SHRM Certification CP and SCP Review: Is it Worth it?

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.

To learn more via video, watch below. Otherwise, skip ahead to continue reading.

What is the SHRM Certification?

The SHRM Certification is a global human resource credential offered by the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), a professional HR membership association.

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.


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 procedure implementation, employee relations coordination, and other day-to-day administrative tasks, the SHRM-CP is your best alternative.

SHRM CP vs. SHRM SCP certificationIf 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:

Advantages 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.

Human Resources Certifications

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.

Recertification Requirements

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:

  1. Earn 60 professional development credits (PDCs) within your three-year recertification cycle
  2. 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.

Frequently Asked Questions

Here are answers to some additional common questions about the SHRM certification:

What does SHRM certification mean?

SHRM certification means that you are certified through the Society for Human Resources Management (SHRM). SHRM is a global organization that deals with HR and employer-employee relations.

How do you qualify for SHRM certification?

To qualify for the SHRM certification, you should have a bachelor’s degree from an accredited university or college. You also need to have completed at least 12 months of experience in HR and meet all other eligibility requirements for SHRM certification.

How much does a SHRM certification cost?

The SHRM certification costs between ​$149 and $400 depending on if you’re already a member.

Is the SHRM test hard?

The SHRM test is not an easy test to take. It is extensive and will require a lot of studying, but all SHRM certification exams are designed in the same way with fair questions


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.


Josh Fechter
Josh Fechter is the founder of HR.University. He's a certified HR professional and has managed global teams across 5 different continents including their benefits and payroll. You can connect with him on LinkedIn here.