During the month of November and December, I was studying very hard for the SPHR-CA certification and was unable to devote the time I wanted here at HHHR. In fact, I was surprised when I looked back and saw that I only posted a couple blog posts and released only one podcast! Instead, I devoted the majority of my free time in the early mornings and after work to studying for the certification exam. The rest of the time I allotted to preparing for the CMA exam.
So, why in the world would I, an HR pro living and working in Colorado and Wyoming, decide to take the California SPHR certification? My company has no employees in California and I don’t see any chance that we ever will. Why “waste” my time??
I have two reasons why I sat for the SPHR-CA certification.
First, I am a strong proponent of certifications, whether it is through HRCI or SHRM. To quote HRCI, certifications “demonstrate relevance, competence, experience, credibility and dedication to human resources to your employers, clients, staff members and professional peers”.
I want to earn all the certifications I am eligible for. I’m elegible for the SPHR-CA, so I decided to take it. I would take the GPHR (Global Professional in Human Resources) if I could but I have no international experience, making me not eligible, unfortunately. I will also take the necessary steps in January to earn my SHRM-SCP.
Second, the CA certification gives me one more HR specific credential that I can leverage in the job market. I believe each person is responsible for their careers. You never know when you will be suddenly out of a job or a job opportunity of a lifetime presents itself. You are responsible to be ready for these events.
In fact, what initially got me thinking about the California certification was two amazing HR executive opportunities that were presented to me through recruiters in 2013 and 2014. Interestingly, both opportunities were based in Denver but had the majority of their employees working in California. I explored both opportunities but, in the end, lacked the necessary California HR knowledge.
I love my current job, but as I’ve said before, I will always seriously consider and explore any great executive HR job opportunity.
So, with my decision made to take the exam, I purchased the study guide from SHRM this past summer and started studying. I really hunkered down in November and December and sat for the test on the morning of December 15. The test was just as difficult (maybe even more so since I have no CA HR experience) than the SPHR test. It consisted of 125 questions and has a time limit of two hours and fifteen minutes.
The exam consists of four areas:
Compensation/Wage & Hour – comprising 22% of the exam
Employment and Employee Relations – comprising 46% of the exam
Benefits and Leaves of Absence – comprising 20% of the exam
Health, Safety, and Workers Comp – comprising 12% of the exam
I memorized the definitions in the back of the SHRM study guide and I took and retook the quizzes at the back of each study section. At the first of December, I put the book away and focused just on taking practice tests. I took the practice test offered by HRCI and I found a great resource at HRCalifornia. HRCalifornia has a great practice test and a fantastic and informative website. I took advantage of their 15 day free trial and spent a great deal of time there learning things that were not covered by the SHRM study guide.
Those of you who have taken an HRCI test, know that feeling of relief when the screen pops up telling you you passed at the end of the 2 1/2 hours! What a great feeling! As with the SPHR exam, the California exam was so difficult, I thought I was surely flunking it as I was going along. But its important to trust yourself and your preparation and be confident throughout.
So now I proudly hold the SPHR-CA certification. There are only approximately 500 people in the US who do. I don’t know if I will ever need it but but now I have it in case I do. It gives me one more credential and expands my career opportunities should I ever need to look for another job or should a great executive HR job come my way again.
I highly recommend that you take the California certification for those who hold a PHR or an SPHR.