7 Best HR Certifications to Advance Your Career

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7 Best HR Certifications to Advance Your Career

HR certifications are a popular way of career advancement for HR professionals. Let’s have a look at 7 HR certifications and who they’re for to help you choose the right HR certification program for you!

Why get an HR certification?
Best HR certifications
– Academy to Innovate HR (AIHR) 
– Professional in Human Resources (PHR) by the HR Certification Institute (HRCI)
– SHRM Certified Professional (SHRM-CP) and SHRM Senior Certified Professional (SHRM-SCP)
– Strategic HR Leadership (SHRL) by the Human Capital Institute
– Certified Human Resources Professional (CHRP) by HRPA
– Talent Management Practitioner by the Talent Management Institute
– Certified Professional in Learning and Performance (CPLP) by The Association for Talent Development (ATD)

Why get an HR certification?

Human resources is a field in which it’s critical to be able to demonstrate how knowledgeable you are to employers. It’s also continually changing so one must always stay up-to-date with employment laws and HR best practices. In fact, many employers request HR certification as a job requirement. 

HR certification can support your long-term career success. Studies have also shown that those who further their education through certification programs improve their earnings potential over the life of their careers — by as much as 44%. And if you want to start a new career, an HR certification can help you get a head start. 

The good news is that there are many ways to earn HR certification, including the convenience of HR certification programs online. In this article, we’ve included HR certifications that are accessible to students worldwide.

HR Certification Benefits

Best HR certifications

Ready to pursue a coveted certificate in human resources? Here’s a rundown of the top HR certifications to consider.

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Please note that this list is compiled based on publicly available information. We have not tried the courses ourselves, with the exception of AIHR’s certificate programs.

1. Academy to Innovate HR (AIHR) 

Program overview: AIHR is a fully accredited course library of HR certification programs online that provide domain-specific learning and certification. Students can enroll in the academy for the full experience and earn multiple specialist certifications, or they can focus on one area of interest at a time. The 9 HR certificate programs include:

  1. Organizational Development
  2. Strategic HR Leadership 
  3. Diversity and Inclusion 
  4. People/HR Analytics 
  5. Digital HR
  6. HR Business Partner 2.0 
  7. HR Metrics and Dashboarding
  8. Learning and Development
  9. Talent Acquisition

All courses are delivered online through interactive lessons, videos, and activities that are designed to help students meet the challenges of a career as an HR professional. Instructors are top HR professionals who share real-world knowledge.

The certificate programs aim to help you become a T-shaped HR professional through building four core HR competencies:

Each HR certificate program takes around 30-40 hours to complete. Lessons are self-paced and students have up to 12 months from enrollment to complete each course. 

Who it’s for: Human Resource professionals of all experiences. Courses range from entry-level to advanced subjects. 

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Eligibility requirements: No prior experience in HR needed.

Cost of program: Individual HR certification courses are $997 or students can enroll in the Academy for $1,797 to gain 18-month access to all certification programs and the benefit of extended time to complete them. Payment in installments is also available. 

2. Professional in Human Resources (PHR) by the HR Certification Institute (HRCI)

Program overview: The HR Certification Institute has offered a range of human resource certifications for many years. Starting with the Professional in Human Resources (PHR), with certification levels in the senior and global areas of human resource management careers, it’s possible to start your journey and earn advanced certification as you gain on-the-job-experience and increased levels of responsibility.

Candidates can sit for the associate level certification (aPHR) and then they advance to the PHR, SPHR, and GPHR. There is also an internet-only version of this certification, complete with a digital badge. Most students study for 6-9 months before taking the exams. The exam is proctored by Pearson.

Who it’s for: Human Resources professionals who are just starting out with limited experience all the way to senior and global leaders in HR. 

Eligibility requirements: Candidates must have at least a year’s experience in HR and a Masters’s degree or two years of experience in HR and a Bachelor’s degree. They must participate in an HRCI-approved training course, followed by being accepted by application.

Cost of program: HRCI partners with hundreds of approved certification preparation providers, including AIHR. Programs and costs vary widely by provider, and there is a non-refundable application fee of $100 and the exam cost varies by level. A PHR exam fee is $395 while a GDPR exam fee is $595. 

3. SHRM Certified Professional (SHRM-CP) and SHRM Senior Certified Professional (SHRM-SCP)

Overview of Program: The Society for Human Resources Management started offering their own competency-based HR certification program just a few years ago. It’s based on the core knowledge of SHRM Body of Competency & Knowledge™ (SHRM BoCK) which supports the career goals of HR professionals to achieve their personal best in HR. The course and exams focus on leadership success as well as organizational strategy.

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They do offer specialty areas, including focuses on the HR department of one, immigration laws, workplace investigations, talent acquisition, inclusive culture, and people analytics. California HR professionals can also find certification specific to their region. Most students study for 6 months prior to taking the exam.

Who it’s for: Since it’s a fully comprehensive program, covering all aspects of HR work, this program is a good fit for HR generalists. 

Eligibility requirements: The SHRM certification program has a complex set of eligibility criteria for those who wish to pursue this. Please review it against your experience in HR. 

Cost of program: Fees for taking the exam vary by the type of certification and status as a candidate, with discounts for students and SHRM members. 

4. Strategic HR Leadership (SHRL) by the Human Capital Institute

Overview of program: The Human Capital Institute offers access to the Strategic HR Leadership (SHRL) as well as several other competency-based certification programs for HR. Participant materials, guides, practice tests, and mentor support are offered via the HCI Academy. Students can participate in 2-day programs or the virtual series with half-day sessions for up to 4 weeks. Students must pass the online exam to earn the certification.  

Who it’s for: The SHRL certification is a good fit for those new to HR leadership roles and the challenges they face. Their site indicates anyone who leads a team, wants to be a people leader, or needs to improve their team’s performance should participate. 

Eligibility requirements: There are no prerequisites for this training. However, in order to earn the certificate, students must attend all sessions, participate in group discussions, complete all classwork and submit an evaluation, in addition to passing the final exam. 

Cost of program: The SHRL certificate program online costs $1,195. 

5. Certified Human Resources Professional (CHRP) by HRPA

Program overview: The Human Resources Professionals Association (HRPA) offers the exclusive Certified Human Resources Professional (CHRP) credential. They also offer two additional more advanced credentials, including the Certified Human Resources Leader (CHRL) and the Certified Human Resources Executive (CHRE).

Students must complete a series of nine subject areas relevant to HR by taking college courses through a network of colleges and universities in Canada, which are reviewed for approval, then sit for challenge exams. There is also a workforce readiness program to support those who wish to pursue a career in HR. 

Who it’s for: The CHRP appears to be a good fit for those who are already pursuing studies in HR or have earned a degree. The credentials are for HRPA members in good standing only. 

Eligibility requirements: The HRPA has some unique requirements to be eligible to earn CHRP certification. You must become a member and participate in their course and exam schedule.

Cost of program: The cost for the program can vary. To be eligible you must become a member of HRPA and membership costs depend on your status, what month you join, and if you reside in Canada or outside Canada. Courses and exams also carry their own fees. 

6. Talent Management Practitioner by the Talent Management Institute

Program overview: The Talent Management Practitioner certification offered by the Talent Management Institute is focused on those who wish to move into careers in talent management. This is one of the fastest-growing areas of HR today, with high earnings potential. The program consists of a TMP Resource Box containing all the books and other learning material needed to take the exam, which is offered online. 

Who it’s for: The TMI online certification is designed for those graduating from college or university with a focus on HR and talent management. 

Eligibility requirements: The program requires candidates to meet certain educational and work experiences, and they use a special tool to validate candidates prior to approving them for the program. 

Cost of program: $625 USD all-inclusive, plus taxes.

7. Certified Professional in Learning and Performance (CPLP) by The Association for Talent Development (ATD)

Program overview: Known for its leading training in areas of professional development, The Association for Talent Development (ATD) provides access to various certifications including the Certified Professional in Learning and Performance (CPLP). It covers a broad range of topics relating to talent development across multiple skill sets and aptitudes. The program can be accessed in-person, online, or through weekend workshops, or students may self-study using ATD resources. The exam is rigorous and students are advised to prepare well in advance; many report taking six to nine months to study. 

Who it’s for: HR professionals who are dedicated to professional development and learning initiatives. 

Eligibility requirements: Must have five years of related work experience with deep knowledge of employee talent development principles and 60 hours of professional development.

Cost of program: The CPLP preparation course is $1,895 for non-members, with the option to add a two-day workshop for $495 more. Members of ATD are eligible for discounts. 


Have questions? We’ve got answers about HR certification programs! Before you enroll in any program, here is what you need to know.

What is an HR certification?

HR certification helps you gain new knowledge, skills, and experience through courses, assignments, and exams, and demonstrate this to your (potential) employer. It is a popular way of career advancement for HR professionals.

Why is HR certification important?

While earning one or more of these credentials is no substitute for work experience and a college degree, HR certification proves to others that you are dedicated to the field of human resources. Earning an HR certification through any one of these organizations speaks volumes in that you are showing interest in learning more to become more effective in your career. The value of a certification varies, depending on if it’s issued by an accredited educational institute and if it’s approved for learner credits.

What’s more, HR certifications can also help boost your pay.

Which is the best HR certification?

The best HR certification is dependent upon your individual needs and career objectives. There is no one-size-fits-all for all human resource professionals. However, here are some recommendations. Starting out, you may want to obtain certification that can lead to skills that will help you land your first human resource job. This extra effort will position you well for any career in HR. Once you get more experience, an advanced HR certification can be highly beneficial to your professional growth and your income. Keep in mind that HR certification is much more convenient to earn today through online learning.

How long does it take to get HR certification?

Again, that depends on the course you’re taking. For example, if a course is 40 hours long and you dedicate 4 hours a week, then you will be done in 10 weeks. However, getting some HR certifications might take a couple of months or even years. Decide what you can commit to before selecting an HR certification course. 

When you decide to get an HR certification, make sure to commit to studying. You can do this by blocking time off your calendar or setting progress milestones for yourself.

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