The Knowledge Nook

The HRCI-SHRM Split - What It Means For HR Certification

Posted by Tami Russell on Feb 11, 2016 12:23:08 PM


More than a year ago, two big names in the Human Resources industry had a messy split.  For many professionals in the industry, confusion followed.

SHRM – the Society for Human Resource Management, and HRCI – the Human Resources Certification Institute, broke apart as SHRM made a move to launch its own SHRM-Certified Professional (SHRM-CP) and SHRM-Senior Certified Professional (SHRM-SCP) credentials. 

The problem? This was in direct competition with HRCI’s Professional in Human Resources (PHR), Senior Professional in Human Resources (SPHR) and Global Professional in Human Resources (GPHR) certificates. 

Testing A Decades-Old Relationship

According to an article on “”, this move on the part of SHRM came as a bit of surprise to HRCI. The “Workforce” article explains that the working relationship between SHRM and HRCI had existed for 37 years.  HRCI executives maintain that the SHRM move blindsided HRCI and undermined the SHRM/HRCI relationship.

As is often the case when researching breakups of this scale, SHRM officials had a bit of a different take on the issue.  They maintained at the time that HRCI officials were aware of “what our vision is for certification,” said SHRM official Hank Jackson. 

Last fall, “Business Management Daily” discussed in depth the messy breakup, referring to an incident where scorned partner HRCI packed up and moved out of the SHRM headquarters in Virginia.  SHRM blocked HRCI from exhibiting at a large conference.  In an apparent move to mend the proverbial fence, HRCI returned to the conference in 2015 with a small exhibit.

Which Organization Offers The Best Product?

In the ensuing months, there have been debates about which organization offers the more rigorous certification exam, and standards on both sides have been scrutinized.  Both claim their products are meeting industry standards.  Industry professionals across the web, in various articles to be found on the subject, are clearly taking sides.

It is a tale that rivals a telenovela!  But, what does all the acrimony mean for the working HR professional?

The HRCI certificates have long been recognized in the Human Resources industry as a gold standard for working professionals.  The SHRM credentials are just beginning to establish their reputation among professionals, and opinions on both are widely debated.

 In short, this rift between two industry giants has forced working HR professionals to do their research and make choices for themselves about which certification route best meets their individual needs.  HR professionals who want to do their own research can first turn to blogs and other reports to be found at and

Certification Still Means Earning Power In The Industry

The uproar has also brought to the forefront how important certification can be to a career – with professionals within the Human Resource industry earning much more across a lifetime by preparing for, and passing, HR certification exams.  Like many industries, having a certificate or certification – one that shows a potential employer the applicant’s dedication to the field - is invaluable.

So what is the right answer for you? The best answer for anyone seeking to advance a career is to research the options and make the choice that is right for you.  There are many programs available to help you do this.  Keep in mind that competition is often a great thing for the people who will benefit from all the options available.

Topics: HR certification

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