Cause the Effect You Want: Part I—SHRM Specialty Credentials

Get SHRM-certified, then recertify—and improve your organization—with SHRM education programs

By Jeanne L. Morris and Nancy A. Woolever, SHRM-SCP March 17, 2022
Cause the Effect You Want: Part I—SHRM Specialty Credentials

​As an HR professional, your actions—big and small—ripple outward, far beyond the moment. HR has the power to empower others. We change lives, drive productivity and value for our organizations, improve society, and affect people we may never meet. SHRM leads by example, working every day to build better workplaces—by sharing knowledge, expertise and tools and helping employees succeed, even in disruptive times. Our efforts have a positive impact on over 115 million workers and their families around the globe. 

There is no better way to make a positive impact on the world of work than to become SHRM-certified. The overwhelming majority of executives surveyed in our latest research study—92 percent—agreed that earning a SHRM certification will be important in the future. It's one of many reasons why HR professionals are motivated to move the goal of getting their SHRM-CP or SHRM-SCP credential from the "to-do" list to the "today" list.

In addition to certification, SHRM offers multiple ways to continue your professional development, many of which can help you recertify your credential. This three-part series provides an overview of the professional development options available through SHRM Education programs, and how they can help you Cause the Effect you want—in your career, your organization and your profession.

This month's article explores the SHRM Specialty Credential Program; next month will discuss SHRM's People Manager Qualification, and the last article will review the five steps to achieving and maintaining SHRM certification.

Start with the end in mind: learn, earn your SHRM certification and sustain it through recertification.

SHRM Education: Continuously Elevating HR

SHRM's professional development curriculum extends across all career levels and provides broad and vast learning experiences. Multiple program choices allow for growth and improvement as an HR professional pursuant to your individual educational goals.

This curriculum helps you accomplish two things. First, enhancing your education helps you stand out and differentiate yourself in a competitive market. Second, you can leverage what you've learned to help improve the lives of working people, both at your organization and in society at large.

For HR professionals who are not yet certified, SHRM Education programs represent valuable pathways toward building both career credibility and a better workplace.

For SHRM-certified professionals who have earned the pinnacle HR credential and who understand the importance of sustaining it, SHRM Education programs offer professional development credits (PDCs) toward recertification.

The SHRM Specialty Credential Program

The SHRM Specialty Credential Program covers several focused fields of practice. Earning a SHRM specialty credential (SC) is an investment in your continued professional development and demonstrates your specialized knowledge in a complex and continually evolving topic area.

Requirements include completing several content-specific, competency-based seminars and eLearning courses and attaining a successful score in an online assessment.

SHRM certification is a separate program. You are not required to have a SHRM-CP or SHRM-SCP credential to be eligible for a SHRM SC. For those who are SHRM-certified, however, earning an SC also earns a substantial number of PDCs in the Advance Your Education category.

Who Benefits from a SHRM Specialty Credential?

The SC program serves a dual purpose, attracting two kinds of HR professionals.

First are those who are not yet qualified for SHRM certification or who are not quite ready for the commitment and rigor of preparing for the exam. Earning an SC allows them to upskill by focusing on a narrower area of expertise. The SC experience is a great way to build muscle and confidence for taking the next step—pursuing their SHRM-CP or SHRM-SCP credential.

The other HR professionals who can benefit from the SC program are those who are already SHRM-certified and who want to sustain their credential by advancing their education. Earning an SC enables them to address their development needs or support their particular interests, enjoy a flexible and agile learning experience, and acquire PDCs toward recertification.

SHRM data shows that SHRM-certified professionals who earn an SC are able to leverage the learning outcomes of these programs to complete workplace projects that improve their organizations.

Key Specialties Covered and Their Value

Each SC is a deep dive into an HR competency, function or area of study. Many align with the SHRM Body of Applied Skills and Knowledge™ (SHRM BASK™), the framework for SHRM certification and the SHRM-CP and SHRM-SCP exams.

SHRM's current SC offerings include California HR Law, HR Department of One, Inclusive Workplace Culture, People Analytics, Talent Acquisition, Total Rewards, U.S. Employment Immigration, and Workplace Investigations.

SCs enable SHRM to reach specific HR constituencies by addressing their unique professional development needs.

For example, talent acquisition and recruiting professionals may not know the extent to which SHRM provides tools and resources in their practice area. Earning an SC in their field can help them excel as practitioners and expand their credibility. A recent program participant, Jen Ellms, said, "As a new member [of] the HR world, I don't yet have the experience to take the SHRM-CP exam. The SHRM Talent Acquisition Specialty Credential was a wonderful opportunity for me to show my employer that I am passionate and committed to continuing my education as a talent acquisition professional."

An experienced practitioner in a different field offered another example. Michael Letizia, SHRM-SCP, president of Letizia HR Solutions, Inc. said, "California employment laws are among some of the most complex in the world. A strategic career investment in the SHRM California Law HR Specialty Credential provides the California professional [with] expertise that distinguishes them from others in the field and adds exceptional value to California business."

Next month we will see how SHRM's People Manager Qualification (PMQ) can help cause more of the effects you want in your career and your organization. 

Jeanne L. Morris is vice president, education at SHRM. Nancy A. Woolever, SHRM-SCP, is vice president, certification at SHRM.



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