Not sure whether you should invest in the SHRM certification?
Well, different from lawyers, teachers, and doctors, HR professionals don’t need a certification in order to operate. But if you browse through HR positions on job boards, you will see that many companies prefer to hire SHRM certified professionals, or even require applicants to have certification.
But since the certification represents a significant investment of time and money, it is a good idea to understand all about it before making a decision.
What is the SHRM Certification
The certification consists of a four-hour exam containing two types of multiple-choice questions: knowledge-based and scenario-based. The certification exam is accredited by the Buros Center for Testing, an institution that attests that the HR credentials meet the highest standards.
As the most widely recognized credential in the industry, many professionals all over the world pursue SHRM certification aiming for career growth and recognition.
The certification sets professionals apart from the crowd in recruiting situations, but it is also a great weapon when seeking a promotion. It not only shows employers that you have extensive knowledge but also demonstrates your commitment to developing as an HR professional.
SHRM-CP Vs. SHRM-SCP
The SHRM offers two types of exams, the SHRM-Certified Professional (SHRM-CP) and the SHRM-Senior Certified Professional (SHRM-SCP). They are designed for different audiences, based on the level of experience in the field.
The SHRM-CP is designated for HR professionals who are engaged primarily in operational roles. So, if your responsibilities include policy and procedures implementation, employee relations coordination, and other day-to-day administrative tasks, the SHRM-CP is your best alternative.
If you operate on a senior role with a focus on strategic matters you might want to go for the SHRM-SCP. Keep in mind that strategic matters include major tasks such as aligning HR strategies with the organizational goals, managing people who implement HR operations, and developing policies based on the analysis of performance metrics, for example.
Even if you are on a senior role, you might not be eligible for the SHRM-SCP exam, or you might decide for yourself that you should go for the SHRM-CP first.
SHRM Eligibility Criteria
Both exams have rigorous eligibility criteria. All applicants must meet particular academic and work experience standards at the time they submit their application in order to be eligible for the SHRM-CP or SHRM-SCP exam.
If you have a Bachelor’s degree in the HR field, you must be working for at least 1 year in an HR position to be eligible for the SHRM-Certified Professional exam, and at least 4 years to be able to sit for the SHRM-SCP exam.
You can check your eligibility for both exams below:
Keep in mind that the pass rate for the SHRM-SCP exam is around 50% while the pass rate for the SHRM-CP exam is 70%. This tells us that even HR professionals who qualify for the SHRM-SCP certification have a hard time succeeding. So, if you feel like your experience is not extensive enough yet, go for the SHRM-CP first.
Benefits of Getting the SHRM Certification
Earning an SHRM certification is an excellent way to step up in your HR career. It not only increases your self-confidence but also makes you more reliable in the eyes of other HR professionals. For human resources professionals looking to walk their way up to an executive HR position, being certified helps to get there.
Let’s explore a few benefits of obtaining an SHRM certification:
Advantage during recruiting processes. If you still did not get the dream job, at the company you desire, getting a certification will help stand out from the other applicants when the ideal position opens up. Most large companies require candidates to have an HR certification from a credible institution. This helps them filter the candidates before they start reviewing applications.
Higher salary. If you are happy at the company that you currently work, the SHRM can also represent an advantage for you. According to research, the median pay for an HR professional with an SHRM certification was close to $88K while those without any certification made around $46K. That represents nearly double salary for certified professionals. That is also because SHRM certified professionals are promoted faster and tend to hold positions of higher authority compared to non-certified people.
Boost in recognition. Besides making you more prone to be promoted, an SHRM certification will boost your confidence and fellow professionals’ recognition. This might not seem as valuable as a higher salary, but recognition represents a big part of job satisfaction and professional fulfillment. The initials that will appear after your name on business cards or on your LinkedIn profile show expertise and might represent an advantage in networking situations.
Demonstrate commitment to the HR profession. Investing in the SHRM certification shows your long-term commitment to the human resources career, which makes it easier for HR managers to trust bigger responsibilities on you. If your manager sees your engagement in professional development, he or she will be more inclined to dedicate time to mentor you.
Extra incentive to expand HR knowledge. Knowing that you have the SHRM certification exam coming up will be an extra motivation for you to study HR concepts that you wouldn’t review without this incentive. The Society of Human Resources Management provides the SHRM Learning System as a resource for exam preparation. The study materials include:
- HR competencies, which includes business acumen, consultation, relationship management, and ethical practice
- People, which covers talent acquisition, employee engagement, employee retention, workforce management, and total rewards
- Organization, which comprises employee and labor relations, behavioral competencies, organizational effectiveness, and technology management
- And Workplace, which covers all about diversity and inclusion, U.S. employment law and regulations, risk management, and corporate social responsibility
Keep yourself competitive in the industry. By going through the learning modules you will be gaining the knowledge necessary to keep yourself up to date with new HR technology resources and new employment laws and regulations. You will be benefiting not only yourself but also your company with powerful human resources knowledge. This investment might even help you protect your company from lawsuit risk by ensuring regulatory compliance.
Interested in reviewing other certifications? Then check out our certifications at HR University.
What the SHRM Investment Look Like
All the SHRM certification benefits come at a price. Both the SHRM-CP and the SHRM-SCP certification exams cost $475 USD if you are not a member of the Society of Human Resources Management. There is also a $50 USD application fee, which makes the total investment $525 USD for non-members.
If you are a member of the SHRM, you get $100 USD off the certification price. This means that members pay $375 USD plus the $50 USD application fee.
Considering that the Society of Human Resources Management annual fee is $219 USD, it might be worth it to become a member if you want to get certified. The institution offers many resources for members interview guides, termination checklists, research, metrics, and even updated legislative policies.
If you want to save some money, you should plan your certification enrollment in advance to access the early-bird exam fee, which is $300 USD for members and $400 for non-members.
Besides the financial investment, you will have to dedicate a few hours per week for at least a couple of months to get ready for the certification exam. As you might have noticed by this point, the exam compiles many complex topics in every area of HR, so even if you have extensive experience in the field, you will need to commit to the exam preparation if you want to pass.
Many people enroll in preparatory courses offered by local colleges or online programs. Receiving expert instruction is a great way to get you ready and confident for the competitive edge of the exam. But it also represents another financial investment.
The SHRM certification expires three years after you take the exam. This means that if you want to make your initial investment count longer, you must get certified every three years.
The good news is that you don’t necessarily need to take the exam again. The SHRM developed a system to check if you are engaging in professional development activities during this three-year period. If you prove that you do, you can get automatically recertified. So, there are two options for you to renew your license:
- Earn 60 professional development credits (PDCs) within your three-year recertification cycle
- Re-take and pass the certification exam within the last year of your recertification cycle
You can review the details about the competencies you need to keep developing on the SHRM Body of Competency and Knowledge (SHRM Bock).
Is the SHRM Certification Worth It?
If you are committed to your professional growth, to the overall development of the HR profession, and to continuous learning, the SHRM certification will help you achieve your goals.
Investing in a credible HR certification, like the SHRM, might represent the difference between being a good HR professional and a leading HR expert. A certification like this will open several doors on your career and will help you to remain competitive in this ever-evolving industry.
If you are new to Human Resources and are looking to break into a HR role, we recommend taking our HR Certification Courses, where you will learn how to build your skillset in human resources, build your human resources network, craft a great HR resume, and create a successful job search strategy.