big deal because it was one of the major things HRCI was holding over the heads of those HR pros trying to decide which HR certification they should get. This is no longer a factor as both are accreditated.

From SHRM’s press release:

To achieve accreditation, SHRM submitted a 1,900-page application documenting its testing practices, methodology, and policy. The thorough review process took six months to complete and included site visits of SHRM and its testing vendors.

Since the launch of the SHRM-CP and SHRM-SCP two years ago, SHRM has worked to gain recognition as the global standard in HR certification. Achieving accreditation further demonstrates to HR professionals and their employers that SHRM-certified professionals meet the high standards expected and needed in HR today.

We celebrate this milestone with more than 96,000 SHRM–certified professionals, the fastest-growing HR certification community. The SHRM-CP and SHRM-SCP are the most widely-taken HR exams in the world.


Who can also listen to a portion of media call where SHRM made this announcement by clicking on this link.

So, why is this a big deal?

I could argue that for most HR pros and most organizations hiring HR pros, it’s probably not. Many won’t understand the difference in being accreditated or not accreditated. All they want is the letters behind your name. But, if you believe that hiring someone who actually knows how to work in the business of HR, then it becomes a very big deal!

It’s like hiring someone from a great university, say Michigan State University and their fantastic HR program, versus hiring someone who graduated with an HR degree from the back of an airline magazine. You want to make sure you’re actually hiring someone who came from an accreditated program!

Another piece that’s important here is the continued battle between SHRM and HRCI to gain the trust of the growing profession of human resources. There are roughly 1700 university-based¬†HR programs available in the United States. The profession of HR continues to grow at a staggering pace.

I’ve argued all along that SHRM has many advantages in continuing to have the upper hand in this war for HR pros, being accreditated just took away a major advantage HRCI had over SHRM. I’ve always thought the competency¬†based measurement that SHRM has is better than a knowledge based assessment. I don’t much care if my HR pros can give me facts, I need them to be able to use that knowledge to move my business forward and demonstrate to me they have that ability.

SHRM still has a ton of work to do to stay on top, like updating their university program and allowing HR college students and new graduates to gain some sort of certification that isn’t pending. A global certification is another item that is a must. Plus, SHRM has to figure out how to act smaller and move faster. They’re a very traditional, large association type organization, and quite frankly that isn’t a strength in a world that is moving extremely fast.

As a SHRM member, I’m happy that the SHRM-CP and SHRM-SCP are now accreditated. I look forward to seeing continued updates and changes from SHRM, and I’m excited to see that they’re actually being a bit more open with the HR blogger community and giving us access to information before it goes public.

Guess What? HRCI Didn’t Die!

So, back in March, I told you that HRCI was going to die! You know the whole SHRM started their own certification and why would anyone want two certifications. If given the choice the smart HR pro is going to choose SHRM over HRCI. I assumed, at that point, HRCI would pack up camp and just slowly go away.

Well, they packed up camp! Move across the street from SHRM (I mean literally across the freaking street!) and set up a new camp. I think that’s funny and cool, and shows some of the spunk the HRCI crew has in them.

We all know the story. HRCI was in bed with SHRM for 39 years, then SHRM decides it wants to be in bed by itself and start their own certification. My take then, and now, is the same, smart move by SHRM to drive more revenue. Good decision for the business, mass confusion for the membership.

So, HRCI, like most companies facing survival, did some things to make sure they will go on another forty years and some things I really like. Check these out:

Year around continuous testing. One major problem with most certification bodies is they get stuck in having their one or two times per year testing. Great for them, awful for the people wanting to certify. Technology now allows you to test anytime, anywhere. No waiting. Test when you’re ready. Smart.

Voucher program. Allows organizations to buy exams in bulk. So, you have a large HR shop and want to get all of your people certified, buy in bulk and save money. Also, certifying prep organizations can also buy in bulk and sell packages for prep and testing all in one. Again, this is something organizations like because they can pay for it all at once. Smart.

APHR – Associate Professional Of HR – HRCI was super smart with this one. Before students couldn’t truly get their PHR. They could take test exam but had to wait like two years before HRCI would issue the certification. Now, HR students (and there are 1,700 HR college programs around the country) can take this exam as a student and get the certification. Brilliant on so many levels! You now lock up students with an HRCI cert from the beginning and they’re more likely to move forward with additional HRCI certs. Plus, it’s a huge audience to go after that just keeps getting bigger each year.

2nd Chance Insurance – Currently for $150 you can hedge your bets on failing your HRCI exam and almost 45% of people fail! It’s tough! This is a little insurance policy to take it again the second time for a fraction of the cost. Smart. People love buying insurance! Smart.

Top Employer’s Institute – HRCI partnered with Top Employer’s Institute out of the Netherlands to certify complete organization’s HR shops. Basically, this is a third party coming in and ensuring your HR shop is providing best practices to your organization and you have your shit together. Everyone loves trophies! Smart.

I still don’t know how all of this will end, but my declaration of HRCI dying might have been premature! What I like is they’re moving fast and adapting to what HR pros want. This is a weakness of SHRM who tends to move much slower in making changes, even obvious changes.

HRCI has nothing to lose. They’re smaller. More nimble. They’ve got a little brother edge to them which I like. They’ve still got some huge marketing challenges ahead. First and foremost is SHRM’s advantage of messaging and marketing to their full membership about the advantages of their own certifications. That will be tough to overcome, but I don’t see them going away anytime soon.