How to Become SHRM Certified and Build HR Credibility

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Learn what it means to be SHRM certified, the two levels of certification, and why getting certified is beneficial for your career in HR.

[Featured image] Human Resources manager sitting at a table while a presentation is given in the background.

To be SHRM certified means to have a Society of Human Resource Management (SHRM) certification in key areas. SHRM is an organization with more than 300,000 human resources professionals that offers two certifications: SHRM Certified Professional (SHRM-CP) and SHRM Senior Certified Professional (SHRM-SCP). Learn about the different levels of SHRM certification, how to get SHRM certified, and how these certifications can boost your career in HR.

What is a SHRM certification?

A SHRM certification is a credential that shows you are competent in key areas of human resources. The SHRM-CP and SHRM-SCP certifications can boost your credibility in the field and help you stand out when applying for human resource positions.

What are the different levels of SHRM certification?

SHRM-CP and SHRM-SCP are the two certifications offered by the Society of Human Resource Management. You can earn these credentials by completing the required education courses and an online assessment. The competency and knowledge criteria are based on the SHRM BODY of Applied Skills and Knowledge (BASK), a global standard for the key areas needed to succeed in human resource management. SHRM certification is different from its specialty credentials. Credentials educate you on specific learning objectives and do not require the certification exam. Instead, you attend learning events and then take an assessment on that key area.


The SHRM-CP certification is for anyone who wants to work in human resources or human resource management. You don’t need an HR title, degree, or previous HR experience to apply for this certification, but having a working knowledge of human resources is recommended.

The competencies for this certification are determined by the SHRM BASK and include topics covering:


The SHRM Senior Certified Professional (SHRM-SCP) exam is for senior-level HR professionals in strategic roles. You will have a work history of at least three years performing strategic-level HR/HR-related duties. You can also pursue this certification if you have held the SHRM-CP credential for at least three years and are working in, or will be moving into, a strategic-level role. 

You don’t need to hold an HR title or have a degree to apply, but you must show that you devote at least 1,000 hours per calendar year to strategic-level HR/HR-related work. Competencies assessed fall under the same SHRM BASK topics and include advanced skills not covered in the SHRM-CP. 

Is it essential to have a SHRM certification to work in HR?

While a SHRM certification is not required to work in HR, it can be beneficial. The certifications can be added to your resume and help you stand out in the job market. When you search job listings on different career sites, read the job descriptions carefully for any mention of SHRM certification as a requirement or preferred qualification for applying.

While there is no governing body in human resources, SHRM is a credible organization, and the certifications show you have the core competencies required to be successful in an HR career.

Read more: What Can I Expect from a Human Resources Degree?

How will being SHRM certified boost a career in HR?

The certifications enhance your credibility. Being SHRM certified can boost your career in HR because it makes your resume stand out during job searches. SHRM also uses digital badge services to display your credential on social media networks and in emails. 

How much does it cost to become SHRM certified?

SHRM gives two exam windows during the year—May to July or December to February—when you can register for the certification exam. Early bird pricing is $335 for SHRM members and $435 for non-members. The standard exam fee is $410 for members and $510 for non-members. Student members pay $149, and non-member students pay $209. The corporate and military exam fees are $270 for members and non-members [1].  

Step-by-step guide to getting SHRM certified 

Getting SHRM certified starts with these steps:

  1. Decide if certification is right for your career goals.

  2. Choose which certification is right for you.

  3. Check to see if you are eligible for the certification.

  4. Apply for the certification exam.

  5. Prepare for the test.

Decide which certification is appropriate for your level.

The SHRM-CP certification is right for you if you want to work in human resources and are not in a leadership position. According to SHRM, work on this level includes implementing HR policies, supporting day-to-day HR functions, or serving as an HR point of contact for staff and stakeholders [2].

The SHRM-SCP certification will be the right one for you if you are in a senior human resources role that assists in decision-making or want to work in such a role. You need at least three years of experience to qualify for this certification.

Apply to take the certification exam.

The application process begins with creating a user account on the SHRM website and completing the application. When the registration window opens, select the exam you want to take. Indicate if you need testing accommodations and agree to the SHRM policies and code of ethics. After paying for the exam, SHRM will determine your eligibility, after which you'll receive an email confirming you can take the exam. You'll then schedule your exam with SHRM's testing vendor, Prometric.

Take the SHRM exam.

You will complete the certification exam for either the SHRM-CP and SHRM-SCP online via remote proctoring or in person at an authorized testing center. If you’re taking the test remotely, you’ll need a computer to complete the four-hour certification test, which has 134 questions. Of that time, three hours and 40 minutes are testing time [3, 4]. 

You will need a photo ID for both options. In person, you will need to undergo a security screening and place your items in a locker. You will also receive your testing materials. You will be guided to your seat for the exam, and a Prometric Test Center Administrator will be on hand for assistance or to address any concerns during your test.

If taking the exam remotely, you must download a ProProctor application on your computer and run a system-readiness check. You will also need to review the remote proctoring FAQs and user guide. The security check for remote testing will be:

  • Self-service check-in that includes capturing an image of your face and your photo ID and completing a candidate preparedness checklist

  • A video chat

  • A 360-degree environmental check using your webcam

  • A person checks where the agent will ask you to stand up so they can complete personal scans 

The proctor will observe you during the entire test and will be available to assist you.

Maintain certification.

Your SHRM certification requires that you get recertified every three years through 60 hours of professional development activities, for which you earn professional development credits (PDCs). The other way to maintain certification is to retake and pass your certification exam within the last year of your three-year certification. 

Qualifying activities for your PDCs include:

  • Attending HR conferences, webinars, and seminars

  • Completing degree program courses from accredited universities for your undergraduate or graduate degree

  • Earning continuing education credits awarded by the International Association for Continuing Education and Training (IACET)

  • Participating in online learning, podcasts, webcasts, and other offerings from SHRM eLearning

  • Reading SHRM-approved books and ebooks

  • Earning SHRM Specialty Credentials

  • Completing a SHRM Foundation Veterans at Work or Getting Talent Back to Work certificate program

  • Completing projects that advance your organization

  • Giving presentations about HR topics

  • Researching, writing, and publishing research, books, articles, white papers, and blogs about HR

  • Volunteering to support HR activities at non-profit organizations

  • Holding professional memberships in other HR organizations

Did you know?

The term “human resources” first appeared in John R. Commons’ book, The Distribution of Wealth, in 1893. However, human resources as an organizational concept did not begin popularizing until the 1960s, when labor relations became more sophisticated, and notions of motivation and organizational behavior started to take shape.


Next steps 

If you are ready to take the SHRM-CP or SHRM-SCP exam, take the steps now to enroll. Becoming SHRM-certified can help you advance your career and open up new job opportunities. 

Advance your career in human resources by enrolling in the University of Minnesota's Human Resource Management: HR for People Managers Specialization, which you can complete at your own pace. You will earn a shareable certificate that you can display, add to your resume, or share with your current employer. Topics covered include alternative approaches to managing human resources, best practices for hiring and rewarding employees, managing employee performance, and avoiding critical mistakes in managing human resources.

Article sources


SHRM. "Exam Dates and Fees," Accessed November 22, 2023.

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