HR Certifications: SHRM vs. HRCI

Considering that many HR practitioners fall into the field, pursuing an HR certification can be a great way to prove expertise in the industry. But is getting certified worth it? And which one should you pursue? Many senior HR professionals have received certification from the major players: the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) and the HR Certification Institute (HRCI).

Though HRCI began as an extension of SHRM, but SHRM stopped offering PHR certification in 2014 and launched its own set of exams. SHRM transferred the majority of its existing membership from the standard PHR to this new SHRM certification. Since then, there has been competition between the two providers, but what’s the real difference? Below we lay out the details of each certification program:

SHRM Certification

SHRM originated in 1948 and has evolved into one of the largest human resources organizations in the world. While SHRM offers a variety of HR services, events, and resources, one of their most ubiquitous offerings is their HR certification program. Since its launch, 70% of early to mid-career HR professionals and 56% of senior HR practitioners have passed their respective SHRM certification exams.

SHRM offers two certifications: SHRM-CP for early to mid-career HR professionals, and SHRM-SCP for senior-level HR practitioners. When considering applying to get SHRM certified, keep these features in mind:

  • Exam Details: Both exams give participants 4 hours to answer a total of 160 questions. Exams are comprised of 95 knowledge items and 65 situational judgment items.
  • Accreditation: The exams are accredited by The Buros Center for Testing.
  • Exam Fees: SHRM-CP & SHRM-SCP are priced at $300 for SHRM members and $400 for nonmembers.
  • Recertification: Professionals must recertify every three years by earning 60 SHRM credits during that time.

SHRM is an internationally recognized organization and offers a thorough guide to certification and a high success rate. Check out their website and practice tests to see if this certification could be the best fit for you.

HRCI Certification

Early in its existence, SHRM supported the formation of a task force to establish an HR accreditation program. In 1973, this task force founded the ASPA Accreditation Institute (AAI) and in 1976, the first HR exams were administered. The AAI evolved into the HR Certification Institute (HRCI), which today offers seven levels of accreditation to participants worldwide, based on level of experience. Across the seven tests, the average pass rate is 63%.

The certifications offered by HRCI include:

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

HRCI makes it simple to find the exam that’s right for you by listing characteristics of HR professionals at each experience level and also by providing an interactive feature to match you to the right test. These are the distinguishing features of the HRCI certification:

  • Exam Details: Test format varies by certification.
  • Accreditation: The exams are accredited by The National Commission for Certifying Agencies (NCCA).
  • Exam Fees: Depending on test level, base fees vary from $350 to $495, plus a $100 application charge for all exams.
  • Recertification: Professionals must recertify every three years by earning 60 recertification credits during that time.

The HRCI certifications showcase a very defined skillset within the HR space. There is a clear pathway to develop your level of certification over time in the industry. Take a look at their website to learn more about the tests and resources they offer.

So should you get HR certified? SHRM and HRCI certification is a great way to add credibility to your on the job knowledge, advance your career, and stay current with modern HR practices. If you’re looking to rise in the field, taking a certification exam can give you credibility and demonstrate your industry knowledge.

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