Demand for HR-related skills is trending up. There was a 406% increase in consumption of HR content on Udemy from 2019 to 2020. And it’s not just about building essential people management skills. HR pros often seek validation through certification programs. Payscale found that 34% of HR professionals hold at least one certification. 

There are a few major players in the HR certification space. The Society for Human Resources Management (SHRM) and the HR Certification Institute (HRCI) offer certification programs. Both the SHRM and HRCI certifications involve investing a significant amount of time and dedication in upskilling yourself. But pays off in the long run. HR pros who have certifications see a 31% pay boost to their salaries.

Here’s what every HR professional needs to know about the top HR certifications. 

SHRM certifications: SHRM-CP and SHRM-SCP

What are the certifications?

SHRM offers two certifications: SHRM Certified Professional (SHRM-CP) and SHRM Senior Certified Professional (SHRM-SCP). 

What does it cover? 

The SHRM-CP exam is for more junior HR professionals who implement policies and strategies, serve as the point of contact for staff and stakeholders, deliver HR services, and perform operational HR functions.

The SHRM-SCP exam is for senior HR professionals who develop strategies, lead their company’s HR function, foster influence in the community, analyze performance metrics, and align HR strategies to organizational goals.

What are the requirements? 

Each of the SHRM exams requires a specific combination of educational and work experience. You can find a detailed guide to the requirements on SHRM’s eligibility criteria page

How long is it valid?

After you pass the exam, the certification is valid for three years. To keep the certification valid, you must either earn 60 professional development credits (through activities like attending webinars or volunteering) or re-take the exam before the end of that three-year period.

How much does it cost?

The standard price for the exam is $375 for SHRM members and $475 for non-members. There are various discounts including ones for members of the military and early-bird sign-ups.

HRCI certification: PHR 

What are the certifications? 

HRCI offers several certifications for various levels of professional experience and career track preference:

What does it cover?

The PHR exam demonstrates your mastery of the technical and operational aspects of HR management, including US laws and regulations. The associate-level exams are for entry-level professionals while the Senior-level exams are for more experienced practitioners. Some of the certifications have specific regional content such as the PHRca, which focuses on the concerns of managing a workforce in California.

What are the requirements?

The associate-level certifications don’t require any formal education or professional experience. All other certifications require a combination of education and work experience. See HRCI’s guide to requirements for more information.

How long is it valid?

After you pass the exam, the certification is valid for three years. During that time, you must earn professional development or achievement credits or re-take the exam to keep your certification valid.

How much does it cost?

There are different price points for each exam ranging from $400 to $595. Find out more on HRCI’s exam fees page.

Other certifications to consider

The SHRM and HRCI certifications are by far the most popular, but there are other types of HR certifications available for people working in the field. Here’s a quick overview. 

Undergraduate Certificate in Human Resource Management: The Undergraduate Certificate in Human Resource Management is available through schools like the University of Virginia and Golden Gate University. This certification doesn’t take as many years of study or credits as a Bachelor’s degree, so it can be a stepping stone into an HR career for many who find four-year degrees inaccessible. 

Talent Development Certification: The Association for Talent Development (ATD) offers two certification programs: Associate Professional in Talent Development (APTD) and Certified Professional in Talent Development (CPTD). The APTD covers the basics of talent development and is open to talent development professionals early in their careers. The CPTD is for talent development professionals with at least five years of experience. 

World at Work Certified Compensation Professional: World at Work provides professional development for those who design and deliver total rewards programs. World at Work’s most popular credential is the Certified Compensation Professional (CCP).  

Prepare your team for the future of HR

As a field, HR is evolving to take a more strategic role in the business. The modern HR team is not just a service center. Rather, it has the ability to influence the organization through innovative hiring and talent development practices.

But no matter what challenges they face, HR professionals need a foundation of knowledge. The fundamentals of HR — creating a safe and supportive environment for employees — remain just as critical. 

Help your HR team keep their skills up to date, whether it’s the essential building blocks of their field or more advanced analytical and business skills. Get in touch with one of our learning experts to discover more ways to keep your HR teams trained in the latest skills of their field.