Taking HR certification to next level

CHRP could use fine-tuning to prepare practitioners for senior roles
By Brian Kreissl
|Canadian HR Reporter|Last Updated: 06/05/2012

I have my Certified Human Resources Professional (CHRP) designation and I am currently going through the recertification process the second time around.

So, it’s probably in my best interest to try to put a positive spin on the CHRP and help raise the profile of the designation. But, contrary to what people might think, this blog isn’t about shameless self-promotion.

Therefore, in good conscience, I have to admit the CHRP in its current format isn’t quite as comprehensive, rigorous or necessary as some people believe.

Since many senior practitioners seem to get by without it, the CHRP is hardly a requirement for a successful career in HR. I’ve even met people in senior HR roles who have never taken an HR course in their lives (although that’s not necessarily a good thing).

Advantages of CHRP

This doesn’t mean the CHRP is worthless or obtaining it would hinder an HR practitioner’s career. I would still advise people who are entering the profession to pursue their CHRP.

After all, PayScale and the Human Resources Professionals Association (HRPA) found recently that holders of the designation earn more than their non-CHRP colleagues.

And when an employer is presented with two otherwise identical candidates, it will probably choose the candidate with a CHRP — at least for an intermediate to senior-level role.

A designation proves the holder has attained a certain level of education and experience. It also demonstrates a commitment to the profession and ensures a certain uniformity of content and rigour, regardless of the academic institution where one studied.

Enhancing CHRP

So, what’s my issue with the CHRP? Well, in spite of some of the reforms in recent years (including the need for recertification, the degree requirement, a national curriculum and the reintroduction of an experience requirement in Ontario), The CHRP doesn’t adequately prepare practitioners for roles at the most senior, strategic levels.

As Paul Juniper, director of the Queen’s University IRC (Industrial Relations Centre) in Kingston, Ont., recently pointed out in a session he held at the Human Resources Institute of Alberta (HRIA) annual conference, while the CHRP is a useful entry level designation, it isn’t sufficient preparation for a career as an HR practitioner at the most senior levels.

Juniper argues learning beyond the CHRP needs to be enhanced in order to take the HR profession in Canada to the next level.

I couldn’t agree more. Additional education beyond the CHRP is a great idea. However, another valid option would be enhancing the curriculum so the CHRP becomes more meaningful.

Several people have argued the CHRP should strive to be on an equal footing with professional accounting designations, yet few would argue we’re there yet. For one thing, more courses are required to obtain a CGA, CMA or CA designation than are needed for a CHRP.

The addition of courses in employment law, marketing, project management, finance (not just accounting), general business strategy, information technology, business ethics, corporate governance, business communications, statistics, and metrics and benchmarking would go a long way towards providing HR professionals with the broad business background they often lack.

Even certain HR disciplines such as performance management, succession planning, organizational design and development merit additional coverage within the CHRP curriculum.

All provincial HR associations should also reintroduce the experience requirement. However, the type of experience required to obtain the CHRP should be more structured, as in the legal and accounting professions. That would require more co-operation from employers, but it could be done.

It’s also important to ensure candidates for the CHRP aren’t faced with the catch-22 situation of being unable to obtain the designation without the right level of experience, while also being unable to obtain the type of experience necessary without first having the designation.

Some would argue the CHRP was never meant to be a senior-level HR designation, and the Senior Human Resources Professional (SHRP) designation is for more senior leaders in HR. However, my understanding is only a handful of provincial associations even offer the SHRP to members. And the SHRP is only offered to the most senior practitioners.

Clearly, something is required to meet the needs of senior practitioners who aren’t quite at the executive level. As some would point out, that could consist of an advanced program at the graduate level.

However, with the cost of such programs prohibitive for many people, enhancing the existing designation might be the better option.

Brian Kreissl is managing editor of Consult Carswell. He can be reached at brian.kreissl@thomsonreuters.com. For more information, visit www.consultcarswell.com.

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