HR Leads Business

Jul 8, 2016 | Barry Lawrence, HRCI Staff Writer

Seven Questions to Ask When Seeking HR Certification

Choosing a professional credentialing program can be tricky and confusing. There are a lot of options out there – many legitimate and some, not so much.

Here are some important questions to ask when choosing a professional certification program:

  • Is the certification program accredited?  Accreditation is how programs are measured, providing the professional, employers and the public at large with the assurance that the program meets quality expectations for the profession. Accreditation standards are set by the NCCA’s Standards for the Accreditation of Certification Programs. NCCA is an independent, third-party indicator certification program excellence.
  • What is the cost of the program? Research the costs and compare programs for value. Keep in mind that examination costs generally do not include exam preparation materials, only study guides, classroom instruction or other guidance. Choose preparation materials that best fit your style of learning.
  • What kind of on-the-job experience is required? The most reputable certification programs require a certain number of years of job experience. Credible certifications also seek proof of academic instruction and successful completion of an examination.
  • Are there other professionals you can talk to about the certification program? Solid certification programs can identify some individuals for you to talk to. Find out about their experiences, including how they prepared for exams. How did they juggle work and certification tasks? How did the certification enhance their career?
  • Does the certification show up in job advertisements? Prominent professional certifications have clout, and that means that many employers will seek job candidates with the certification provider’s credentials. Many companies will weed out job candidates who don’t have preferred professional credentials.
  • Does the certification program have options for you as you continue to grow professionally? The most robust certification programs have a complete suite of certifications – for those who are just starting out in the field to those who are viewed as senior-level experts. Established programs may also have programs to meet different requirements for different global and regional settings, for example, or to meet various industry demands.
  • What happens after you complete the certification program? The organization providing the program should be able to provide you with facts and figures about how the benefits of the certification. More jobs? Higher salaries? Higher career satisfaction? Also, don’t forget to ask about how the certification program benefits to your employer. After all, your company may be paying for your certification, so they may want to know that they are getting a return on their investment of professional development dollars.

Choosing an HR certification is a major decision and commitment of time. The quality and reputation of the certification you receive plays an important role in future of your career. So don’t choose a certification from just any organization. Do your homework!