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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.

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 details SHRM certifications and a list of top Human Resource Certifications that can help you build a human resources career.

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 encountered these terms, whether in individuals’ professional profiles or during 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.

As 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. 

Read Also: UNOPS Human Resources Internship In Denmark

How much is an SHRM Certification?

Several factors affect how much you pay 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 want to go with the self-study version of the SHRM Learning System, 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, you will pay the exact full 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 usually run for 4 hours, for both levels, with 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 on a section. 

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

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

How can one maintain SHRM certification?

Once you are SHRM certified, you must recertify every three 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 participating in or attending several SHRM-authorized events. Recertifying with PDCs is the better option of the two. This is because it allows you opportunities to deepen your HR knowledge and skills and network with like-minded professionals worldwide. 

A 6-step guide on how to get your SHRM certification

1. Decide.

Ask yourself which top Human Resource Certification works best for you. 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 regard availability, time, commitment, and available financial resources.

2. Apply and schedule. 

Settle 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.

Read Also: UNOPS Human Resources Internship In Denmark

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 also receive your digital badge and name in the SHRM Certification Directory.

6. Recertify. 

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

Top 10 SHRM certifications in 2023

Looking to further your career in 2023? Here are the top 10 Human Resource Certifications you need to look out for:

1. Associate Professional in Human Resources (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 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.

Read More

Read Also: What Can I Do With a Human Resource Management Degree? Career & Salary

2. Professional in Human Resources (PHR)

This SHRM certification is the new standard for incoming HR officials 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 limited to human resource management within the U.S. 

For eligibility, you need at least four years of experience with a high school diploma, two years of 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.

Read More

3. Talent Management Practitioner

This particular Human Resource Certification is 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 helpful as an additional qualification.

Even with the demands of the modern workforce, with your TMP, you can build a firm hiring and retention framework within your organization.

This certification makes 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.

Read More

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.

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

The 3-hour multiple-choice exam covers 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 experience levels for a bachelor’s degree, 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.

Read More

5. SHRM Certified Professional (SHRM-CP)

As an SHRM-CP professional, you must understand policy implementation, 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 role.

If you want to get into the HR aspect of strategy and policymaking, 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 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.

Read More

Read Also: 35 Best Masters in Human Resources Programs | Online & Campus-Based

6. SHRM Senior Certified Professional (SHRM-SCP)

SHRM-SCP professional acts as 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 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.

Read More

7. One Week HR Manager

Are you seeking a top-starter certification to learn new HR skills or upgrade your 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 and how to score in those job interviews up until the fundamental HR methodology at your new workplace.

The package includes active recruitment and strategic HR planning for your future.

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

Read More

8. Certified Professional in Learning and Performance (CPLP)

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

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

This top Human Resource Certification stands out because it focuses on improving employee performance through hands-on training. 

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

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

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.

Read More

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 to upskill HR department heads into HR leaders and Executive HR Generalists. 

As a senior HRM professional, you can 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.

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

Read More

Read Also: Japanese Grant Aid for Human Resource Development Scholarship

10. Global Professional in Human Resources (GPHR)

This 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 launch careers as Certified Professional Coaches soon after.

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

Please visit the Certified Professional Coach website to learn more about this HR certification.

Read More

Which Certificates are most prevalent in 2023?

The PHR credential is the most popular Human Resource Certification Institute (HRCI). The SPHR comes second, surpassing the SHRM-CP certification, 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 2023 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 HRM?

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.

Is it hard to get SHRM certification?

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.

Does SHRM certification expire?

Undoubtedly, the higher you climb the HR professional ladder, the more Human Resource Certifications you acquire. Higher-level HR professionals are likelier to have an HR Certificate than juniors. HR certifications give you a boost in pay which varies depending on your credential, work location, and job level.

What are the benefits of getting a SHRM Certification?

Several 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.

What is the salary of a SHRM like?

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 can 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, essential 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 essential 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.




Ajah Excel is a team growth and performance expert with over nine years of experience in blogging and personal development.
He leads a team of 36 crazy, restless innovators with an enviable work culture at Silicon Africa Technologies Limited – a fast-rising tech firm from the SouthEast.
Excel is the founder of and WriterGig.
He is also the co-organizer of TEDx Ikenegbu and convener of Social Media Fest.
He is a vibrant learner who yearns to share his knowledge to educate and inspire young Africans.
He has a B.Tech in Information Management Technology with certifications in growth hacking, effective communication, leadership, team, and personal development, to mention a few.
Ajah Anayochukwu Excel is a passionate public speaker, creative writer, and brand storyteller.

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