10+ Best HR Certifications For Beginners & HR Professionals
Those seeking promotion in the Human Resources field can seize an opening to demonstrate relevant, practical experience. People are increasingly deciding against pursuing a four-year college degree for a variety of reasons, the most common being financial constraints and time constraints.
Moreover, despite the abundance of degrees, classroom instruction can become out of date over time. Continuing education on a smaller, more consistent scale is the more productive option because the laws and policies within Human Resources, in particular, change at a much faster rate.
When it comes to learning how to handle complex situations, nothing beats getting your hands dirty. Because of the importance of hands-on experience in HR, many companies are now looking past academic credentials to hire new staff. It can be overwhelming to decide which certification is best for you when there are so many to choose from.
Fortunately, there is a wide variety of organizations to join and credentials to earn to accommodate everyone's unique circumstances and aspirations. We recommend you begin by prioritizing your options based on your level of expertise, available resources, financial constraints, and desired field. We have compiled a list of the top 10 HR certifications to help narrow down your options. These credentials will help you stand out from the crowd and advance your career.
Certifications vs. Further Education
Perspectives from HR Experts Human Resource Manager Karli Larson
Being an HR professional who has read thousands of resumes, I may be a little biased when I say that anyone thinking about furthering their education should give serious consideration to pursuing HR certifications instead. If you look at job postings and talk to other HR professionals, you will learn that experience and certification from a reputable organization are highly valued by employers.
Certifications in Human Resources Management from SHRM
HR Certifications from SHRM:
Over the past four years, the "Certified Professional" designation has become increasingly common. The Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) has played a significant role in this development since 2015, when it first began offering its own certifications (the SHRM-CP and SHRM-SCP). With over 300,000 members in 165 countries, SHRM has been a voice for the HR industry for nearly seven decades.
Priority One: SHRM-Certified Professional
Two, a SHRM Senior Certified Professional® (SHRM-SCP®).
SHRM reached out to major corporations, academic institutions, and more than 35,000 HR professionals around the world as part of its global research. Based on their research, SHRM developed a certification process that is unlike any other by including both technical knowledge and behavioural competencies (SHRM-CP and SHRM-SCP).
The HR certification program assesses skills in the areas of human resource competencies, people, organization, and the workplace. An HR professional's ability to put HR theory into practice is evaluated by the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) certification. It is one of the first of its kind to place such an emphasis on real-world human resources content, including the teaching and testing of both competencies and knowledge.
There are a total of 160 questions spread out over 4 hours, including 95 multiple-choice knowledge items and 65 situational judgment items, all part of the certification process. Live remote proctoring allows candidates the convenience of taking exams at home.
The cost of getting certified ranges from $300 to $475, depending on your membership status and when you sign up. Organizations may provide group certifications through the use of team delivery methods.
There is a wide range of educational and professional experience thresholds for the SHRM-CP credential.
If your degree is lower than a Bachelor's but you're studying human resources, you'll need to have worked in the field for at least three years.
If you don't have a Bachelor's degree and aren't studying human resources, you'll need to have worked in HR for at least four years.
Bachelor's degree in human resources required; minimum 1 year of experience in HR.
Those without a degree in human resources are required to work for at least two years in a related field.
Graduates in human resources need only have work experience in the field to qualify.
Non-HR graduate degrees require at least one year of relevant work experience in HR.
Those without a Bachelor's degree in HR are expected to have worked in the field for at least six years.
If you don't have a Bachelor's degree in human resources or aren't enrolled in an HR-related program, you'll need at least seven years of experience in the field.
Bachelor's degree in human resources plus 4 years of experience in the field is preferred.
The standard is 5 years of HR experience for those with a Bachelor's degree in a field other than HR.
Three years of experience in HR work are required for those with a graduate degree in human resources.
Those without a graduate degree in human resources are required to work for four years in a related field.
HR professionals who work in policy and strategy implementation, stakeholder and employee relations, HR service delivery, and/or operational HR function management can benefit from taking the SHRM-CP exam. Certified professionals have a positive impact on their coworkers and employees because of the information, skills, and perspectives they bring to the table. The SHRM-CP and SHRM-SCP credentials are valuable and applicable around the world because they are based on a unified SHRM Body of Competency and Knowledge (SHRM BoCK). Professionals who have earned this credential will be able to put their acquired knowledge, skills, and competencies to use in any of their organization's global locations.
HR Certifications from the Human Resources Certification Institute (HRCI®)
HR Certifications by the HR Certification sInitute: An HR professional who has earned a credential from HR Certification Institute (HRCI®) has demonstrated mastery of HR best practices and has the experience, expertise, and credentials to help their organization reduce risk and improve performance. There are a wide variety of HRCI credentials available that are suitable for professionals of varying levels of experience.
Thirdly, the Human Resources Associate Professional (aPHR)
The Associate in Human Resources (aPHR) credential is geared toward both newcomers to the HR field and experienced professionals who wish to deepen their understanding of people management.
The aPHR certification exam assesses knowledge in the following areas: human resource management (38%), employee relations (16%), recruitment and selection (15%), compensation and benefits (14%), human resource development and retention (12%), and health, safety, and security (8%).
There are a total of 100 scored questions (mostly multiple choice) and 25 practice questions on the certification exam, which takes a total of 2 hours and 15 minutes to complete. This is a computerized test that can be taken at a Pearson VUE testing centre or online with OnVUE. There is a $100 application fee in addition to the $300 exam fee.
This is a knowledge-based certification, so prior HR experience is not required.
Candidates can benefit from learning about the laws, regulations, and policies that affect the organization, as well as the tactical and operational tasks involved in workforce management and the HR function. They will be familiar with all aspects of hiring a new employee, such as legal considerations, candidate acquisition, screening, and orientation. Gain expertise in areas of total rewards such as employee compensation and benefits, fielding employee inquiries, and resolving claims in accordance with policies and the law. Experts in the field will compile information on how to best train employees and help them grow professionally. They will be familiar with the techniques used by businesses to keep an eye on employee satisfaction, productivity, and loyalty. They'll gain an understanding of how to meet the needs of both the business and their employees. Finally, they will learn about the policies, laws, and procedures that contribute to a risk-free workplace through risk mitigation.
Human Resources Certified Professional (PHR)
The PHR credential is highly valued by employers and is a proven path to success in the HR industry. Gaining this certification demonstrates to employers that you have mastered the technical and operational aspects of HR management, as well as compliance with applicable U.S. laws and regulations, which is essential for climbing the corporate ladder. The PHR is designed for the HR professional with program implementation experience, a strong tactical/logistical focus, reporting responsibilities limited to the HR department rather than the entire organization, and accountability to another HR professional within the organization.
The Professional in Human Resources certification exam assesses candidates' knowledge in the following areas: talent planning and acquisition (16%), total rewards (15%), learning and development (10%), and employee and labour relations (39%).
The certification process includes taking an exam consisting of 90 scored questions (mostly multiple-choice) and 25 practice questions, with a total time limit of 2 hours. The test is administered via computer at a Pearson VUE testing centre or remotely via OnVUE. There is a $100 application fee in addition to the $395 exam fee. After passing the exam, the PHR credential is good for three years. Candidates must earn 60 recertification credits within a three-year period or retake the exam to keep their PHR certification current.
Candidates must meet one of the following prerequisites before taking the exam: requirements of either a Master's degree or higher and one year of HR experience, or two years of HR experience and a Bachelor's degree, or four years of HR experience and a Master's degree.
Advantages Trained experts will know how to use data about their workplace and industry to set standards, sway decisions, and limit exposure to danger. They will find, entice, and hire the best people possible while adhering to all applicable federal laws. Through their work in program implementation and evaluation, internal consultation, and data provision, they will aid in the organization's learning and development efforts. They will gain knowledge of how to administer benefit and compensation plans legally. The ability to manage, monitor, and/or advocate for legally compliant programs and policies that affect the employee experience across the employee lifecycle is a key benefit of this certification.
5. SPHR® Senior Certified Professional in Human Resources
Earning the SPHR credential shows that you understand the big picture of human resource management in the United States. This certification is aimed at strategic HR professionals whose duties lie more in policymaking than in day-to-day administration. SPHR professionals are highly sought after by employers because of their demonstrated ability to take responsibility for HR department objectives, their comprehensive understanding of all HR-related disciplines, and their awareness of business issues beyond HR.
The SPHR certification exam is divided into sections assessing candidates' knowledge in the following areas:
40% leadership and strategy, 20% employee relations and engagement, 16% talent planning and acquisition, 12% learning and development, and 12% total rewards.
You will be given 2 hours and 30 minutes to complete 115 scored questions (mostly multiple choice) and 25 practice questions as part of the certification process. The test can be taken in person at a Pearson VUE testing centre, or online with OnVUE, at the examinee's convenience. The total cost of the exam is $495, plus a $100 application fee. After passing the exam, your SPHR certification will remain active for three years. Candidates who wish to keep their certification active must either earn 60 recertification credits within three years or retake the certification exam. Fifteen of the required sixty credits for recertification must be in business management and strategy.
Qualifications: Applicants need to meet at least one of the following: a Master's degree or higher and four years of HR experience; a Bachelor's degree and five years of HR experience; or seven years of HR experience in a professional setting.
Advantages: Accredited professionals will learn to steer the HR department by shaping policy, influencing management practices, keeping an eye on potential threats, and more. They'll know how to plan ahead for the organization's talent needs, from attracting and engaging new talent to providing effective training and retaining current workers. To attract, reward, and retain top talent, they will know how to track the results of various compensation and benefit plans. In addition, they will be equipped to create and/or track initiatives like diversity and inclusion plans, safety and security initiatives, and labour strategies that have a direct impact on employee satisfaction and productivity.
Perspectives from HR Experts Human Resource Manager Karli Larson
"I didn't take the conventional route into human resources; I have a degree in human development and family sciences. I researched HR certifications that were either mandatory for my field or highly desired by potential employers. The SHRM-CP, PHR, and SPHR are the most sought-after and widely recognized HR credentials. Soft skills and acting as a strategic partner to the company are where SHRM certifications shine. Competencies such as leadership, ethics, and business savvy will be assessed. HR Certification Institute (the PHR/issuer) SPHR's is more specific and puts more emphasis on law and regulation.
Based on my prior research, I have concluded that an HRCI certification is most appropriate for smaller businesses that require their HR professional to wear many hats. But large and medium-sized businesses that are looking for a partner and thought leader will find SHRM certifications more useful. My decision to take the SHRM-CP exam was motivated by my desire to advance my career. The test was difficult, as I had heard of HRCI tests being, but it was well worth the effort.
Human Resources International TM Certified Professional (PHRi)
Earning a PHRi certification shows that you have a firm grasp on standard HR practices and procedures on a national level. Validating professional-level competency, knowledge, and skills, the PHRi is designed for non-American practitioners and can help them advance in their HR careers.
The PHRi certification exam assesses candidates' knowledge in the following areas: 19% talent acquisition; 19% HR administration and shared services; 19% talent management and development; 17% compensation, benefits, and work experience; 16% employee relations and risk management; and 10% HR information management.
The certification process includes taking an exam with a total of 145 scored questions (mostly multiple choice) and 25 practice questions. The exam is scheduled to last 3 hours and 15 minutes. You can take the exam in either English or Spanish. There is a $100 application fee in addition to the $395 exam fee. After passing the exam, your PHRi certification will remain active for three years. Over the course of three years, certificants are required to earn 60 recertification credits or retake the exam.
Candidates must meet one of the following prerequisites before taking the exam: Master's degree or international equivalent plus one year of HR experience; Bachelor's degree or international equivalent plus two years of HR experience; or four years of HR experience plus one year of HR experience.
Advantages: Trained experts will know what to do to make sure their company always has qualified people working in key positions. Managers and workers alike will benefit from their ability to handle administrative tasks like fulfilling information requests and securing data for later retrieval. Experts in talent management, employee engagement, and development processes.
Human Resources Expert Around the World (GPHR)
This credential shows employers that you have the expertise to handle HR issues in an international setting. Expertise in global HR roles, such as globalization strategy and HR policy and initiative development to support an organization's global expansion, is a hallmark of the GPHR.
Strategic global human resources account for 25% of the test, followed by global talent management (20%), global mobility (15%), workplace culture (15%), total rewards (10%), and risk management and compliance (10%).
The certification process includes taking an exam consisting of 140 scored questions (mostly multiple choice) and 25 practice questions, with a total time limit of 3 hours. You can take this exam at any Pearson VUE testing centre, or you can use OnVUE to take it from the comfort of your own home or office. The total cost of the exam is $495, plus a $100 application fee. The GPHR credential lasts for three years from the date of examination. In order to keep it active, you'll need to earn 60 recertification credits every three years, 15 of which must be Global credits.
Candidates must meet one of the following prerequisites before taking the exam: require a Master's degree or higher in addition to two years of HR experience, three years of HR experience in addition to a Bachelor's degree, or four years of HR experience in addition to no degree at all.
Professionals who have earned this accreditation are better equipped to serve as a strategic business partner and to deal with the unique human resource challenges that international businesses face. They can use the right instruments and metrics to help an organization attract, cultivate, engage, and retain its best people. Experts in this field know when it's appropriate to send workers abroad, how to help them adjust to their new environment, and how to get them back home safely and in full compliance with all local laws and regulations. They help the company succeed by fostering a welcoming environment for all employees through cultural awareness, CSR, and ethical conduct. Professionals in this field know how to tailor both optional and mandatory benefits to fit a given workplace and set of working conditions. Experts in this field know how to keep a company's employees protected from harm, including discrimination and harassment, as well as their own personal information, and in line with all relevant laws and regulations.
Professional Human Resources Accreditation from HCI
HR Certifications from HCI HR certifications from HCI help professionals develop their skills and advance in their careers by demonstrating mastery of fundamentals such as HR business partnership, workforce planning, people analytics, change management, and more.
Strategic Human Resources Leadership Credentialing (SHRL)
Individuals who earn this credential will be better equipped to build and lead high-performing human resources teams.
The course aims to teach professionals how to evaluate team leadership, align teams with a greater goal, create teams with purpose, improve team interaction, and influence results.
The certification process consists of attending either a two-day in-person program or a four-week online series of half-day sessions offered at a variety of times and dates to accommodate working professionals' busy schedules. When opting for online training, participants can use the Zoom platform to have live conversations with instructors and other students. After attending all sessions, completing all assigned work, and scoring 80% or higher on the final multiple-choice exam, participants will be awarded official certification. Every three years, you'll need to renew by earning 60 credits.
This certification course would be beneficial for anyone who acts as a formal or informal team leader. They will gain the skills necessary to coach a team and provide constructive criticism in order to boost productivity and morale. They will learn 30 different tools and templates throughout the course that they can use immediately to enhance their leadership and the effectiveness of their team. This course also qualifies for 12 recertification points with HCI, 12 with HRCI, 12 with SHRM, and 12 with ATD.
Accreditation for Talent Development's Human Resources Specialization - HR Certifications from ATD CI
The mission of the ATD Certification Institute is to promote globally recognized certifications in the field of talent development. The Association for Talent Development (ATD) Credentialing Institute (ATD CI) creates, manages, and oversees the ATD Credentialing Program, which includes the APTD and CPTD certifications. In the same way that ATD's educational and training programs are held to the highest standards of quality, so too is ATD CI. These programs provide a buffer between the evaluation procedure and any subsequent training or exam preparation.
9. Certified Talent Development Professional (CPTD)
Talent development experts can demonstrate their expertise by earning the Certified Professional in Talent Development (CPTD) credential. It covers a wide range of talent development skills and measures how well an individual applies their knowledge and abilities in those areas. Those who have earned the CPTD credential say it was a game-changer for their careers because of the lessons they learned, the connections they made, and the impact they were able to make as a result of the process. If you are unsure how to broach the subject of the CPTD with your employer, ATD provides a sample letter that can be downloaded for free.
The CPTD exam is broken down into three sections, each testing a different set of skills: 35 percent on organizational capabilities, 45 percent on professional capabilities, and 20 percent on the candidate's own personal capabilities. For those with more work experience, tests will centre on how well they can apply their knowledge and make choices under pressure. The CPTD exam outline is available for download at the following link.
In post-exam surveys, successful certificants report spending an average of 80-100 hours studying for the exam and allocating a total of six-nine months to the certification process. The exam consists of both multiple-choice and case management questions and lasts for a total of three hours. You can take the computerized exam at any of a number of testing centres around the world, or from the comfort of your own home or office with the help of remote proctoring. Members can take the test for $900, while non-members must pay $1250. This cost covers the cost of a CPTD exam seat, the cost of a score report, and the cost of a certificate and lapel pin upon successful completion of the exam. Preparation classes and study guides are available at an additional cost.
Prerequisites Include: 60 hours of professional development in talent development within the past five years and at least five years of professional work experience in talent development or a related field. They should also have extensive experience with the principles of employee talent development and know how to apply them.
Earning your CPTD or partnering with someone who already has it means you have demonstrated knowledge of and skill in applying talent development strategy and solutions to improve an organization's chances of success.
Accreditations in Human Resource Management from IHRIM - HR Certifications from IHRIM
Since its inception in 1980, IHRIM has been the preeminent organization for HR information management specialists to join as members. They provide a one-of-a-kind platform for learning, networking, and certification.