Organizational Wellness

What is a SHRM Certified Professional?

Jan 23, 2023
Last Updated Oct 23, 2023

Remember the excitement of hunting for your first HR job after college? Perhaps you expected fierce competition and lucrative offers, but, more likely, faced the challenge of a lack of HR experience.

Fortunately, through your hard work, you eventually found your way into a job in HR. But it can feel like the process starts over every time you reach for the next position. 

That's where HR certifications come in. Achieving SHRM Certified Professional (SHRM CP) status can elevate your HR career and enhance your workplace impact. Here’s how.

The Ultimate Guide to HR.png

So, What is a SHRM CP?

A SHRM certified professional is an individual who has passed the SHRM certification exam and has met the requirements for experience, education, and professional conduct. The SHRM certification is nationally recognized and demonstrates mastery of HR best practices.

To be certified, an individual needs to show relevant education and experience, and pass an exam administered by SHRM. The exam questions are around topics such as HR-specific knowledge, situational judgment, and leadership principles. The exam lasts four hours in length and contains 134 questions.

Earning a SHRM certification means that you have met the highest standards in the Human Resources field. The certification proves that you know how to manage employee relations, recruitment and selection processes, compensation, benefits, and more. As a SHRM certified professional, you can improve your company’s bottom line by ensuring that employees are productive and happy.

Who Should Consider Becoming a SHRM Certified Professional?

If you want to show your dedication to HR, you might want to consider becoming an SHRM certified professional. Earning the credential can help you stand out as a prospect and may lead to new career opportunities.

If you are interested in becoming a SHRM-certified professional, it is recommended to meet certain eligibility requirements. They include one or more of the following:

  • Currently work in or are studying Human Resource Management.
  • A competency of HR at the operational level  (e.g, implementing policies, supporting day-to-day HR functions, or serving as an HR point of contact for staff and stakeholders). 
  • Ability to commit time and resources to study for the exam and take the required assessments. 

In addition, applicants must show proof of at least 1,000 hours of HR-related work experience in one calendar year. Students studying HR need to prove 500 hours of HR-related work.

  • Non-HR job titles: If your job title is not related to HR but you have completed the 1,000 hours of HR-related work, you can qualify.
  • Supervisors of HR Professionals: Supervising an HR professional isn’t enough to qualify if you do not personally perform HR-related duties as part of your own job.
  • Contractors: The hours still count if you have completed them as a consultant.
  • Part-time Work: As long as the 1,000 hours were completed in one calendar year, part-time employees can qualify.
  • Students: Students must be currently enrolled in their final year of an undergraduate or graduate program. The university also must be approved by SHRM’s Academic Initiatives staff as being aligned to SHRM’s curriculum guidelines.

What are the Benefits of Becoming a SHRM Certified Professional?

Earning your SHRM certification means that you have met rigorous standards and demonstrated your expertise in human resources management. The certification is globally recognized and indicates that you are aleader in HR.

The benefits of earning your SHRM certification include the following:

  • Increased credibility among colleagues or hiring managers
  • Demonstration of mastery of HR concepts and commitment to the field
  • Enhanced career prospects or better job opportunities
  • Higher salaries by making it easier to apply for more senior roles
  • Greater job security
  • Boost in job confidence

Additionally, SHRM CPs are sometimes eligible for discounts on continuing education courses and other professional development opportunities.

What Does the SHRM Certification Entail?

The Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) offers two certifications to certify human resources professionals: the SHRM Certified Professional (SHRM-CP)and the SHRM Senior Certified Professional (SHRM-SCP). The certifications are designed to recognize HR practitioners who demonstrate their HR knowledge and skills.

SHRM Certified Professional Exams

You can choose to take the exam in person or remotely. The four-hour certification exam contains multiple-choice questions testing your knowledge of the material and your ability to apply that knowledge in practical scenarios. The idea is to test your situational judgment and how you use HR practices.

The Buros Center for Testing, an institution dedicated to promoting excellence in credentialing, has accredited the HR credentials, meaning they meet the highest standards.

SHRM-CP vs. SHRM-SCP Certification

The SHRM-CP primarily aims at entry-level HR professionals, while the SHRM-SCP is geared toward more experienced professionals with 5+ years of experience in the HR field. Both certifications require a rigorous application process that entails passing a multiple choice exam.

HR professionals primarily engaged in operational roles should pursue the SHRM-CP. This credential is perfect for HR pros whose responsibilities include policy and procedure implementation, employee relations coordination, and daily administrative tasks.

The SHRM-SCP is perfect for senior professionals whose responsibilities include strategic planning. Strategic matters can encompass several big tasks, such as matching HR strategies to company goals, directing the staff responsible for HR operations, and developing policies after analyzing performance data.

Should You Certify Your Team?

If you are in charge of HR management, certifying your team as SHRM certified professionals is an excellent way to ensure they have the knowledge and skills to excel in HR. It also provides an incentive for your best team members to stick around and invest in their career development.

Not only does it give them a competitive edge, but it can also bring impressive results for your business. Setting your HR team up for success has a trickle down effect on the rest of the employees. Some of these effects include: 

  • A more tight knit, supportive work environment leading to higher performance across the board. 
  • Higher workplace satisfaction, both in the HR department and in others. 
  • An increase in motivation and passion for propelling the business forward. 

If you’re considering pursuing a SHRM certification for your team, ensure they have the time and resources required to study for and pass the exam. In addition, be sure that everyone on your team is committed to acquiring and maintaining these HR competencies. 

What Does it Cost to Become a SHRM Certified Professional?

The cost of certifying each individual depends on the country of residence and whether or not they are members of the SHRM network.

Typically, the exam fee ranges anywhere from $300-$600, depending on these factors and others.

If you’re considering obtaining your SHRM certification, you’ll need to spend time preparing for the exam. You can do self-study through eLearning or participate in instructor-led courses that guide you through the SHRM body of applied skills and knowledge.

A couple of self-study options are the SHRM learning system, which ranges between $1,025 and $1,150, and SHRM on Demand, which you can subscribe to annually at $239 (for members) or $379 (for nonmembers).

What material is covered in the SHRM certification learning? 

The figures above might be a hefty sum, but it’s for good reason. It’s easy to see why SHRM certification is such an essential investment for HR professionals when you understand the valuable education you’ll receive. 

Topics you’ll learn during your SHRM certification education include: 

  • Talent acquisition and retention (e.g., How to turn the tides on the great resignation)
  • Compensation and benefits (e.g., Understanding all benefit options)
  • Employee growth and development (e.g., Offering training programs, performance appraisals, and mentorship opportunities)
  • Employee engagement and relationship management (e.g., Providing a positive work environment with open communication)
  • HR technology (e.g., Learning the software used to track employee performance, automate applicant tracking systems, follow employment law best practices, etc.)
  • Strategic planning and decision-making (e.g., Planning for new workplace trends)


Recertification for SHRM certified professionals is a mandatory process that must be completed every three years to maintain the certification. The recertification fee is $100 for SHRM members and $150 for nonmembers.

The criteria for recertification include either re-taking the exam or completing 60 Professional Development Credits (PDCs) over a 3-year period. You can earn PDCs by completing HR-related training, attending webinars and conferences, or taking online courses.

Additionally, SHRM certified professionals must stay current on the latest HR trends and remain active in the HR community by engaging in professional networking opportunities provided by the SHRM community. 

Investing in Organizational Wellness

Elevating your HR career and setting yourself up for future opportunities is a great use of time and resources. Regardless of if you choose to invest in becoming SHRM certified, there’s one lesson you can take away right now: adaptation and innovation are key.

Both the workplace and the world of HR are constantly changing. It is essential for employers to learn about what their ideal employees value, like investing in health and wellness programs that keep your workforce happy and flourishing. As Wellhub found in our recent report, The State of Work-Life Wellness 2024, 93% of workers consider their wellbeing at work to be equally important to their salary, which is up from 83% in 2022.

After all, isn’t a thriving network of employees the reason you signed up to work in HR in the first place? Wellhub can help you foster a happier and healthier workforce, with access to dozens of gyms and health apps. Speak to one of our wellbeing specialists and see how you can improve the wellbeing of your employees!

Talk to a Wellhub Wellbeing Specialist_US1.png



Wellhub Editorial Team

The Wellhub Editorial Team empowers HR leaders to support worker wellbeing. Our original research, trend analyses, and helpful how-tos provide the tools they need to improve workforce wellness in today's fast-shifting professional landscape.


Our weekly newsletter is your source of education and inspiration to help you create a corporate wellness program that actually matters.

By subscribing you agree Wellhub may use the information to contact you regarding relevant products and services. Questions? See our Privacy Policy.