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SHRM Rolls Out Its New Credentialing Program

Its professional certification designations of SHRM-CP and SHRM-SCP seek to replace longtime standards PHR and SPHR.

June 20, 2014
Related Topics: Your HR Career, Skills Testing and Assessment, HR Certifications, Competencies, Career Development, HR/Workforce Trends, The HR Profession, Policies and Procedures, HR in the C-suite, The Latest

The Society for Human Resource Management unveiled its new professional certification designations, marking the latest move in a growing rivalry between the world’s largest HR association and the profession’s leading certification organization.

The new certification, announced June 19, will be the SHRM Certified Professional, or SHRM-CP, and SHRM Senior Certified Professional, or SHRM-SCP, and is based on the organization’s HR Competency Model. The first exam for the new credential is planned for mid-2015, SHRM officials said in a written statement. Details were not immediately available.

The establishment of these certifications means that SHRM will be competing for certificate holders with the HR Certification Institute, which SHRM created in 1976 to administer certification exams. The institute offers three main credentials — the Professional in Human Resources, or PHR, the Professional in Human Resources, or SPHR, and the Global Professional in Human Resources, or GPHR. SHRM sold study guides to help applicants pass the HRCI exams.  

SHRM’s May announcement about its new program and its efforts to help HRCI certificate holders transition their credentials to SHRM’s new standard took HRCI officials and many in the HR community by surprise. However, SHRM President and CEO Hank Jackson maintained that the two organizations had been discussing the future of their certification programs for months.

Amy Dufrane, executive director of HRCI, said many practitioners are “confused and frustrated” by SHRM’s decision and criticized the association for failing to provide details about the new certification.

“SHRM’s announcement released on June 18 did little to clarify, particularly since it has not allowed the HR profession to review any of its certification proposals in detail,” Dufrane said in a written statement. “Current certificants should know that their letters cannot be ‘transferred’ to another certifying organization and that they must recertify with HRCI in order to keep their hard-earned certifications. HRCI certifications have always been competency-based and derived with input from thousands of practicing HR professionals who bring real-world experience to our products. Also, HRCI is and has always been independent of exam preparation programs, which protects the integrity of our certifications.”

HRCI officials have compiled a list of common questions from certificate holders. Among them: 

1.           How is SHRM’s certification different from HRCI’s, and how different is it?

2.           When will SHRM’s new certification be accredited? By what organization?

3.           How can SHRM grandfather HRCI credentials (e.g., PHR, SPHR, GPHR) if it has criticized them for being inadequate? How come if SHRM implies that the PHR/SPHR and others need improvements – they are the main qualification for getting the new certification?

SHRM spokeswoman Kate Kennedy said that details about the program will be released at SHRM’s annual conference in Orlando, which opens Sunday.

The association also announced the establishment of an independent governing board “composed of certified HR professionals, certification experts, academics specializing in HR and other members from the business community,” to oversee the certification program, according to the press statement. The board, named the SHRM Certification Commission, will develop the exams and establish criteria and recertification requirements, among other duties.

Meanwhile, the relationship has become increasingly stormy, with SHRM revoking the memberships of HRCI staff members who were “disinvited” from attending SHRM’s annual conference, according to Matthew Doering, an HRCI spokesman. And last month, HRCI moved its office from SHRM’s headquarters in Alexandria, Virginia, to a temporary space nearby. The institute plans to move to a permanent home in September, he said.

SHRM officials were unavailable for comment. 

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