Editor’s note: This blog post was originally written by Bridget Quigg in 2011 and updated in August 2018.
If you work in HR and want to find a way to advance your career, you’ve probably looked into some certifications like the SHRM-CP and the PHP from HRCI. But have you also considered earning a Certified Compensation Professional (CCP) certificate? This certification, offered by World at Work, requires you to pass nine tests and, as their website states, is a “mark of expertise and excellence in all areas of compensation.”
Although it is far less common for HR professionals to earn a CCP (and it’s not the easiest process), it could be well worth the pursuit.
PayScale recently found that someone who has a CCP can expect to see a pay boost of 9.7 percent, compared to someone who does not.
This was measured through statistical analysis that accounted for the effects of other factors on pay (such as years of experience, specific job title, location and so on). In other words, when there are two HR professionals at the same job level, doing the same job in similar work environments, the one with a CCP is earning 9.7 percent more in base pay compared to the one without the certification.
This analysis was based on a sample of over 100,000 HR professionals in the United states who responded to PayScale’s online salary survey as early as 2003 and as late as May 2018.
What the CCP Process Is Really Like, According to One PayScaler
Some PayScalers have gone through the process to earn their CCPs. We took a moment to talk to one of them about what motivated her to pursue the CCP and what it was like to go through the process.
We spoke with Laura Beth, an implementation specialist at PayScale, who was in the process of earning a CCP.
Q: Tell us about your background. Give us an overview of what you’ve done in the past and how you got to where you are at PayScale.
A: Here at PayScale, I’m a member of the Implementation team. My job is to teach HR and compensation professionals how to use our compensation management platform. This involves everything from getting their employee information into their compensation management system, how to analyze their data, set up a pay structure and more.
Prior to PayScale, I’ve worked in recruiting. I was a recruiter when I first became interested in the compensation side of things. In the first recruiting role I ever had, I was given very strict guidelines on how much to offer people. My supervisor basically said, “Here is the box and here is what you can offer candidates. If they have this education level and this experience level, they get this amount. If they have less education and less experience, they get this amount.” So, that’s when I became really interested in how a compensation plan is put together.
Q: When did you decide you were going to pursue a Certified Compensation Professional designation (CCP)?
A: I think it was my second week at PayScale when I was informed that the company was going to pay for us to get our CCPs. Our CEO Mike Metzger felt that it was important that PayScale employees have the knowledge we need to be strategic partners to our customers, to help them not just complete compensation projects, but also make sure that their compensation programs are set up in a way that helps them achieve their business goals.
Q: What was your personal motivation to get the CCP certification? What’s your hope for your career once you have this?
A: I felt like this will give me a better understanding of compensation overall, a better understanding of PayScale products and how people can use our products to implement compensation programs that fit their company’s needs.
Q: What is the process to get your CCP?
A: For me, the process takes nine months; I am studying one topic a month and then taking one exam a month. Each test is quite long, with 110-160 questions, all multiple choice. You’re given about four hours to complete an exam. For an individual who has extreme test anxiety, it wouldn’t be a fun process. But, it’s not so bad. What’s great is that I’ve got time built into my workday to study for the exams.
Q: How high do you need to score on each test to pass it?
A: You have to get a 75 percent on the test to pass it. You just have to pass them.
Q: Do you think that earning a CCP is valuable? Would you encourage people to do it?
A: I definitely think it is valuable and would encourage those who want to focus on the compensation side of HR to pursue it. You learn the basics and you learn the intricacies. Compensation is hugely important in any business not only because comp is a large expense, but because getting comp right is critical for hiring the right people and retaining them.
There are multiple pieces; you need to know how to work data, for sure. Then, you also need to think about how to weigh the various inputs from different stakeholders (hiring managers, executives) to make sound business decisions. To have the skills to be able to do the day-to-day work of comp and the strategic elements can give you a leg up in your career. One more thing to consider is whether you can get your employer to pay to have you become CCP certified.
Q: Any last advice to those considering a CCP?
A: Figure out a study plan and be open to the different types of methodologies within the World at Work CCP. Try to think of situations and companies where you could apply those methodologies or different approaches to compensation. You have to know how you learn best. World at Work does provide a certification prep course for those who want that extra support. Last but not least, keep in mind that your certification does expire. You need to earn 12 recertification credits every three years to keep your certification current.
For more details on what it takes to earn the CCP certification, check out the World at Work’s website.
If you’re looking for resources on how to establish a new compensation plan or how to upgrade an existing one, check out the following resources:
- 5 Easy Steps to a Smarter Compensation Plan
- 3 Steps to Get Buy In for Your New Compensation Plan
- 4 Tips for Creating an Incentive Plan That Works
- The Exec’s Guide to Modern Compensation Software