By Anne C. Ruddy
The question of whether to obtain an HR certification is a hotly debated topic, with smart HR pros weighing in with points of view that range from “always” to “never,” and “it depends.”
Since HR certifications require money and time, no doubt you would want to research options and assess the potential return on investment. While some HR practitioners pursue certification to improve employment opportunities, others do so to demonstrate proficiency, commitment, professional validation and status.
Regardless of motivation or which certification is right for you, one thing is clear: professional certification elevates the stature of the HR profession as a whole.
83% look for professional certification
“But what’s in it for me, the professional?” you might ask. It’s difficult to quantify the ROI that certification brings in salary terms because there are too many other variables (personal knowledge, skills and abilities, other education, job experience, etc.) that affect a professional’s market value. It is up to you to determine which designation makes the most sense based on your unique circumstances and skill gaps.
To gauge which certifications are worth pursuing, assess the certifying body’s organizational reputation and board credentials. Take a close look at the faculty: are they seasoned professionals currently working in the field who can bring real-world knowledge to the classroom?
Job titles of certified HR professionals and employers’ certification preferences provide clues as well. Data from the WorldatWork Career Center show that 83 percent of employers prefer or ask for professional certification.
Anecdotally, I can tell you that I receive numerous letters from members about the value their WorldatWork training and certification brings them. Daryl Bennett, director of human resources-global operations at BSN Medical, Inc. says that due to certification, he now has a “broader knowledge of HR areas that I would not have gotten in my normal day-to-day work.” Daryl holds three WorldatWork certifications: Certified Compensation Professional®, Certified Benefits Professional® and Global Remuneration Professional®. He is currently pursuing a fourth, the Work-Life Certified Professional® credential.
When WorldatWork introduced the Certified Compensation Professional (CCP) designation in 1975, it was viewed as a true milestone in professionalizing the compensation field. Employers and HR professionals have come to expect that a CCP symbolizes mastery in the challenging field of compensation design and planning.
Article Continues Below
The same can be said for the Certified Benefits Professional designation introduced in 1993. The CCP requires passing nine exams; for the CBP, one must pass seven exams. The Global Remuneration Professional requires eight exams. These exams are rigorous and require training and preparation; it takes an average of four years to obtain any one of these certifications, although candidates may take more or less time to finish.
More relevance, deeper competency
When WorldatWork conducted an extensive global analysis of changes in the total rewards profession, it became evident that professionals working in specialty areas such as sales compensation, executive compensation and work-life were seeking more relevance and deeper competency development.
To respond to these needs, WorldatWork introduced three additional certifications: the Work-Life Certified Professional® (WLCP), the Certified Executive Compensation Professional® (CECP) and Certified Sales Compensation Professional (CSCP). Each new certification is designed with objectivity, rigor, professional ethics and discipline, and each requires continuing competence.
WorldatWork Society has granted nearly 23,000 certifications since 1977. Robin Ferracone, executive chair of Farient Advisors, LLC, was one of the first to obtain the CECP designation. She said, “The CECP certification raises the bar for our industry to ensure that those who are working in executive compensation are properly credentialed.”
When it comes to paying people right, gaining the confidence of leaders and stakeholders and playing an increasingly strategic role, we cannot be a profession “by accident,” we must be one “by intention!” Being certified demonstrates your intention to be the best in your profession and raises the bar for all.