The Value of a Certification class for the HR practioner

I am teaching a certification class starting today. I will have some eager students who are in HR related positions hoping they can parlay that experience and what they learn in class into a PHR or SHRM-CP. The class, sponsored by a local university for its employees “sold out” and I will have a full class.


I have been certified for a long time and have both my SPHR and my SHRM-SCP. I have taught classes for both. I learn something new every time because the material updated every year I get a chance to keep up to date with what is happening in HR. That is the value to me. What about to my students?

Value to the student

I have found over 18 years that most people have a limited view of HR. Their experience may come from education, but not typically. They may have worked for one or two companies, maybe three at most, so their HR experience is how those departments are run. This experience may be good or it may be bad. However, even if it is good the person often does not know what the laws say, they know what their company did. They may not be aware of the varieties of theories of management, or reward, or discipline because they only know what their company did. So the value to the student is that they have their horizon broadened.

Shows initiative

Getting certified, for the first time, is not easy. Most everyone that is certified will tell you they have no desire to repeat the test. Even getting recertified on CEUs is no piece of cake. For someone to dedicate themselves to studying, learning vocabulary, and practicing tests takes initiative and hard work especially if they are working and have families. Hiring employers should take into consideration the type of person they are hiring. Existing employers should recognize the treasure they have in their midst, with having an employee who is trying to improve themselves in their chosen field.

Denigrating the certification

Due to the separation of HRCI and SHRM in the certification world, some people have questioned the value of a certification. Whether you agreed with it or not, the fact that there are now two HR certifications does not devalue the certification. Both are difficult to get. Both provide students with information and ideas that they normally do not get in their day-to-day job. It makes people more well-rounded in their chosen profession. None of us should make light of the hard work it took for someone to get a certification.
While it may not be valuable to you because you are in a specialty area of HR and no longer need to be diverse in your skills, most people need to keep up on the ever more complicated of HR in the 21st century.
Applaud these people, congratulate them on their accomplishment, and don’t snicker at their certification. Hire them, they work hard and are on their way to being your better HR employee.

4 thoughts on “The Value of a Certification class for the HR practioner”

  1. Mike–
    I love everything you write and appreciate your perspective on HR. I agree that it is irresponsible and insulting to denigrate people who have the certification. I also agree that it shows initiative. I respectfully disagree that it is hard to get. Some of the material on the SPHR was laughably basic. My son’s 5th grade class was studying some of the basic statistical measures asked on the SPHR. I realize that there is a failure rate each year, but I do not think that is the same as making the certification “difficult to earn.” I realize I am in the minority among most traditional HR practitioners, and I hope my questioning of the certification value does not come across as insulting to those who work to earn it–hard work is appreciated regardless.

  2. Mike,
    I couldn’t agree more. I have been able to work with several companies throughout my HR career, and have seen the very best and the very worst Human Resources practitioners that could be offered. The better practitioners were all certified by HRCI or SHRM, the worst ones were individuals who had worked for one or two companies in their career, and could only do things the way that company had done them. I feel either Certification has value, as each is set against a measurable and consistent standard.

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