Samantha French originally attained a commerce degree from Dalhousie University in Halifax in 2007. But when she realized she had an appetite for human resources, her mentor at the time — an HR professional — recommended she pursue the Certified Human Resources Professional (CHRP) designation.
“She really encouraged me to go through and take it, (saying) ‘That would be a good next step if you were serious about moving on in your career in HR,’” said French, an HR generalist at Pepsico Foods Canada in Halifax, which has about 5,000 employees.
The certification has definitely helped her career — and not just because she can put the letters after her name, she said.
“It’s more because of the requirement to recertify every three years, so you really have to keep track of how you’re progressing in your career development and it focuses you to work on that,” she said. “Anybody who comes to talk to me about getting into a career with human resources, I always guide them to the CHRP as a great way to get into their career.”
There are more than a few benefits to having the CHRP, according to a study by online salary database PayScale on behalf of the Human Resources Professionals Association (HRPA).
In comparing results for HR professionals with and without a CHRP over a five-year period, it found CHRPs are promoted faster and earn more than counterparts without the designation.
“Anecdotally, we’ve always known that having a CHRP is very worthwhile, we just didn’t really know how valuable and the main message that comes out of the study is that if you’re in HR and there’s one thing you want to do to really turbocharge your career, get a CHRP,” said Bill Greenhalgh, CEO of HRPA in Toronto.
In terms of pay, CHRPs have more earning power over their non-CHRP counterparts, found The Value of a CHRP: More Promotions and Better Pay. The median annual salary for CHRP HR administrators is $44,300 (versus $41,700 for non-CHRPs); $52,600 for CHRP HR generalists (versus $49,100); and $72,900 for CHRP HR managers (versus $63,100).
For white-collar jobs, there are only a few ways a person can improve his pay and certifications are a top way to do that, said Katie Bardaro, lead economist at PayScale in Vancouver, adding three other designations mean a lot to career progression and pay: certified public accountant (CPA), chartered financial analyst (CFA) and LEED AP (leadership in energy and environmental design accredited professional).
“HR is seen to be a genuine, impactful profession and people with CHRPs are seen to be now in the same calibre as designated accountants who have more influence, more impact, more senior positions,” said Greenhalgh.
In terms of overall promotions, CHRPs fare considerably better than non-CHRPs — especially among administrators, generalists and managers, according to the study. Over five years, promotions went to 47 per cent of CHRP administrators (compared to 25 per cent of non-CHRPs); 51 per cent of CHRP generalists (compared to 25 per cent); and 25 per cent of CHRP managers (compared to 14 per cent).
And in terms of specific positions, 45 per cent of CHRP HR generalists became HR managers (versus 21 per cent of non-CHRPs); 26 per cent of CHRP HR assistants became HR managers (versus eight per cent); and 23 per cent of CHRP HR managers became HR directors (versus 13 per cent).
A person coming out of school with a CHRP will be at the manager, director or vice-president level two to five times faster than a graduate without the designation, said Greenhalgh.
“That’s the real big difference. It just really accelerates your career and all the things that come with that — you know, the responsibility, the authority and the ability to make an impact on an organization. That happens much more quickly and, of course, compensation comes with it,” he said.
“What the study really says is that if you’re doing the same job as someone else, your salary will probably be about two to four per cent higher if you have a CHRP, however you’ll get to those positions much more quickly.”
The results are not surprising, said Melanie Peacock, associate professor of the Bissett School of Business at Mount Royal University in Calgary. Having been in the HR profession for more than 20 years, she is a strong advocate of the CHRP.
She has helped develop and teach courses that assist people preparing for the National Knowledge Exam (NKE) and has been actively involved in liaising and networking with the business community to promote the value of the certification.
With seven functional dimensions and 187 required professional capabilities, the CHRP is a rigorous certification, said Peacock, adding it helps in her teaching.
“One of the things I really value about the designation is that it’s not something you just get and keep forever — you have to show ongoing development and commitment to the profession,” she said. “It helps me because what it does is give me that added credibility, what it shows is that I’m up-to-date in the knowledge fields.”
And more employers are listing the designation as “an asset” in job postings, she said.
“We have to adhere to a code of ethics, so it just brings that whole professionalism and rigour to who you’re hiring.”
Peacock said most of her students will pursue the CHRP because they understand the rewards and more organizations are also sponsoring employees to help them achieve the designation.
The study also looked at CHRP frequency in management positions, CHRP prevalence at larger companies and CHRP/non-CHRP pay comparisons by Canadian city and industry. Across the board, CHRPs enjoyed an advantage over non-designated HR professionals.
It’s likely CHRPs are less prevalent in smaller companies because many small firms don’t have a dedicated HR department, but it’s also possible CHRPs are attracted to larger companies, said French.
“My company views (HR) as a strategic business partner required to make the business a success so my thought around it was those more progressive HR people are going to be attracted to larger, fast-paced organizations,” she said.
“It is a lot of extra effort and commitment to go out and do your CHRP but I think, in general, those types of people would be the type of people to succeed in an organization.”
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