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Why HR Professionals need Continuing Education

By: Ronda Payne

Published On: December 13, 2019

So often we graduate from college or university and think, “phew, I’m glad that’s over,” but the truth is the learning has really just begun. While you may be thinking this means you’ll progress into on-the-job learning (and that’s certainly part of it) there should also always be an element of structured education in your life as well, no matter what stage you’re at in your career. This usually doesn’t lead to earning degrees every few years (though that’s right for some), but it can mean continuous education, diplomas, short courses and other elements of education.

Consider the people in charge of education in an organization – that’s generally the individuals in human resources management (HRM). While they’ve earned an HRM diploma, they also know that keeping those formal education brainwaves working is important for the advancement of their career, their general knowledge and staying on top of what’s happening in the industry.

Certifications will Deliver Knowledge and Advance Your Career

Maybe you started your HR career without a lot of specific training. Some in the industry start out in a small company and end up doing HR as a side task, then it grows into something they enjoy and pursue. Others may have come in at an entry level where additional education wasn’t required and worked their way up with experience. If examples like this are the case for you, adding something like an HRM diploma will definitely help your career. Not only will you be adding knowledge and skills, but you’ll also have a diploma to back up your experience.

There are other designations and certifications to consider even if you already have an HRM diploma. These can bring a lot of benefits to HR professionals as well. Among the many designations available in Canada are CHRP (Certified Human Resources Professional), CPHR (Chartered Professional in Human Resources), CHRL (Certified Human Resources Leader), RPR (Registered Professional Recruiter), GPHR (Global Professional in Human Resources) and many, many others. Different designations are offered from various associations and organizations as well as through some post-secondary institutions.

It will take some time and research to determine the best certification, course or program for your needs, but it’s worth it to invest that energy into something to help you advance in your career or go into a specialized area you want to be part of. Consider talking to a career counsellor who specializes in HR or a colleague who has gone through a similar career path to find out some of your options and learn where to start your research.

The benefits of taking a diploma program, joining an association to earn a certification or pursuing a designation are vast. For example:

– Having a certain designation or an HRM diploma can be a requirement for some jobs. If you’re thinking of changing companies to advance in your career or want to move up the ladder with your current employer, you might be held back if you lack the right credentials. Advancing your education opens up the number of job opportunities you can consider in the future.
– Certifications and HRM diplomas look great on a resume. Even when it isn’t a requirement, having advanced, specific education and associations in your field will move you ahead of other candidates with a similar experience when it comes to applying for future positions.
– Taking a program, earning an HRM diploma or enrolling in other courses proves your dedication and willingness to learn about your industry. This shows colleagues and employers that you are serious about working in HR for the long-term.
– Having a solid educational background and/or certification can help you earn more money because of your eligibility for more advanced roles, proven skills and awareness of jobs coming up in the industry.
– Most importantly, courses, programs and certifications ensure you are learning new skills and advancing your knowledge of the field. You will be able to make use of concepts and understand them better when it comes to day-to-day application and you’ll be on top of any of the latest industry trends.


Taking a seminar, attending a weekend conference, enrolling in a short-term class or participating in an online workshop can all be considered micro-programs that add to your formal education. While these courses may not result in a diploma, certification or degree, they will often contribute to the necessary ongoing education requirement for certain certifications or designations. Once you’ve researched the right designation or certification body, you’ll find the requirements to staying “current” or being a “member in good standing.” Most have the requirement to earn a certain number of educational credits each year to prove your involvement in the industry and staying ahead of what is changing and evolving.

Micro programs may also include associated education that isn’t specific to HR. This might be general training in management practices, business, marketing, budgeting or any number of skills used in your HR role. You may also be interested in soft-skill courses like active listening, better public speaking or even interviewing.

Active Awareness of the Field

Education also means staying up-to-date on changes in the field. Being a member of a certification body can help, but if that isn’t the approach you want to take, consider attending an organization’s free social events as an opportunity to network. This will allow you to get to know colleagues, learn some of the new information in the industry and find out other ways to gather more knowledge.


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