CHRP relevant beyond Canada’s borders

Next review could add more global elements to designation exams

Five years after it was launched as a national designation, the Certified Human Resources Professional (CHRP) designation is gaining ground in Canada and, as it turns out, overseas.

There are now more than 19,000 people with the CHRP designation in Canada and the number of exam writers for the two national exams leading to the CHRP — the National Knowledge Exam (NKE) and the National Professional Practice Assessment (NPPA) — has been growing steadily. In 2008, there were 18 per cent more exam writers than in 2007.

With every exam session, there is a handful of individuals who write the exams overseas, and the Canadian Council of Human Resources Associations (CCHRA) fields calls from HR professionals around the world inquiring about the designation.

When it was launched in 2003, the CHRP was envisioned as a Canadian certification. But in a global economy, national designations such as the CHRP are emerging as a way for multinationals to gauge equivalencies in skills among applicants from various countries.

“Since I’ve arrived in Bermuda, I’ve noticed that the CHRP is highly applicable here,” says Susan Howard, a member of the Human Resources Association of Nova Scotia who moved to Bermuda earlier this year and has been pursuing her designation from there.

“Credentialing in general is big in Bermuda,” she adds. “It’s a way for the international head offices located here to measure equivalencies among professionals from around the world.”

Since arriving in Bermuda, most job postings have required the CHRP or one of the other national HR designations such as the Senior Professional in Human Resources (SPHR) from the United States, she says. In a young profession such as human resources, credentials are seen as particularly important, she says.

In multinationals, the CHRP benefits individuals and organizations alike, says Wendi Campbell, a senior manager of HR at KPMG (currently on sabbatical), who has both a CHRP designation and a chartered accountant (CA) designation.

“The CHRP can certainly help individuals in the context of international transfer programs,” she says.

At KPMG, HR professionals can apply to transfer from Canada to other KPMG offices overseas. And while the CHRP isn’t necessarily a requirement, a designation can certainly help.

The designation is also used to gauge professional abilities and commitment in the context of cross-border work teams, where the certification is an indication to colleagues overseas about an HR practitioner’s professional credibility, says Campbell.

“A person overseas may not necessarily understand the nuances of what the CHRP stands for, but they will recognize the person has obtained the designation in their field in their country,” she says. “That shows a certain level of knowledge, but mostly it’s that commitment to your career, your profession and to ongoing learning.”

In KPMG’s HR division, the CHRP is as valued, as recognized and as celebrated as the financial designations — the CA, certified general accountant (CGA) and certified management accountant (CMA) — are within the financial sections. And, every year, the CHRP is gaining visibility outside of HR, says Campbell.

However, there may be room to include more globally oriented content in the CHRP, says Howard, who is currently pursuing her masters of science in HR from the Edinburgh Business School at Heriot-Watt University in Edinburgh, Scotland.

“I took an elective in global people management, which could be highly applicable,” she says.

But if people consider the CHRP for what it is meant to be — a Canadian designation based on the knowledge expected of Canadian HR professionals — then it certainly meets the requirements, she says.

Making sure the designation continues to reflect what’s expected of Canadian HR professionals is CCHRA’s role. The national body works with the provincial associations as well as HR professionals and academics from coast to coast to regularly update Canada’s HR body of knowledge, on which the two exams leading to the CHRP are based.

The body of knowledge was updated earlier this year and the organization is already planning the next review.

The previous one discovered what’s expected of Canadian HR professionals hasn’t changed all that much since 2003. The main difference was the proportion of importance of the various functional areas within the body of knowledge.

“Making sure the designation remains current is an ongoing process,” says Lynn Palmer, chief executive officer of the CCHRA. “We’re planning to launch a professional practice analysis in 2009, which will review how the body of knowledge will continue to meet business’ expectations of HR professionals moving forward.”

There have been suggestions about adding or strengthening elements related to global people management, and this will certainly be further investigated during the review process, says Palmer. That won’t mean, however, the CHRP will make the move to become a global designation.

The CHRP will remain a Canadian designation, aiming to provide employers with a gauge of a person’s understanding of HR management in Canada, and of her dedication to her career and ongoing professional development, says Palmer.

Tanya O’Callaghan is the marketing and communications specialist at the Canadian Council of Human Resources Associations. She can be reached at (613) 567-2477 ext. 222 and at [email protected]. For more information, visit

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