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How to Earn SHRM Certification

By Steve Smith

The information presented here is true and accurate as of the date of publication. DeVry’s programmatic offerings and their accreditations are subject to change. Please refer to the current academic catalog for details.


February 20, 2024
5 min read

Certifications play an important role in the career development of professionals in a broad range of industries. Typically offered by third-party organizations that set standards for practices, professional development and ethical conduct, industry certifications can offer a variety of benefits to business professionals, from enhancing their resumes to helping elevate their careers.

In this article, we will explore SHRM certification, how the credential is defined, describe who is eligible to receive it, the certification exam that you must pass, and how it can benefit you in your career. 

What is SHRM Certification?

We’ll begin by explaining what SHRM certification is. But before doing that, what does SHRM stand for? SHRM is the Society for Human Resource Management, an organization dedicated to the advancement of the human resource management (HRM) profession. As an organization, SHRM has supported more than 100,000 employers representing a staggering 140 million employees worldwide.

According to information on the SHRM website, SHRM certification is the only human resources (HR) certification offered by the world’s largest HR membership organization. This certification focuses on the knowledge and abilities professionals in a range of human resources careers need to be proficient in HR practices.  

Different Types of Certification

If you are an HR professional or a student wishing to validate or expand your HR capabilities, you are likely a candidate for SHRM certification. There are two SHRM certifications targeted toward different HR professionals based on their role and level of experience in the field.  

  • SHRM-CP: The SHRM-Certified Professional credential is intended for HR professionals in a role that is primarily operational. This may include someone who implements policies, serves as the HR department’s point of contact for employees and stakeholders and performs daily HR functions. 

  • SHRM-SCP: The SHRM-Senior Certified Professional certification is designed for senior-level HR professionals in strategic roles, SHRM’s senior-level credential is for HR leaders who develop policies and strategies, oversee the execution of completely integrated HR operations, analyze performance metrics and lead the alignment of HR strategies to their organization’s goals. 

SHRM Certification Eligibility

The SHRM-CP is intended for people who perform general HR-related duties, or for students and those pursuing a career in HRM. The SHRM-CP exam is designed to assess candidates’ competency at the operational level. 

Candidates aren’t required to hold an HR title, nor do they need an HRM degree or previous HR experience to apply. SHRM does recommend, however, that candidates have a basic working knowledge of HR practices. Certain academic programs that are aligned with SHRM’s HR Curriculum Guidebook and Templates, such as DeVry’s Bachelor’s Degree Specialization in Human Resource Management, may be a good step toward gaining this basic knowledge. 

The SHRM-SCP is the senior-level credential, intended for individuals with a bit more HRM experience – at least 3 years performing strategic-level HR-related duties, as described in the previous section, or for those who’ve held the SHRM-CP credential for a minimum of 3 years and are working in, or transitioning to, a strategic role. As with the SHRM-CP, candidates for this certification are not required to hold an HR title or have an HR degree to apply. 

Applicants for the SHRM-SCP must be able to demonstrate they’ve devoted a minimum of 1,000 hours per calendar year to strategic-level, HR-related work. 

Benefits of SHRM Certification

Going beyond mere resume enhancement, SHRM certification has the potential to deliver career-building advantages to HR professionals. Here are just a few, according to SHRM:

  • Enhanced HR knowledge: According to SHRM, HR professionals who earn SHRM certification may experience enhanced levels of credibility among their peers.  

  • Career advancement: If a SHRM certification is listed as a preferred qualification for HR job candidates, those who’ve earned SHRM certification may see it become a useful tool when working toward career advancement.

  • Demonstrated professional commitment: SHRM states that their certified HR professionals may experience a sense of personal pride and commitment to their profession, which may increase their motivation to work toward success in their field. 

The SHRM Certification Exam

SHRM certification candidates have the option of taking the SHRM-CP or SHRM-SCP exam in person at an authorized test center or at home, through live remote proctoring. After an application process, candidates receive an Authorization to Test letter with instructions on how to schedule their exam date and choose the testing option that works best for them.

Detailed exam information on the SHRM website includes a schedule of exam and retesting fees for SHRM members, non-members, students and members of the military. 

The timed exams are delivered via computer, divided into two 110-minute sections that contain a total of 134 multiple-choice questions. The 4-hour testing schedule consists of these 5 events:

  • Confidentiality reminder (2 minutes) 

  • Introduction and tutorial (8 minutes)

  • Exam section 1 (up to 1 hour and 50 minutes) 

  • Exam section 2 (up to 1 hour and 50 minutes)

  • Survey (5 minutes) 

The SHRM-CP and SHRM-SCP exams are made up of 2 types of multiple-choice questions: Stand-alone questions that measure a candidate’s knowledge and understanding of factual information, and scenario-based items that measure a candidate’s judgement and decision-making skills when presented with HR-related scenarios.

Preparing for the SHRM Exams:

SHRM exam candidates can prepare to take the tests by reviewing SHRM’s Body of Applied Skills and Knowledge (SHRM BASK), a competency framework that defines the functional areas and behavioral competencies covered in the exams. SHRM also offers the SHRM Learning System, which contains practice questions, interactive study tools and other test-prep resources. 

Prepare to Pursue a Human Resource Management Career with DeVry

If you want to focus your career on working with people, DeVry can help you get started. Our Bachelor’s Degree Specialization in Human Resource Management, which can be earned as part of our Bachelor’s Degrees in Business Administration, Management or Technical Management,  can help you develop a strong foundation in business and management with a concentration on talent management. This online degree program can help you learn how to perform vital HR management duties like designing pay structures, developing employee policies, working with executive teams to meet hiring and employment goals and more, with a curriculum aligned with SHRM’s HR Curriculum Guidebook and Templates.

If you’re an experienced HR professional looking to expand your skillset, our Graduate Certificate in Human Resource Management can help you enhance your knowledge of employment law, human capital management, team building and much more. This online certificate can also stack directly into our Master’s Degree in Human Resource Management, allowing you to apply qualifying credits earned in your certificate program toward your master’s at DeVry.1 We also offer an MBA with a Specialization in Human Resources at the graduate level.  

1At the time of application to the next credential level, an evaluation of qualifying transfer credit will occur and the most beneficial outcome will be applied. Future programmatic changes could impact the application of credits to a future program. Refer to the academic catalog for details.

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