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February 8, 2022



Working in Human Resources management is a fulfilling career that offers the privilege of assisting colleagues in achieving their full potential in safe and healthy surroundings. HR management sets the stage for a business and its people to thrive. Becoming certified as an HR professional is a meaningful step in influencing the inner workings of any workplace environment. Get involved with the HR community by taking a certification exam, advancing credibility, and setting an example of what it means to have knowledge within the industry. There are two certifications you can earn to pursue this career path and demonstrate your competency. This article will compare the two so you can decide which one is right for you.

What Are HRCI Certifications?

HR Certification Institute (HRCI) is an official credentialing organization for the human resources profession. Their main offerings are testing and certification. These HRCI certifications are well respected and open many opportunities for those pursuing careers in the field. Each exam prepares future HR professionals for the challenges they’ll face.

HRCI Certifications:

  • Associate Professional in Human Resources (aPHR)
  • Professional in Human Resources (PHR)
  • Senior Professional in Human Resources (SPHR)
  • Professional in Human Resources - California (PHRca)
  • Global Professional in Human Resources (GPHR)
  • Professional in Human Resources - International (PHRi)
  • Senior Professional in Human Resources - International (SPHRi)

HRCI-certified professionals must go through the recertification process every three years and earn 60 recertification credits during that time.

HRCI Experience

HR experience is required in order to qualify for each HRCI certification. The two certifications in the highest demand are Professional in Human Resources (PHR) and Senior Professional in Human Resources (SPHR).

The following is a list of required work experience for those two certifications based on your level of education:

  • PHR Required Experience
  • No bachelor’s degree: four years
  • Bachelor’s degree: two years
  • Graduate degree: one year
  • SPHR Required Experience
  • No bachelor’s degree: seven years
  • Bachelor’s degree: years
  • Graduate degree: four years

HRCI Benefits

The major benefit of HRCI certifications is that they're suitable for many levels of HR experience. Because of this benefit, these certifications are offered worldwide to a vast body of aspiring HR professionals. This makes it easy for associate professionals to develop a notable level of accreditation over time.

What Are SHRM Certifications?

The Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) is another widely recognized and respected human resources organization, which provides education, certification, and networking to people in the HR profession. As with HRCI, SHRM offers many different resources, they are best known for their HR certification program.

SHRM offers two types of certifications, with varying levels of prerequisite hours in the field: the SHRM Certified Professional (SHRM-CP) and the SHRM Senior Certified Professional (SHRM-SCP). The SHRM-CP exam is for HR professionals with three to five years of experience who are in operational or tactical roles, while the SHRM-SCP exam is for senior HR professionals with six or more years of experience who take on strategic positions in the workplace.

Like with HRCI certifications, the recertification process must be completed every three years, in which the individual should earn 60 SHRM credits.

SHRM Experience

In order to qualify for either SHRM exam, previous experience is required. This varies depending on educational background and whether or not the individual has a degree related to HR. Assuming the degree is in HR, the required experience is listed below:

  • SHRM Certified Professional (SHRM-CP)
    • No bachelor’s degree: three to four years of experience
    • Bachelor’s degree: one to two years of experience
    • Graduate degree: less than one year
  • SHRM Senior Certified Professional (SHRM-SCP)
    • No bachelor’s degree: six to seven years of experience
    • Bachelor’s degree: four to five years of experience
    • Graduate degree: three to four years of experience

If the future HR professional does not have a degree related to HR, an additional year will be required in order to fulfill the required experience needed for a SHRM certification.

SHRM Benefits

Similarly to the HRCI certification, the SHRM offers a certification option for different phases of the HR career; so no matter where you find yourself in your career path, SHRM will work for you. The major benefit of opting for an SHRM certification is you know beyond a shadow of a doubt that it’s a reputable and legitimate association that is well respected by all professionals in the industry. The certification utilizes important career resources built on the foundation of leadership, consulting, and career navigation. These tools are critical for excelling in bigger, more sophisticated organizations.

Before pursuing an HR management certification, it’s a smart idea to earn a human resources degree. Once you have that education under your belt, an HR management certification can propel you even further in your career, opening you to more job options and greater salaries. If you’re interested in becoming an HR professional or would like to advance your existing HR career, consider earning a degree as a vital step in that direction. WGU offers degree options in this field that allow you to earn an affordable education on your own time and prime you for an HRCI or SHRM certification down the road.

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