#beentheredonethat: Paying for HR Certification with Company Dollars

85The cost of becoming certified in any profession can really add up.  And it’s not just the exam fees.  Textbooks, assessment tests, practice exams and prep classes can really make a dent in your bank account.

Let’s first talk about why getting certified in HR is one of the most important career moves you will make:

  • It translates into earnings- Becoming  a Professional in Human Resources (PHR) or a Senior Professional in Human Resources (SPHR) has tremendous value.  A 2013 Payscale report described better pay, more job opportunities and quicker promotions as just some of the benefits of passing this exam.  Check out their full report here.
  • Necessary-It’s worth noting that the process of preparing teaches you more things about the practice of human resources than you probably ever cared to know!  It’s like taking an accelerated business course with a minor in HR in just 14 or 16 weeks.  For those of you working without degrees in HR, this is a lower-cost way to compete in our industry, and can make you a stronger performer than your peers.
  • It get’s you noticed- Talking to your boss about your goal to become certified tells him that there is a method to your career madness.  Sharing your goals and talking about your career path in the industry lets the powers-at-be know that you take yourself seriously.  And let’s face it, if you don’t take yourself seriously, why should they?

In addition, these exams (and others like them) seek to establish a common language among HR practitioners, both on a national and international level.  Understanding key HR concepts, learning how to become a strategic business partner and being able to navigate the crocodiles of labor law are all expected outcomes from preparing to test, whether you pass the exam the first time or not.  Some would argue that your preparation activities are the most important element to the certification journey.

So, how can you get your company to pay for certification?

1. Do your research.  Does your company have a tuition reimbursement program?  What is the cost of your exam prep materials and taking an exam prep class?  How much is it to register for the test?  Are there payback clauses if you leave the company?

2. Schedule a meeting with your boss.  Don’t try to do this while passing her in the hallway.  Schedule a time to meet, and be prepared to discuss why you getting certified will make her life easier.  Talk about how you will handle any time away from work, and what additional responsibilities you will be willing to take on when you pass the exam.

3. Plan for about $1000 in activities related to exam prep, including exam fees and a prep course.  Now calculate that as a percentage of your overall pay.  Talk about this cost as their investment in you as a vital resource to the company.  How much is it worth to them for you to be the best you can be on the job?

3. Be familiar with the other types of training programs offered company wide.  Getting certified is a form of technical training that is critical to optimum performance.  You are learning about the industry core competencies, not necessarily your company’s core competencies, and that’s ok.  Your company is relying on you to be the expert in all things HR so they can focus on what they do best. And that, my friends, is the point to drive home to your manager.

Remember: This is not about what they can do for you, it is about what you will be able to do for them when you become a stronger, more knowledgable HR contributor.

Tell us how about your successful techniques to getting certification paid for by your company at #beentheredonethat.


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