To a layman out there, the professional responsibilities of a Human Resources Manager or HRM are limited to hiring and firing employees. Truth be told, a HR professional performs a wide array of jobs to ensure increased productivity of an organization. So, how exactly do you become a HR professional? Are there any certification tests? How do you study for these tests? Read on to find answers to these questions.
What Exactly Does an HR Professional Do?
The basic goal of the Human Resources department is to make sure that an organization functions like a well-oiled machine. A typical HR professional is expected to develop strategic plans for talent acquisition, recruit qualified employees, arrange for training sessions when necessary, maintain employee relationships, and keep track of monthly remunerations and other benefits. The HR department has to work in sync with the financial and technical departments to ensure that their employees are equipped with the latest advancements in their respective fields. Over the years, the role of an HR employee has evolved along with simultaneous changes in the nature of an average professional organization. As the industry has become increasingly competitive, there is a huge onus on acquiring and retaining the best talent in the field. It is the job of an HR professional to make sure that employees are satisfied with their individual progress within a larger institution. This includes developing an amicable work environment and providing appropriate remuneration among other things.
What Certification Do You Need to Become an HR Professional?
Strictly speaking, you don't need an HR certification to become a Human Resources professional. That being said, anyone who is serious about making professional progress in this field should consider taking certification tests. It is no secret that the market is replete with competition and you need to go the extra mile to stay ahead of your colleagues. According to research conducted by the Human Resources Certification Institute, one out of two hiring managers prefers candidates with official certification.
What are the different types of certification?
While HR certification is offered by various agencies, the HRCI, or the Human Resources Certification Institute, is one of the most reputable certifying authorities in the industry. The HRCI has been accredited by the National Commission for Certifying Agencies (NCCA) and it provides two kinds of certification for HR professionals - PHR, or Professional in Human Resources, and SPHR, or Senior Professional in Human Resources. To earn these certificates, you have to clear the PHR Human Resources Exam and the SPHR exam respectively (details mentioned below).
What are the eligibility criteria?
Right at the very onset, you need to have an undergraduate degree or a high school diploma along with relevant experience in the HR field. To appear for the PHR human resources exam, a candidate must have one to four years of general HR experience; the precise amount of required experience depends on the education qualifications of an individual. For instance, an individual with a master's degree needs only one year of relevant experience while someone with a high school diploma needs four years experience. Since SPHR is a bigger professional milestone, one needs almost 4-7 years of HR experience to take the exam. The exams are conducted during two phases in a year and you can apply online at the HRCI website.
How to prepare for HRCI certification tests?
Both the exams, i.e. PHR and SPRH, have 175 questions related to strategic management, employee and labor relations, workforce planning, total rewards, etc. The basic aim is to test your expertise in the field of human resource management. In most cases, people prefer to join preparatory courses taught by reputed HR professionals. Alternatively, there are several self-study software programs like SHRM Learning System, Human Resources Certificate Preparation, Certgear, etc., which contain in-depth information and model questions. Additionally, the HRCI also releases official study guides to help candidates prepare for these certification tests. Keep tracking your progress regularly by doing model test papers and online assessment exams. This will give you a fair idea about the amount of effort you need to put in regularly. A few days before the exam, make a comprehensive exam plan after considering factors like the number of questions, the amount of time, and the difficulty level of the test in general. Keep your calm, don't get anxious, and things will work out for you. Good luck!