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Certification Information for the New HR Professional

Alice Dendinger | August 17, 2015 | Compensation, Employment Law, Interviewing and Selection

If you are new to the HR field, it may be daunting to sort through all the information and determine your path to obtain a certification.  In this post, I will drill down to the facts and help you create a map for career enhancement.


Certification in this field can be the launch of a successful career.  Additionally, a study by Payscale in 2013 showed significantly higher lifetime earnings for those with a certification – however,  it considered only the HRCI certification as the SHRM-CP and SHRM-SCP was not an option until 2015.  Only time will tell if the business community sees value in the SHRM-CP and SHRM-SCP.

I recommend pursuing both the HRCI and SHRM certifications only if you are struggling to meet criteria to sit for the exam.  The two certifications are similar in some ways, but they have slightly differing eligibility requirements, especially for those with a graduate-level degree. SHRM also differentiates between HR-related and non-HR educational backgrounds and HRCI is only an option for the HR Professional.  If eligibility is not your concern, as you read my posts, you will  see many other reasons why HRCI is my choice for an credentialed HR Professional.

Years of professional level HR experience required by HRCI:
PHR SPHR Educational Level
1 4 with Masters degree
2 5 with Bachelors degree
4 7 with less than Bachelors degree

Years of professional level HR experience required by SHRM:
SHRM-CP SHRM-SCP Educational Level
<1 3 with HR-related Graduate degree
1 4 with non-HR Graduate degree
1 4 with HR-related Bachelors degree
2 5 With non-HR Bachelors degree
3 6 with HR-related background less than a Bachelors degree
4 7 with non-HR background less than a Bachelors degree

Both organizations essentially require that individuals seeking certification must already have been hired in a role where they will be gaining HR experience.  Some differences in basic eligibility between the certifications will apply to an individual who holds a role, such as an Office Manager, which does not have an HR title but where a significant portion of the work performed is HR-related.

These exams are hard and require a great deal of preparation and study.

More detailed information on eligibility for SHRM certification is on their website.

For specific eligibility requirements for HRCI certification, see their website.

Looking for an SPHR/PHR Certification Prep course?  Join Alice and PivotU for an interactive study experience that will build your professionalism in the field of Human Resources while preparing you for certification.

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