What does SHRM’s new competency test mean for HR professionals?

7 Jan

The new certification by SHRM is still a relative unknown.

The Society for Human Resource Management announced in May that it was introducing its human resources certification. The program will launch on Jan. 5, 2015 with the first testing window opening between May 1 to July 15. The new credential has met controversy because there is already a Human Resource Certification Institute, which establishes the credibility of those in the field of HR. Because the HRCI was already partnered with SHRM, some people are wondering whether the HRCI's program will continue or not, according to Human Resources Executive Online.

In a conversation with HRE Online, Jon Decoteau, the SHRM divisional director of the West region, said that the difference between the new test and previous certification programs is that this one "is about how you practice the craft," while the others only cover what someone might know about the subject.

The difference between the certifications is still considered somewhat tenuous, according to HRE Online, in part because people are not fully aware of how the testing will differ from HRCI's existing program. Melissa Fleischer, founder and president of HR Learning Center, a consulting firm, said more research will likely need to be made before people come to a decision. At any rate, it may be a good idea for those who deal with human resources planning to sign up for the second program.

"It appears that, at least for now, the best course of action for HR professionals is to have both certifications, at least until the dust settles and we figure out whether the HRCI certification will continue to be used by employers to evaluate HR professionals," Fleischer said.

More changes coming to SHRM
According to a blog post on HRE Online, SHRM will be moving away from being the National Standards Institute administrator for the HR standards called ISO/TC 260. It is doing this because it wants to focus more on its new competency tests. SHRM will also leave the American National Standards Institute, where it had been an accredited standards developer.

"We've been actively reaching out to already-accredited standards-developing organizations and we've had some inquiries from folks interested in becoming accredited standards-developing organizations," Deb Cohen, SHRM's senior vice president for knowledge development, said, according to HRE Online. "We're very hopeful we'll find one soon and, frankly, if it takes a little while we're prepared to help in any way."

This is a major change for those in the industry, as SHRM has been the major standards group for HR for a long time.

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