Introduction - SHRM vs HRCI

As an HR professional, you know that having the right certification can help you advance your career. This post discusses SHRM vs HRCI, the two premier certification organizations for HR professionals.

About the author: Carl Bradford and I've been certifying credits for both SHRM and HRCI through specific Performance-based Certification training for over 25 years. See details below. The following are my observations.

A third of HR professionals have earned some certification. Approximately half of all directors and above hold a certification. This makes it clear that if you aspire to move up the HR career ladder, certification should be a serious goal for you.

IMPORTANT: Remember, you will be competing with certified professional colleagues for new jobs and promotions. When everything else is equal or close, this may be tipping the hiring decision to a certified colleague.

Business leaders find HR-certified professionals to be more self-motivated. Whether that is true or a frequent perception, professional HR certification has a strong tendency to accelerate your HR career options.

However, unlike other professions, human resources professionals do not have a single accepted certification path.

There are now two major players in HR certification: the Society for Human Resources Management (SHRM) and the HR Certification Institute (HRCI) two prominent professional HR management societies that offer certification exams. For many years, they were part of the same organization. In 2014 SHRM created its own series of certifications and at that point, they split up.

Both offer a variety of benefits, but they also have some key differences. So, how do you choose between them? Which HR Certification is Right for You?

Here's a closer look at SHRM vs. HRCI

SHRM Membership

The Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) is considered the largest HR association in the world. They have somewhere north of 300,000 members in more than 165 countries. Their headquarters are in Virginia, and they have local SHRM chapters located throughout the world.

They offer two different HR certifications: SHRM Certified Professional (SHRM-CP) and SHRM Senior Certified Professional (SHRM-SCP).

Benefits of SHRM membership includes hundreds of benefits and resources:

  • Recognition from peers and employers
  • Validates your HR expertise
  • Access to exclusive resources, including the latest research and online tools and templates
  • Access to conferences and specialized HR networks
  • Access to a robust selection of business solutions
  • Discounts on SHRM events and products
  • Career advancement and professional development opportunities
  • Recognition from peers and employers

HRCI Membership

HRCI offers your organization and peers recognition for your accomplishments. Established in 1976, HRCI is the world's largest HR certification organization and gives you credibility from both your company and co-workers.

That makes the Human Resource Certification Institute (HRCI) the leading provider of HR certifications. HRCI is the world's largest HR certification body, with over 500,000 certified members in more than 150 countries. They are also headquartered in Virginia with local chapters worldwide.

They concentrate on specific employment experience, expertise, and education. This necessitates recertification, ensuring that you stay up to date in the HR field through continuing education. Finally, this allows you to add the initials after your name to show professional HR competence right away.

They offer the following eight different HR certifications. These titles and abbreviations are all trademarks of HRCI.

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

Benefits of HRCI membership includes resources:

  • Access to exclusive resources, including online tools and templates
  • Validates your HR expertise
  • Connects you to an exclusive network
  • Provides access to the HRCI Learning Center
  • Discounts on HRCI events and products
  • Career advancement opportunities
  • Recognition from peers and employers

SHRM vs HRCI Certification process

SHRM offers certification through an online application and exam process, while HRCI requires both an application and work experience component.

Benefits of HRCI vs. SHRM Certification

Continuing education: SHRM offers a variety of online courses and events to keep certified professionals up to date on the latest HR trends, while HRCI offers both online and in-person courses.

Recertification: SHRM requires recertification every three years, while HRCI requires recertification every five years.

Membership: SHRM offers membership benefits such as discounts on educational products and access to a variety of networking opportunities, while HRCI does not offer membership benefits.

How you can earn SHRM and HRCI credits.

SHRM: Recertification is required every three years. Professionals need to earn 60 professional development credits (PDCs) to recertify. Your initial recertification cycle starts the day you pass the exam and ends 3 years later, on the last day of your birth month.

HRCI: The SPHR certification is good for three years after passing. To keep your SPHR credential, you must earn 60 recertification credits in three years or take the exam again. You must acquire 60 recertifications and of those 15 must be Business Management & Strategy credits.

You can earn SHRM and HRCI credits by attending certain events or taking certain courses. The number of credits you can earn varies depending on the event or course. However, you can typically earn more credits by attending an event or taking a course that is specifically designed for SHRM or HRCI credit. You can also earn credits by volunteering for certain committees or Boards within SHRM or HRCI.

Performance-based Hiring Certification Credits for SHRM and HRCI

Performance-based Hiring certification turns average recruiters into great recruiters.

I have certified over 2,000 recruiters from many of the nation's largest and most well-known employers as well as many other HR and Recruiter professionals from small to medium businesses, RPOs, and employment search firms.

Performance-based Hiring is the only training course that covers the complete life cycle of recruitment as a business process. These courses are offered both in-person, via online seminar, and online. Courses can be customized for specific companies, industries, and locations. If merited, Performance-based Hiring program can also be taught on-site.

There is the online availability of all course materials and robust resources that are available for up to 12 months after training. For a nominal fee, these course materials are available on an ongoing basis.

NOTE: Contact me using the link below - Carl Bradford - to discuss your hiring challenges and potential discount fees for your team of recruiters.


So, which HR certification is right for you? Both are excellent choices. The answer depends on your career goals and preferences.

Both SHRM and HRCI offer a variety of benefits that can help you advance your career in human resources. If you want a well-rounded HR education, SHRM is an excellent choice. If you're looking for a more specialized HR certification as well as a well-rounded HR and Recruiter education, HRCI may be an even better option. No matter which HR certification you choose, make sure you do your research and pick the one that will best help you achieve your career goals.

If your HR and/or Talent Acquisition team want to learn how to hire more top talent, especially passive candidates and/or gain SHRM and HRCI credits, contact me for a confidential, no-pressure discussion.

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