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A Career Development Trifecta – Part 3: Certifications

A Career Development Trifecta – Part 3: Certifications

This week, I’ve been responding to comments/questions from a reader’s letter. During this last installment, I want to discuss the topic of certifications. In the original letter, the reader asked about programs focusing on the PHR/SPHR – which is a certification for human resources professionals.

But before I answer that part of the question, I’d like to talk about certifications in general. There are three kinds of certifications out there:

  • 1. A certification that includes licensure (i.e. lawyers are a good example)
  • 2. A certification that doesn’t have a licensure requirement (like the PHR/SPHR example above)
  • 3. A certificate program – which isn’t a certification (but many people confuse the two)

There’s really only one question you need to ask yourself when it comes to obtaining certification. And, if you answer yourself honestly…it will tell you everything you need to know. The question is: Why are you getting certified?
And, the answer should always be: because I want to . . .

  • Because I want to demonstrate my knowledge of my profession.
  • Because I want to set myself apart from others in my industry by obtaining a credential.
  • Because I want to use the studying process to learn more about my field.
  • Because I want to make a commitment to a career of lifelong learning via the re-certification process.
  • Etc. Etc. You get the point.

Being certified might help you open doors or move your resume to the top of a stack but it will never mean more to anyone else than it does to you. That’s why you shouldn’t get talked into certification.

Get certified because you want to. Stay certified because you want to.

Alrighty now, focusing back to the question about PHR/SPHR certification study programs. There are lots of different ways to study – you can do it alone, local SHRM chapters hold study classes, local colleges and universities have programs, and SHRM offers workshops and study materials. For more information, check out the HR Certification Institute website.

I hope you’ve enjoyed reading this series because I’ve really enjoyed writing it. It’s interesting to hear what’s on your mind and engage in conversation. Got any more questions for the Bartender? Just drop me a line here.


Read PART 1: Terminations & PART 2: Career Paths in HR