Bird's eye view of an HR organization sitting at a conference table

A Guide to Professional HR Organizations

A key component of securing human resources jobs – jobs in any industry, for that matter – is networking. Individuals looking to begin or advance their human resources careers should strongly consider joining an organization just for HR professionals. By being active in an industry-specific association, you will make invaluable connections, have the opportunity to grow professionally through training and certification programs, and increase your credibility as an HR expert.

Not sure where to start? Check out this guide covering some of the top HR associations in the US, their member benefits, and certifications (if offered).


Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM)

SHRM is the world’s largest HR membership organization comprising professionals at all career levels. There are 575+ affiliated SHRM chapters (including Student Programs) in the US and subsidiary offices in China, India, and the United Arab Emirates. While SHRM membership does not automatically add you to your local SHRM chapter, it is highly beneficial to join both and build a network within your specific geographic area.

Member resources include HR Week e-newsletter, HR Magazine, comprehensive guidance in numerous HR topics and strategies, legal issues and public policy, and HR standards/competencies, research, metrics, and various templates/samples such as job descriptions, interview questions, and talent assessments. In addition to onsite and online educational programs, SHRM offers two formal certifications: SHRM Certified Professional (SHRM-CP) and SHRM Senior Certified Professional (SHRM-SCP).


group of HR professionals meeting together


HR Certification Institute (HRCI)

HRCI is a global provider of advanced credentials for HR professionals. Certifications granted by HRCI include Professional in Human Resources (PHR), Senior Professional in Human Resources (SPHR), Global Professional in Human Resources (GPHR), Human Resource Management Professional (HRMP), and special California designations, PHR-CA and SPHR-CA. HRCI provides comprehensive resources for exam preparation, application, and recertification including handbooks and certified community blogs and events.


Human Capital Institute (HCI)

HCI is a talent management network of HR practitioners, Fortune 1000 and Global 2000 corporations, government agencies, consultants, and business schools. As described on their website, HCI aggregates “open-source human capital best practices from prominent companies, thought leaders, and academic research.” Community Membership (free) and Corporate Membership options are available. Community Membership benefits include access to live webcasts, a daily news feed, all HCI research, and four online talent communities: HR Strategy and Analytics, Talent Acquisition, Learning and Development, and Management and Leadership.


Take Your HR Career to the Next Level



Known as the “Total Rewards Association,” WorldatWork is an HR association for professionals and organizations with a particular focus on compensation, benefits, work-life balance, and total rewards. There are more than 70K members and subscribers around the world, and more than 95% of Fortune 500 companies employ a WorldatWork member. By joining WorldatWork, you receive discounts on education, training, conferences, webinars, events, and books, access to exclusive monthly tips and 1.5K+ total rewards research topics, subscriptions to workspan magazine, and various resources, tools, and templates.

WorldatWork Society of Certified Professionals is the certifying body for the Certified Compensation Professional (CCP), Advanced Certified Compensation Professional (ACCP), Master Certified Compensation Professional (MCCP), Certified Benefits Professional (CBP), Global Remuneration Professional (GRP), Work-Life Certified Professional (WLCP), Certified Sales Compensation Professional (CSCP), and Certified Executive Compensation Professional (CECP) designations.


National Human Resources Association (NHRA)

The mission of NHRA, a volunteer- and affiliate partner-backed organization, is to aid HR individuals of all levels by providing professional development programs, opportunities, and support and function as a “career partner.” By joining NHRA, members are automatically included in their local chapter at no extra cost and have complete access to the resource website, NHRA’s Career Center for job or candidate searching, and a myriad of training and educational events.


happy HR professionals networking at an event


Association for Talent Development (ATD)

ATD, formerly the American Society of Training Directors (ASTD), is a global association of talent development professionals working in public and private companies in every industry. ATD’s vision is to “create a world that works better” and mission is to “empower professionals to develop knowledge and skills successfully.” Exclusive content, webcasts, reports, magazines, e-newsletters, and interactive tools are just a few of the benefits ATD affords its members.

Two levels of membership are available, Professional and Professional Plus, and local chapters as well as numerous specialized practice communities also exist. ATD members may achieve the Certified Professional in Learning and Performance (CPLP) credential.


International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans (IFEBP)

A nonprofit organization, IFEBP provides education, information, research, and networking opportunities to thousands of compensation specialists. Corporate/Single Employer, Public Employee, Service Provider, and Multiemployer sectors are welcome to join and benefits range from access to ACA University, Benefits magazine, resume posting services, US Legislative Tracker, surveys, sample documents, and more.

Multiple US, Canadian, and International certificate programs are available such as Administrators Masters Program (AMP), Global Benefits Management, and Wharton Investment Courses. Additionally, IFEBP has a Certified Employee Benefit Specialist (CEBS) program which includes Group Benefits Associate (GBA), Retirement Plans Associate (RPA), and Compensation Management Specialist (CMS) specialization areas.


Society of Corporate Compliance and Ethics (SCCE)

If regulatory compliance is an area of interest, consider joining the SCCE. Their 4.5K members enjoy compliance-specific training (including books, videos, academies, and conferences), certifications, networking, publications, and other resources. Individual, group, student/graduate, and corporate membership options are offered.

SCCE’s Compliance Certification Board (CCB) grants 7 certifications: Certified in Healthcare Compliance (CHC), Certified in Healthcare Privacy Compliance (CHPC), Certified in Healthcare Research Compliance (CHRC), Certified in Healthcare Compliance Fellow (CHC-F), Certified Compliance and Ethics Professional (CCEP), Certified Compliance and Ethics Professional - International (CCEP-I), and Certified Compliance and Ethics Professional Fellow (CCEP-F).

by: Natalie Winzer, iHire
October 01, 2015

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