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Human Resource Management vs CIPD qualifications separately

Hi all. 

I know this question has been asked a lot, but I need some advice more tailored to my situation - I'm also slightly confused at the qualifications and after extensive research, I can't seem to find a clear answer. 

A little bit of background: 

I have a BSc in Sociology (2:1). I graduated in May 2018. In May 2018 (like a few weeks before graduating) I got a job as a HR Administrator for a well-known medium sized company. I stayed there for 4 months before moving over to HR Assistant at a university. I've been there ever since. I don't have a ton of experience but I do really enjoy my job and have been able to experience different aspects of HR from these two roles. 

I don't have any specific HR qualifications, my degree isn't entirely relevant & no CIPD membership as of yet. I've been looking more and more into gaining qualifications now that I have a little experience in the role and know for sure that this is the career for me. 

Here's where the confusion begins: 

- If I were to go the CIPD route - would I need to do Level 3 to progress to 5 & 7 despite already having a degree? 

- If I were to go the Masters route - do the CIPD accredited courses mean that after completing the course, I'll be at Level 7 and can become an Associate Member? Or will I still need to do more? 

Money wise - If I had to do all 3 qualifications, it would cost very nearly a similar amount as doing the Masters - from what I can see from the fees online, but I would have to fund myself? Also, how long would it take to complete these? From what I've seen, it can take 3-4 years to do all 3 qualifications if they were done back to back. Versus the 1 year a Masters would take. 

Am I missing something? Have I got all this correct? 

I would ask around at work, but I've been off sick for a little while and don't know when I'll be back in. I wanted to do some research now. 

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  • You haven't been in HR very long (less than a year) and you are still learning the ropes. Understandably you are still at a quite junior level and will remain there for a little while.

    The CIPD qualifications are not linear - ie you do not need to complete 3 to do 5 to do 7. Each one stands on its own merits. However they cover different things and take a different approach. While not always followed they are partly designed (as should all good development) to compliment the stage a person is in their career. So L3 is more designed for people starting out , L5 when you have progressed a little and L7 when you are in more of a leadership role (and all terms are relative). Your degree isn't really that relevant - (in the nicest way possible) in that whilst it gives you the skills to learn it doesn't equip you with the skills and knowledge of being a HR practitioner.

    Students should (IMO) ask themselves a questions - why am I doing this course? Is it to "collect" the badge or is it to gain the skills necessary. If its the former then jump as high as you can as soon as you can and treat it as an academic exercise. If its the latter (and this is the route I believe in) then start at the level where you lack the skills and complete that before OVER TIME progressing to the next level.

    Most Masters level courses that are accredited enable joining the CIPD. But very often we see people on these forums who have taken this route and bemoan their inability to get a HR job as they are over qualified for their experience and when they were doing the course they weren't able to use real examples or to get the most out of the learning.
  • In reply to Keith:

    Hi Keith,

    Thanks for your reply and your clarification about the qualification stages.

    My main plan (and please do let me know if this isn't a good plan!) is to get all the qualifications as high as I can and then work the experience up at my current institution. I love the university I work at and they're really supportive and encourage me to shadow the Business Partners and learn more about the different roles within HR.

    You're right, I don't have a lot of experience. I mainly do admin right now, but at my previous company, I did disciplinaries, inductions and payroll. And was much more involved in employment tribunals and other things that I'm no longer involved in.

    I'm definitely the type of person who enjoys learning so the Masters is right up my street, I just need to know that it will be beneficial and will allow me to have the comparable CIPD qualifications to progress in the future.

    It's not entirely about 'collecting the badge' but it's also about learning the theory and underlying principles of HR as well as getting the hands on experience. I plan on doing it part-time over 2 years and continue to work full-time. I'm not willing to give up my job, I was lucky to get it in the first place!

    I just don't want my qualifications to limit me when it comes to moving on and looking for other jobs in the future. I'm content with where I am now and hope to progress at this company/university, rather than leave.

    I hope this makes sense.
  • In reply to Anthea:

    Hi Anthea

    We have had a few threads where people have high-level qualifications but struggled to get interviews or to get job offers and something that has been commented on is the mis-match between level of qualification and level of experience making it harder for recruiters to see where someone could fit into there structure. If your current employer can offer you a career structure so that you can get to a job level that is in keeping with a masters, then go for it. If you would be looking outside for promotion opportunities, this might not be to your best advantage.

    As someone who took a career break to get a master's degree, I can tell you I found it hugely rewarding. However, I had 15+ years' work experience to bring to it. There were people on my course who had considerably less experience and I don't think they got as much out of it as I did.
  • In reply to Elizabeth:

    Hi Elizabeth,

    Thanks for your reply.

    I do plan on staying with my company for a while and I do get a lot of support from them, they're keen to help us improve, learn and succeed. As they're a university, we have access to a lot of training courses and everyone working in the department is helpful and includes the Assistants where they can. I'm content with this university and would be happy to stay there for the next 4/5 years at the very least. Whether this is enough to progress to HR Advisor I'm not sure, but I'm positive I can gain insight into higher roles. There are plenty of times where I've had very little as my areas have been quieter than others and have been able to shadow the Advisors & Business Partners who will explain things and teach what they can.

    Please let me know if you think this is sufficient to be considered for future promotions with 6-8 years experience as Assistant and hopefully Advisor.
  • Hi Anthea
    My degree was Psychology but I have nearly finished my HR Masters which is a Level 7.
    Let me know if you want to chat!
  • In reply to Anthea:

    Hi Anthea, both Keith and Elizabeth have offered you great advice. In addition they've pointed out that we get lots of posts on this Community from people with high level academic qualifications but limited ability to progress due to employers expecting more practical experience.

    One alternative you might like to consider before you start making study plans is to think about your own CPD for the next year. What will serve you best and how you can develop that - which may involve alternatives to academic study.
    You'll find information about CPD here: www.cipd.co.uk/.../cpd