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It’s becoming increasingly common for HR professionals, especially those who want to rise through the ranks, to earn an HR certification. The two most well-known HR certifications are HRCI and SHRM.
HRCI stands for Human Resources Certification Institute. HRCI offers eight different possible credentials that HR professionals can qualify for:
Any HRCI credentials indicate a level of expertise and experience in the HR field. However, the more advanced the credentials, for example, SPHR over aPHR, the more expertise is indicated. Each certification is earned through an exam. HRCI offers for sale resources for learning in order for HR professionals to prepare for the exam.
SHRM stands for Society for Human Resource Management. SHRM is a network of HR professionals who choose to join, but the society also offers certification in HR. In order to prepare for the exam, potential candidates can study on their own with materials available for purchase from SHRM or take an instructor-led course. SHRM has two certifications: SHRM-CP and SHRM-SCP. CP stands for Certified Professional and SCP is for Senior Certified Professional.
In many ways, the two are very similar. HRCI and SHRM actually used to be one organization but split in 2014. SHRM had wanted to develop its own certification. For both certifications, a certain amount of experience in HR is required in order to qualify for the exam. How much depends on your level of education. The more higher education you have, especially in an HR-related subject, the fewer years of HR work experience are required. If you have had higher education, but the degree isn’t related to HR, the minimum experience required is less than with no degree at all but more than with an HR-related degree. The higher the certification, the more years of experience you need, regardless of your level of education. Once you qualify for the exam, there’s a lot of preparation and study involved. There’s a fee involved for both exams that ranges from around $300 to $500 depending on the certification. Passing the certification exam isn’t the end. HR professionals must renew their certifications every three years.
Within the HR field, there isn’t much difference between the two. They’re equally reputable within the HR industry and about equal numbers of HR professionals carry each qualification. Some HR professionals earn both. For most HR professionals, the decision between the two comes down to their own personal preference. HRCI has more certifications to choose from, including certifications designed specifically for international HR. SHRM has just the two, which can make it easier to decide which certification you need to earn.