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HR Magazine - July 2002: Cover Story - Facing the Future: Proof of Competence

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“Absolutely anybody can put up a shingle and say ‘I do HR,’” notes Michael J. Lotito, SPHR, of the law firm Jackson Lewis. But there are ways to demonstrate mastery of the job.

About 56,000 HR professionals have passed a certification exam, either the Professional in Human Resources (PHR) or the Senior Professional in Human Resources (SPHR). Should one of these certifications be a requirement, such as passing the bar exam is for practicing law? “That’s a hot button issue,” says Lotito.

Certification and licensing matters are generally left to the states. Experts say requiring such a designation is important for professions in which a lack of skills could cause serious harm to the consumer, such as in medicine.

However, the Human Resource Certification Institute (HRCI) and the Society for Human Resource Management, with which it is affiliated, say certification is an important credential that enhances the stature of HR professionals and helps demonstrate the skills they offer organizations.

“An employer can pretty confidently know that the employee has a baseline of knowledge” to apply to an HR job, says HRCI Director Cornelia Cont.  

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