What is SHRM Certification? Top Human Resource Certifications to Further Your Career

SHRM also known as the Society of Human Resources Management is a nonprofit professional membership organization designed to promote, educate, and connect HR professionals with each other.

Apart from meeting your educational needs and top Human Resource Certifications, SHRM acts as your networking hub in the HR industry. It also lobbies Congress on behalf of human resource and labor management interests.

This article gives a detailed information about SHRM certifications and a list of top Human Resource Certifications that can help you build a human resources caree.

Read on!

What does SHRM-CP stand for?

SHRM offers two paid education certifications, that is, SHRM-CP and SHRM-SCP. If you are dealing with HR, I am sure you have come across these terms, whether in individuals’ professional profiles or in the course of your lectures. 

SHRM-CP is the first level in the SHRM Certification and the CP stands for Certified Professional. This certification enables you to act at the operational level of human resources, providing you the basic training in HR aspects like technology, data collection, policy implementation, and compliance.

SHRM-SCP on the other hand is more advanced and the SCP stands for Senior Certified Professional. This certification is tailored for senior and executive-level human resource roles.

Like you will notice, unlike the SHRM-CP, the SCP focuses more on strategic aspects of HR such as policy creation, retention, engagement, and workforce planning. 

How much is an SHRM certification?

Several factors affect how much you end up paying for your SHRM certification but the costs range between $1000 and $1500.

These are price ranges affected by factors like being a member of SHRM or serving in the U.S. military.

To sit for your exams, you require an additional $270 to $475. If you are looking to go the self-study version of the SHRM Learning System, then your costs will range between $725 (for SHRM members and those in the military) and $950 (for non-SHRM and non-military candidates).

Additional fees may arise if you are rescheduling or transferring your exam but if you need to retake the exam, then you will pay the same full exam fee. Check out more details on SHRM certification exam windows and fees.

Is the SHRM test hard?

The big question is, just how easy or hard are the SHRM exams? How soon are you able to acquire the certification? The exams mainly comprise Knowledge- and Competency-based questions.

Exams are delivered by computer and they usually run for 4 hours, for both levels, with a total of 160 multiple-choice questions.

There is a countdown timer on the screen for the candidate, with each section’s timer independent of the other section.

Once your time for a particular section runs out, you automatically move to the next and no minutes get rolled over in case you spend less time for a section. 

However, talking of ease, the top Human Resource Certification exam has a passing score standard normally between 120 to 200.

For you to pass your exam, you receive a maximum score of 200. To give you an idea, here are some past percentage scores of examinees across the world who successfully earned their SHRM credentials.

How can one maintain SHRM certification?

Once you are SHRM certified, you need to recertify every 3 years from the date you received your certification.

Below is a simple 2-step guide on how to go about this:

  • First, is by reapplying and paying to retake the SHRM exam before your 3-year certification lapses.
  • Second, is by recertifying with Professional Development Credits (PDCs).
    For the PDCs you earn 60 recertification credits by taking part in or attending several SHRM-authorized events. Recertifying with PDCs is the better option of the two. This is because it allows you opportunities not only to deepen your HR knowledge and skills but also network with like-minded professionals from across the world. 
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A 6-step guide on how to get your SHRM certification

1. Decide.

Ask yourself which top Human Resource Certification works for you best. Find out whether your SHRM certification suits your career goals.

Determine your exam level and validate your eligibility to sit the exam. Find out how ready you are in terms of availability, time, commitment, and available financial resources.

2. Apply and schedule. 

Settle on a preferred date to take your test. Is it during the May-July period or the December-February period?

Then apply once the application window opens. Schedule your exam at a test center or test remotely through remote invigilation.

3. Prepare. 

Start with the SHRM BoCK. Then add the SHRM Learning System preparation options whether instructor-led or self-study. Join an SHRM local chapter study group then take on additional resources like SHRM Preparation Webinars or the SHRM Certification E-Book.

4. Test. 

Take the 4-hour exam with a total of 160 multiple-choice questions. These will test behavioral competencies and functional areas in SHRM.

But remember, the passing score is 200 and your results are immediately communicated to you.

5. Receive certification. 

You will receive your complimentary digital certificate and this now allows you to use the SHRM-CP or SHRM-SCP designation letter on your professional profile.

You can as well receive your digital badge and have your name listed in the SHRM Certification Directory.

6. Recertify. 

After receiving your SHRM certification, it is important to always remember to recertify every 3 years since your certification (as outlined in the 2-step section above).

Top 10 SHRM certifications in 2022

Looking to further your career in 2022? Here are the top 10 Human Resource Certifications you need to look out for:

1. Associate Professional in Human Resource (aPHR)

The aPHR certification targets those going into the human resources field. The 2 hours 15 minutes exam tests fundamental knowledge, therefore, does not require the candidates to have any professional experience.

It consists of 100 multiple-choice questions that cover recruitment and selection, human resource development and retention, employee relations, compensation and benefits, and HR operations. 

The exam fee is $300 and a $100 application fee. As an individual beginning your HR career, you are encouraged to start with the Associate Professional in Human Resource credential to prove your foundational understanding of HR.

2. Professional in Human Resources (PHR)

This SHRM certification is the new standard for incoming HR officials and is issued by the HR Certification Institute (HRCI).

It targets those handling general HR functions and program implementation while ensuring compliance with applicable employment laws and regulations.

However, the PHR certification is only limited to human resource management within the U.S. 

For eligibility, you need to have at least four years experience with a high school diploma, or two years experience with a bachelor’s degree, or one year of professional HR experience with a master’s degree.

The PHR exam runs for three hours, covering employee and labor relations, HR development, risk management, compensation and benefits, workforce planning, and employment and business management and strategy.

The single exam costs $395 and an additional $100 application fee. Find out more from the PHR certification Institute.

3. Talent Management Practitioner

This particular Human Resource Certification acts as an alternative to the standard HR certification.

It entails a 2-hour exam that targets fresh HR talent seeking to build a career in talent acquisition and management.

On top of your graduate degree in HR, the Talent Management Practitioner certification offered by the Talent Management Institute is useful as an additional qualification.

Even with the demands of the modern workforce, with your TMP at hand, you are able to build a firm hiring and retention framework within your organization.

This certification creates in you, an industry leader in talent management by equipping you with skills to develop talent management strategies, practices, and models for any business. It will cost you $625 to acquire the certification.

Please visit the Talent Management Practitioner platform for further guidance.

4. Senior Professional in Human Resources (SPHR)

The SPHR covers similar topics as the PHR but focuses on strategy and policymaking. This top Human Resource Certification demonstrates your mastery in human resource management.

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The course is recommended for HR leaders in charge of formulating strategic plans for human resource needs, with a broader view of business functions.

The 3-hour multiple-choice exam covers areas of learning and development, leadership and strategy, talent planning and acquisition, and employee relations and engagement.

Unlike the PHR, the SPHR eligibility requirements are a bit higher with increasing levels of experience for a bachelor’s degree or a high school diploma, or at least four years of professional HR experience and a master’s degree.

The certification requires a $495 exam fee and a $100 application fee.

5. SHRM Certified Professional (SHRM-CP)

As an SHRM-CP professional, you must understand policy implementation and strategy, and service delivery.

SHRM-CP is a 4-hour course provided by the acclaimed SHRM. The Certified Professional certification covers all core competencies of a modern HR professional working in a corporate HR role.

If you are looking to get into the HR aspect of strategy and policymaking, then SHRM-CP is your key. 

Your eligibility for this top Human Resource Certification is three or four years of experience if you have less than a bachelor’s degree. 

The exam consists of 160 multiple-choice questions testing both your knowledge and situational judgment skills.

SHRM-CP is open during spring and winter, with SHRM members paying $300 and $400 for non-members. The SHRM Certified Professional platform provides more details on the SHRM-SCP certification.

6. SHRM Senior Certified Professional (SHRM-SCP)

SHRM-SCP professional acts in the capacity of an HR Lead and has experience handling employee performance metrics and alignment with key performance indicators (KPIs). SHRM-SCP is a top Human Resource Certification acquired from the Society for Human Resource Management.

The 4-hour exam covers interpersonal communication, business, people, organization, leadership, and the workplace. 

In terms of eligibility, as a candidate, you need six to seven years of experience if you have less than a bachelor’s degree.

However, once you clear the SHRM-CP fundamental certification, you automatically meet the eligibility requirements for the SHRM-SCP exam.

Meanwhile, the other requirements for SCP are similar to those of SHRM-CP. Get more details from the SHRM Certified Professional website.

7. One Week HR Manager

Are you looking for a top starter certification to learn new HR skills or upgrade your existing portfolio? HR University offers a 7-day certification program that targets new and established HR professionals. The course looks deeper into the essentials of the HR Manager position.

You get taught how to start and quickly develop your career as a professional in the field. Further offering you insights on how to get hired as a manager, how to score in those job interviews up until the fundamental HR methodology at your new workplace.

Active recruitment and strategic HR planning for your future are part of the package.

All this falls under 50 lectures and having interviews with HR professionals among others, as listed on the One Week HR Manager website. The certification costs $199.

8. Certified Professional in Learning and Performance (CPLP)

The Association for Talent Development (ATD) offers both the CPLP and the Associate Professional in Talent Development (APTD) credentials.

The 3-hour CPLP exam is an advanced course set for Human Resource Managers looking to gain expertise in training and development.

What stands out for this top Human Resource Certification is its focus on improving employee performance through hands-on training. 

As an HR professional with a CPLP in hand, you are guaranteed expertise in change management, learning technologies, coaching, learning model development, instructional design among other key areas.

To be eligible, you need four to five years of talent development experience based on your education level.

The two-part assessment comprises knowledge and a skills application exam. As an ATD member, you pay a $900 registration fee against $1,250 for non-members. For more details, please see the CPLP handbook.

9. Strategic HR Leadership (SHRL)

SHRL is a more advanced certification, designed with the HR team management and leadership in mind.

The Human Capital Institute offers a 2-day program that is tailored to upskill HR department heads into HR leaders and Executive HR Generalists. 

As a senior HRM professional, you are able to gain further insight into employee engagement and development strategy.

The course entails team performance management, improvement, and inter-department communication. 

If you are a senior HR official seeking to sharpen your skills in leadership roles, the Strategic HR Leadership certification should be your target.

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The SHRL Certification costs $995. Learn more about the HR leadership credential from the Strategic HR Leadership website.

10. Global Professional in Human Resources (GPHR)

This particular top Human Resource Certification is tailored for HR professionals working in the global marketplace as they prove their expert knowledge of multinational responsibilities and policies. 

GPHR is a 3-hour exam that covers global talent management, workplace culture, risk management, and compliance, global mobility, strategic global human resources, and total rewards.

The exam comprises a set of 140 multiple-choice questions. To be eligible, you should have completed two to four years of HR work experience depending on your education level.

The exam fee is $495 and a $100 application fee.

Here is your bonus:

11. Certified Professional Coach (CPC)

The CPC Human Resource Certification targets coaching and training HR professionals who can soon after launch careers as Certified Professional Coaches.

A credential that is offered by the Institute for Professional Excellence in Coaching (iPEC), one of the largest ICF-accredited coaching training schools globally.

To learn more about this HR certification, please visit the Certified Professional Coach website.

Which Certificates are most prevalent in 2022?

The PHR currently stands as the most popular credential from the Human Resource Certification Institute (HRCI). The SPHR then comes second, surpassing the SHRM-CP certification which was the second most popular credential as of 2020 As we speak, the two have swapped places in the modern HR marketplace. However, the SHRM-CP credential still takes the lead compared to the SHRM-SCP certification.

Below is a sample breakdown of the skill demand in the 2022 HR market for the top Human Resource Certifications:

CertificationSimply HiredLinkedIn Jobs Total
Professional in Human Resources (PHR)2,8652,1244,989
Senior Professional in Human Resources (SPHR)2,0031,6493,652
SHRM Certified Professional (SHRM-CP)1,0801,2402,320
SHRM Senior Certified Professional (SHRM-SCP)7448251,569
Certified Professional in Learning and Performance (CPLP)128142270

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Here is a list of the most frequently asked questions in line with top Human Resource Certifications today. 

What is the difference between Human Resource Management and SHRM Certification Review?

HRM is an introductory program to human resources, providing you with a general overview of all HR components. It is typically meant for those starting their career in HR. An SHRM Certification on the other hand, involves more in-depth concepts and directly follows the SHRM Learning System. It is designed for individuals with three to six years of experience in a human resource role.

Do you need to have completed the Human Resource Management Certificate Program for you to enrol in the SHRM Certification Review Program?

No. The HRM Certification is not a must-have before enrolling for the SHRM Certification. Individuals are to decide which program best fits their skill set.

What impact do these HR Certifications have on compensation and career trajectory for professionals in the U.S.?

It is without a doubt that the higher you climb the HR professional ladder, the more Human Resource Certifications you acquire. In that, higher level HR professionals are more likely to have a HR Certificate compared to their juniors. HR certifications definitely give you a boost in pay which varies depending on your credential, your work location and your job level.

Why should you get certified in Human Resources?

A number of benefits come with professional certification in HR. First, a top Human Resource Certification makes you more competitive in the job market. Secondly, these certifications connect you to professional networks and organizations that offer resources to members. Thirdly, you get equipped with necessary continuing education credits as you pursue further studies.

Coming in fourth are the salary compensations you seek after Human Resource Certification. Due to your increased knowledge and expertise in the profession, you are more likely to attract advanced earnings. Lastly, you are able to give back by improving your organization’s capacity through ongoing learning.


All said and done, with the ever-changing Human Resource marketplace, there is more demand for certified HR professionals.

The rankings of the above-listed top Human Resource Certifications keep changing depending on the skill demand year after another.

It is therefore important to keep your ears to the ground to effectively respond to the skill demand and identify gaps that you can use to define your niche.

Certifications are important if you seek to remain relevant in the HR field. Remember, it is better to be prepared for an opportunity you don’t have than to have an opportunity you are not prepared for.



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