HR Management··9 min read

SHRM Certifications: What Are They and Do You Need Them?

shrm certifications

Businesses benefit from being reassured of the competency of their employees. And when it comes to Human resources, it is a constantly evolving field that requires top-notch employment that can learn quickly and are equipped with the tools to excel.

To be sure employees keep up, they must evolve, too. But first, organizations must not only find outlets to do so en masse for their HR department but must also know where each individual HR staff member stands in order to aid in group improvement.

What are SHRM Certifications?

SHRM certifications are the global standard for HR certifications. They’re offered by SHRM, the world’s largest HR membership organization. SHRM certifications signify high-level and up-to-date knowledge of a particular topic in the HR field. It’s particularly useful for individuals who want to overcome workplace bias and for organizations that desire distinguishable employees.

The certification test is designed around SHRM BASK (Body of Applied Skills and Knowledge) and developed by employers, academics, and HR professionals. It tests competency in real-world scenarios. This would include critical thinking when it comes to on-the-spot problem-solving, for example. Moreover, because HR is a diverse department, it’s mindful of meeting the needs of diverse backgrounds and various cultures that represent HR professionals worldwide.

Types of SHRM certifications

There are two types of SHRM certifications: SHRM-CP and SHRM-SCP. SHRM-CP (certified professional) is a little looser compared to SHRM-SCP, which is geared towards more experienced employees in the HR field. Both certifications hone valuable behavioral and technical skills necessary in the field. It also establishes one in the HR world on a global level using the SHRM BASK.

SHRM certifications specifically examine the competency level of those who perform HR duties at a high level. Aside from testing competency, the outcome of the test is designed, in part, to teach those at several levels of the field to increase staff engagement and operational efficiency.

SHRM Certification Requirements

One does not need a special membership, a degree, previous HR experience, an HR-related position, or a job at all to apply. Those familiar with the field, interested, or are in training for it (I.e., academics, onboarded employees) are likely eligible to take the SHRM-CP. If experienced with operational duties, SHRM-CP is more fitting.

The SHRM-SCP is designed for HR seniors that perform strategic roles. Those who wish to take it are required to have at least 3 years of HR-related experience and must be prepared to take the test tri-annually going forward.

Moreover, those who’ve held a SHRM-SCP certificate for at least 3 years may wish to get recertified, as the SHRM BASK is updated every 3 to 5 years. This tends to the needs of organizations that wish to examine their team’s strengths and weaknesses and routinely refresh their knowledge.

If applying for the first time, one may find it helpful to have a field-related career or experience. It serves a role for employers who wish to transfer their employees to higher-level positions.

HRCI vs SHRM Certifications

HRCI is a nonprofit credentialing organization for the HR field. They offer 8 certifications to HR professionals, all of which are accredited by the National Commission for Certifying Agencies. SHRM exams are accredited by the Buros Center for Testing.

HRCI certifications are aimed toward high management. It focuses on making one stand out in the HR field, while SHRM certifications offer organizations group and individual results. The biggest difference is the way in which tests are offered. Unfortunately, when it comes to HRCI, there’s a high standard at which one must already perform in order to reap the benefits of gaining additional knowledge.

This makes it difficult to meet lower-level HR professionals in an organization. However, HRCI does offer webinars and summits, as well as a guidebook (HRBoK) available to all test-takers interested just as SHRM provides similar learning tools.

SHRM Certification Cost

SHRM certification exam fees range from 200 to 500 dollars, with lower prices for members. There are four categories that can alter the price: Early-bird, standard, military, and student fees. The Early-Bird and Standard fees are priced differently depending on the time in which one would like to take the exam. Those interested in taking the test early will find that the price is slightly lower than standard exam fees. Standard fees include a 75-dollar non-refundable deadline fee.

The student exam fee is the lowest, with the military fee coming in second. Additionally, there will be a non-refundable 75-dollar application processing fee and 50-dollar results review fee. One should take this into account if there are groups wanting to take a particular exam.

SHRM Certification Courses

SHRM offers online courses as well as certification prep. Certification Power Preparation Programs give access to sample test questions. This will increase test performance and provide the opportunity to network with other HR professionals, who will share strategies for the SHRM-CP and SHRM-SCP exams. These benefits are offered to both SHRM-CP and SHRM-SCP certification Power Preparation Programs respectively.

While taking SHRM certification courses, one will learn studying techniques, become familiar with the content of the exam, and become a better test-taker overall.

Courses for SHRM certifications include the following:

  • Benefits and compensation

Offers six online courses and two in-person classes, some of which are mid-level. Learn legislation to help organize wage structures and set up rewards programs to help secure top talent.

  • Business Operations

A single in-person class that teaches effective communication between leading staff members by developing an understanding of business intelligence, which involves data analysis and management of business information.

  • California HR

A mid-level, in-person class in which California employment law is taught. Aids business in remaining compliant with the law and reduces litigation risks. Pairs with 5 online courses that dissect various aspects of California law.

  • Communication

Strategies involving how to effectively reach the targeted audience. In addition, it increases your contributions when in group discussions through practicing captivating storytelling and delivery of presentations.

  • Employee Development

Two mid-level online courses and dual in-person courses with a focus on organizational talent and workplace coaching and mentoring. Learn coaching techniques and vital problem-solving techniques to improve business performance.

  • Employee Experience

Instructive ways to establish a positive workplace atmosphere and deal with common workplace issues such as harassment, discrimination, and retaliation. In doing so, you increase employee engagement. Contains a single online course.

  • Employment Law

With 5 mid-level online classes, you’ll explore common law practices and develop your skills in conducting internal investigations and how to spot non-compliance.

  • HR 101

Improve your handling of HR issues through the in-person course and connect with business leaders through a better understanding of basic HR behavioral and technical skills by attending one of the three in-person classes.

  • Inclusion

Decrease staff turnover by tackling issues of inclusion. Learn to guide your team as well and emphasize the value of conduct and teamwork.

  • Leadership and Navigation

Foster a better workplace culture and lead your team towards completing company goals by learning the three E’s: environment, experimentation, and empowerment.

  • Organizational Effectiveness

Connect with stakeholders effectively, accurately apply OD interventions, and ultimately learn leadership skills that help identify organizational needs.

  • People Analytics

Simultaneously solve problems and make the best decisions in the interest of the company with the following available courses: Taking Data-Driven Action, Foundational Data Literacy, The Metrics Behind People Analytics, and Analyzing People Data.

  • Talent Acquisition

Take on a variety of online courses available that instructs course-takers on how to get the attention of and connect with top talent. Expand your application pool by learning about global hiring or what it means to hire foreign nationals.

  • Technology

Study fast-evolving technological trends to transform your organization’s digital presence, increase productivity, and become more competitive online. Back it up with the online course for cybersecurity.


SHRM is a globally recognized organization bringing together global HR professionals from entry to senior-level positions. SHRM offers SHRM-CP and SHRM-SCP. SHRM-CP is for those familiar with performing operational duties while SHRM-SCP is for higher-level HR professionals with several years of experience.

Both certifications test competency and enhance the skills of organizational teams and individuals alike. HRCI certifications focus more on specific HR positions while SHRM’s certification process is more universal. SHRM certificates can be prepared for via a variety of SHRM’s HR-related online courses and preparation programs and tests you with realistic scenarios.

Costs for both certifications vary between members and casual users. Otherwise, it depends on when the test is taken and special costs for certain groups, such as early-bird exam fees or veteran exam fees. Additionally, one must take into account minor fees like Application Processing, Retesting, and Results Review fees.


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