Getting your certification through HR Certification Institute® (HRCI®) is an incredible accomplishment! It demonstrates your dedication to the HR field and a personal determination to be the very best HR practitioner. Certification is also a commitment.
To maintain the certification you worked so hard to get, it’s essential to be recertified by achieving 45-60 recertification hours (depending on your certification) every three years. This demonstrates your passion and commitment to your understanding of HR and gives you an opportunity to stay on the cutting edge of HR practice.
“Certification isn’t a one-and-done occurrence,” says Lily Alfaro, HRCI’s certification supervisor. “Recertifying shows your employer that you are committed to HR, to following evolving best practices and to staying up-to-date on the laws governing the HR space.”
Maintaining knowledge is a critical practice in an ever-shifting work and human capital landscape. Recertification demonstrates a deep-seated commitment to the HR profession and the people you serve.
While recertification is an important process to carry out, there can be a lot of confusion regarding ways to recertify. With conferences frequently touted as the best means of gaining recertification credits, recertification can appear like a financial drain.
But there’s good news: Recertification is much more accessible than it appears.
Here are some ways you can maintain your professional development and achieve the credits you need to stay certified.
While conferences are an incredible way to gain recertification credits, it can be difficult to get funding for travel expenses. In general, companies tend to spend less on conference travel than in the past. Instead, many companies are investing in webinars and other more accessible learning modules.
Not only is this more convenient and cost-efficient, but the time you spend on in-house learning modules can be put toward recertification hours. See what your company is offering or which learning services they subscribe to. It’s possible you can recertify from the comfort of your own office — no travel required!
“The main requirements for webinars, podcasts or other learning modules is that it’s HR-related, and there is an expected learning outcome,” Alfaro says. “We award hour-for-hour credit, and there is no limit.”
Alternatively, if your department hosts in-person seminars, those can count as well — as long as it’s HR-related and includes a learning outcome. “Your department might bring in a lawyer to talk about compliance or legal changes, for example,” Alfaro says. “That time spent educating yourself can absolutely count toward recertification.”
Many candidates for recertification accrue credits without even realizing it, simply by participating in office-led learning opportunities.
But recertification isn’t confined to conferences and formal learning modules. In fact, did you know that you can actually get recertification credits from carrying out HR work projects?
It’s true: You can get the bulk of your credits (40 of the required 60 credit hours) simply by engaging in HR projects at work. “This can range from creating or updating an employee handbook, to going through an OSHA audit, to assisting in a merger or acquisition,” Alfaro says.
Work-based credits can provide two-thirds of the hours you need to recertify. This can make a huge difference in many ways. First, you can earn the bulk of your credits for free, while doing a huge service to your organization, department and the people you serve.
Secondly, aligning work goals and projects with your HR education and recertification helps you to get more from your work. When you go into a project with purpose and in alignment with learning outcomes, the work is more engaging and enriching.
“You’ve put hours into an HR project, so why not gain those credits along the way?” Alfaro says.
One area of confusion when recertifying is the “pre-approved” tag that appears on some conferences and activities. This pre-approval is there for the candidate’s ease of mind — it’s a guarantee that time spent at that event will count toward recertification hours.
However, that doesn’t mean that conferences or events that haven’t been pre-approved don’t count. The truth is they probably do count, but they weren’t submitted for pre-approval by the organizers.
“Not all organizations may submit their programs for pre-approval, but we will still accept the hours you spent attending their conferences or events toward your recertification,” Alfaro says.
Pre-approval isn’t a requirement; it’s just a safeguard for attendees to be certain the credits will count. But the same rules that apply for in-house training, seminars and work projects apply here: If it’s HR-related and there are expected learning outcomes, the credit will be accepted.
Have further questions? Find out everything you need to know about recertification here.
This article was originally published in 2018 and was updated in October 2019.