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Choosing the Right HR Certification

Considering an online Human Resources Master’s degree? You may also be wondering whether to take an HR certification exam. There are many reasons to get certified, including:

Here you can figure out which HR certification is right for you.

An Overview of HR Certifications

The HR Certification Institute (HRCI®) and the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) are the two most established certifying organizations in the industry. HRCI is an independent, nonprofit HR-credentialing organization based in the U.S. that has developed and administered HR certifications worldwide for 40 years.3 SHRM is the largest professional HR organization in the world more than 285,000 members from 165 countries and more than 575 affiliated chapters in the U.S. alone.4

Both HRCI and SHRM offer accredited HR certifications, which means their HR credentials meet the highest standard in testing.5,6  While both organizations offer certifications that can help you establish expertise and advance your career, you may benefit from getting one type of certification over another based on your education, work experience, and career goals.

The Top 5 HR Certifications

While there are a few HR certifications to choose from, these are the most commonly held certifications offered by HRCI and SHRM.

Associate Professional in Human Resources (aPHR)

The aPHR was designed for HR professionals just starting out in their career. The exam is knowledge-based and covers core HR concepts. Eligibility requires a high school diploma and no HR experience. The exam is computer-based and consists of multiple-choice and pretest questions.7

Professional in Human Resources (PHR)

The PHR is for HR professionals with one to four years of experience, depending on education level, whose responsibilities focus on the HR department rather than the whole organization. The exam covers U.S. laws and regulations and tests for technical and operational mastery in HR. It’s computer-based and consists of multiple-choice and pretest questions.8

Senior Professional in Human Resources (SPHR)

The SPHR is for management-level HR professionals with at least four to seven  years of experience, depending on education level, whose responsibilities lean more toward strategy than implementation within their organization. The exam requires a deep understanding of all HR disciplines, including how HR goals contribute to the greater goals of the organization itself. It’s computer-based and consists of multiple-choice and pretest questions.9

SHRM-CP

The SHRM-CP is designed for HR professionals with at least one to three years of experience, depending on education level and degree, responsible for performing day-to-day HR operations and implementation.10 The exam covers the SHRM Body of Competency and Knowledge (SHRM BoCKTM), which includes behavioral competencies in leadership as well as interpersonal-, business-, and knowledge-based information covering three domains (people, organization, and workplace). It’s computer-based and consists of 160 questions.11  Students who are already enrolled in a bachelor’s or master’s HR Degree program that is aligned with the SHRM curriculum are eligible to apply for this certification exam.

SHRM-SCP

The SHRM-SCP is designed for senior-level professionals with at least three to seven years of experience, depending on education level and degree, responsible for overseeing HR strategy and policy, analyzing metrics, and aligning HR goals with the goals of the organization as a whole.12 The SHRM-SCP also covers the SHRM BoCK. It’s computer-based and consists of 160 questions.13

While many choose to cram from a study guide or take one short prep course, others consider beginning a Master’s Degree program to help them gain a deeper knowledge of the HR topics that might be covered on these exams. If you are looking to advance your career in HR, consider enrolling in the Master of Science in Human Resources program at The University of Scranton. To learn more or speak with a Program Manager, call 866-373-9547.

Sources:

  1.   “Why seek SHRM certification?” SHRM.org. https://www.shrm.org/certification/about/aboutshrmcertification/pages/keybenefits.aspx (accessed February 8, 2017).
  2.   “About HRCI.” HRCI.org. https://www.hrci.org/about-hrci/overview (accessed February 8, 2017).
  3.   “About HRCI.” HRCI.org. https://www.hrci.org/about-hrci/overview (accessed February 8, 2017).
  4.   “About SHRM.” SHRM.org. https://www.shrm.org/about-shrm/pages/default.aspx?_ga=1.33064318.1767046433.1471083022 (accessed February 8, 2017).
  5.   “Accreditation.” HRCI.org. https://www.hrci.org/our-programs/what-is-hrci-certification/accreditation (accessed February 8, 2017).
  6.   “SHRM accreditation.” SHRM.org. https://www.shrm.org/certification/about/pages/shrm-accreditation.aspx (accessed February 8, 2017).
  7.   “Associate professional in human resources.” HRCI.org. https://www.hrci.org/our-programs/our-certifications/aphr (accessed February 8, 2017).
  8.   “Professional in human resources.” HRCI.org. https://www.hrci.org/our-programs/our-certifications/phr (accessed February 8,  2017).
  9.   “Senior professional in human resources.” HRCI.org. https://www.hrci.org/our-programs/our-certifications/sphr (accessed February 8, 2017).
  10.   “Selecting the right exam.” SHRM.org. https://www.shrm.org/certification/apply/eligibilitycriteria/pages/which-exam-to-take.aspx (accessed February 8, 2017).
  11.   “The SHRM body of competency and knowledge.” SHRM.org. https://www.shrm.org/certification/Documents/SHRM-BoCK-FINAL.pdf (accessed February 8, 2017).
  12.   “Selecting the right exam.” SHRM.org. https://www.shrm.org/certification/apply/eligibilitycriteria/pages/which-exam-to-take.aspx (accessed February 8, 2017).
  13.   “The SHRM body of competency and knowledge.” SHRM.org. https://www.shrm.org/certification/Documents/SHRM-BoCK-FINAL.pdf (accessed February 8, 2017).