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CIPD: is it worth it?

16th July 2019

There’s no question that CIPD qualifications are seen by many as a good way to acquire the essential knowledge and skills to become an effective HR practitioner. After all, how you apply what you’ve learned back in the work environment, and what you learn from the experience, is critical to becoming a fully-rounded HR professional.

It has credibility among employers and the industry alike; whilst on a personal level, it emphasises a commitment to continuing professional development. The qualifications (and professional membership) are underpinned by an HR Profession Map, which defines the global standards for HR practitioners and firmly sets HR as a business discipline.

That being said, though, is all that studying actually worth it? We’ve mulled the point over and come up with the following conclusions:

It could help you get a job in HR 

Having a CIPD qualification isn’t a prerequisite for working in HR, but it can often be the difference between securing a role or not.  Many employers like candidates to have at least a CIPD Level 5 Intermediate Certificate, the idea being that by studying and interacting with other like-minded people, you become a more rounded and knowledgeable HR professional. It also conveys a dedication towards CPD and the ability to create real and positive change in the workplace.

Having a CIPD qualification on your CV may also help open previously closed doors; it shows you’re serious about the profession and don’t just want to get into HR because you’re ‘a people person’ (that happens).

It can additionally ensure specialist knowledge of the latest theory, plus insight into best practice HR and development. With this in mind, many employers typically hold a fully CIPD-qualified candidate in high regard when recruiting for a key HR position.

It’ll teach you things you don’t know

Things change fast in HR, so even if you are an experienced HR manager, it might be that you are unaware of latest developments, and something that employers look for is a candidate who has relevant knowledge.

Also, you may be able to choose the modules you study, so could select an element which is new to you. The Level 5 Certificate covers managing the HR function, reward, using information, resourcing, improving organisational performance and contemporary developments in ER, to name but a few. The L&D version encompasses facilitation skills, developing coaching and mentoring within organisations and knowledge management.

What a CIPD qualification won’t demonstrate are softer skills such as communication, verbal reasoning and leadership. That’s where your personality and experience come into play.

It’s respected across the industry

If you already have an HR-related degree or extensive industry experience, the CIPD may be less of a necessity, but it remains a very well-respected qualification. As such, CIPD training could be a worthwhile step to take, particularly if you want to get into HR from another business function.

Studying for and gaining a qualification can and should help practitioners move their career forward, particularly if they want to move into a specialist area or into a more strategic role. The study will not only focus on HR, but also its application within a wider business context. This is an important benefit and one that gives HR practitioners more credibility and clout in today’s work environment. That is always going to be a good thing.

So is the CIPD for you?  

That’s a tough question to answer. With many CIPD students undertaking a course part-time, alongside their current employment, it’s important to take into consideration the time required for the course, for coursework and for the exams – especially if your employer doesn’t provide study time during work hours. It’s important you can balance this with your home life, as it is a big commitment. Are you motivated enough to hit the books after work or at the weekends?

What cannot be in doubt is that while an understanding of current legislation and best practice is great, to really prove the value you can add to a new organisation or in a new role, examples of practical application are essential. If you’re not working in HR as you study, this could prove challenging, but ultimately, your own determination and passion for the profession is what will get you through.

What do you think? Do you feel that a CIPD qualification is a must-have, or are you perhaps enjoying a successful HR career through on-the-job training? Let us know – contact with us via email or comment on Twitter.