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8 SHRM Certification Questions That Were Answered at SHRM14

Jul 08, 2014
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The 2014 SHRM Annual Conference and Exposition provided a bit more this year than the regular bevy of interesting keynote speakers, engaging concurrent session topics, and the awe-inspiring vastness of the Expo Hall. SHRM recently announced they will be entering the HR certification game.

The credential is viewed as direct competition with the well established (and long-time SHRM partner) Human Resources Certification Institute (HRCI). Due to the uncertainty and lack of clarity surrounding the whole deal, HRCI Certified HR professionals (as well as those considering HRCI certification) were determined to get some answers. They flocked to the SHRM Certification Lounge to ask questions and attended sessions headed by SHRM staffers Bob Carr, SVP membership, marketing and external affairs; and Alexander Alonso, VP of research. I myself spent some time in the Certification Lounge listening to anxious HR professionals pummel SHRM staffers with questions in a quest to make sense of it all.

It’s important to note that while HRCI was noticeably absent at the conference and were not on site at the Orange Country Convention Center, HRCI staffers were in Orlando; they held an invitation only brunch at a local restaurant on Sunday, June 22nd and hosted a big bash at Epcot on Monday evening. I was unable to attend either event, but based on conversations I had with others, the Epcot event was very well attended even though it was held at the same time as the official SHRM/Glassdoor extravaganza with DJ Jazzy Jeff at the Hard Rock Café.

While lingering questions remain unanswered, we did receive clarity on a few items during the course of the conference:

1. What is the name of the new certification?

SHRM announced there will be two certifications available: SHRM Certified Professional (SHRM-CP) and SHRM Senior Certified Professional (SHRM-SCP). While the names of the certifications were announced in the week prior to the conference, some attendees in Orlando found themselves hearing this news for the first time.

2. What will the eligibility requirements be?

SHRM announced that the new certifications “minimize barriers to participation and reflect current HR roles.” One of the primary differences between the SHRM certification and the HRCI certification is the removal of the requirement for exempt level experience in order to sit for the exam. Individuals with less than a bachelor’s degree can sit for the SHRM-CP exam once they attain a minimum of three years in an HR role, and can test for the SHRM-SCP once they attain seven years experience working in an HR role. Individuals with bachelor’s or graduate degrees are eligible with less work experience required,  regardless if they have a bachelor degree in human resources, or any other bachelor's or graduate degrees.

3. What should HR professionals with existing certifications expect?

Individuals who have earned an existing certification (PHR, SPHR, GPHR, HRBP or HRMP) and are in good standing will be eligible for SHRM’s new certification at no cost by completing three steps between January 1, 2015 and December 31, 2015:

• Document that their certification is in good standing
• Sign the Code of Ethics
• Complete an online tutorial, focusing on HR competencies

SHRM has confirmed to HR professionals with these current certifications that “you will not lose or have to give up any of your current credentials in order to obtain the new SHRM Certification.”

4. Who will provide oversight?

HRM CEO Henry (Hank) Jackson, announced the formation of the SHRM Certification Commission, which will be comprised of HR professionals, certification experts, academics specializing in HR, and other business leaders. He stated that the commission will be an independent technical advisory committee with delegated authority from the SHRM Board of Directors. The role of the Commission will be to manage the certification program, develop the exams, and establish eligibility criteria and recertification requirements.

5. Will there be a “new” Learning System?

SHRM will develop a Learning System for the new SHRM-CP and SHRM-SCP exams with a release date to be announced later. In the meantime, the current SHRM Learning System will be offered through November 30, 2014.

6. When will SHRM offer the first exam for the SHRM-CP and SHRM-SCP?

Plans were announced to offer the first exams in mid 2015 (May – July 2015).

7. Will HRCI recertification credits be offered at SHRM14?

Yes. We will continue to apply to HRCI for recertification credits for all current SHRM programs and events that are scheduled through 2015.

8. What about HR professionals with the PHR-CA or SPHR-CA designation?

SHRM announced plans to develop a special designation specific to California as a supplement to the new SHRM Certification although no specific timeline was announced.

Looking Forward

While the last few months have been filled with uncertainty and turmoil for many HR professionals, it does appear the dust is starting to settle. HRCI has done a good job of reminding certified professionals that they intend to continue to partner with other entities and organizations and SHRM has appeared to realize that their members and conference attendees will continue to be certified through HRCI for the next 3+ years (at a minimum).

In a brochure I picked up in the Certification Lounge, SHRM states: “SHRM supports your decision to prepare for and take the current exam for existing credentials,” and “if you do not pass the exam during the December 2014-January 2015 exam window, and you purchased the 2014 SHRM Learning System, we will provide the new 2015 SHRM Learning System for SHRM-CP/SHRM-SCP free of charge.”

As for me? My SPHR certification is valid through January 2018, and I also fully intend to attain the SHRM-SCP when it’s available in January 2015. I’m not sure how I’ll fit all those credential abbreviations on my business card but that’s not the point; the credentials are a personal reminder of my commitment to the HR profession.

Our profession.

Details on the SHRM Certification, including the HR Competency Model, can be viewed here and you can visit HRCIs FAQ page for answers to additional frequently asked questions.

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