Top 5 Reasons You Should Earn a SHRM Certification

Last updated: Jan 17, 2023

Training for and achieving a professional certification from the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) is an invaluable tool as you build or expand your human resources career. SHRM certification is a distinction that indicates to your employer you have achieved a high level of HR knowledge and skills, as well as an understanding of the strategic importance of HR to your organization’s success. When your résumé features those SHRM letters, followed by CP and/or SCP, you’re sending the message that you’re serious about your HR career. Earning a SHRM credential does require time and focus. If you’re not sure about making the commitment right now, consider our ranking of the lucrative, career-changing, and personally empowering top 5 reasons you should earn a SHRM certification. 

Human resources professional talking to an employee

5. It Can Inspire Creative Thinking

SHRM exam prep courses are designed to be truly useful in the workplace. SHRM reports that 73 percent of test-takers say the content is relevant to their jobs. Even if you’re a seasoned pro, you will be amazed at the breadth of ideas you’ll learn in SHRM training courses. Yes, you’ll brush up on acronyms and regulations, but you’ll also see how other HR pros (your classmates and instructors) resolve conflict, interact with leadership, and help their organizations make strides toward equity, engagement, and effectiveness. These creative exchanges will help you learn more about the "human" in human resources, which can inspire you to lead positive changes in your corporate culture and in your career.

4. It Can Boost Your Confidence

Demonstrating expertise (and posting those coveted SHRM credentials in your email signature) can elevate your faith in your skills. Even if your HR role does not require certification, the lack of it could be hampering your self-assurance on the job. When 34 percent of HR professionals have at least one credential, according to a 2018 PayScale survey, it makes sense for you to be one of them. More important, if your aspirations go beyond your current role to the executive ranks, be aware that high-level HR managers are very likely to have a credential: 51 percent of vice presidents of HR hold a certification. So, SHRM certification can make it clear to your current and future employers that human resources is a priority to you. That’s a lot of self-validation (and career validation) in a few weeks of studying.

Which SHRM Credential Is Right for You?

Your eligibility to sit for either exam is based on a combination of your education (including whether you studied HR in college) and your professional work experience. In broad terms, SHRM Certified Professional is for those in the early stages of their HR careers, and SHRM Senior Certified Professional is for those with at least six years of experience. USF’s Office of Corporate Training and Professional Education breaks it down like this:

SHRM-CP is right for you if you have earned:

  • No bachelor’s degree but spent at least three years in an HR role
  • A bachelor’s degree and spent at least one year in an HR role
  • A graduate degree and are working in an HR role

SHRM-SCP is right for you if you have earned:

  • No bachelor’s degree but spent at least six years in an HR role
  • A bachelor’s degree and spent at least four years in an HR role
  • A graduate degree and spent at least three years in an HR role

An HR professional shaking hands with a colleague in an office

3. It Can Help You Get a Raise

Your median pay could increase by as much as 54 percent as your certification level increases from SHRM-CP to SHRM-SCP, according to a large salary survey conducted by PayScale. In 2018, the median pay for SHRM-CP was $70,000. With the SHRM-SCP credential, the median salary reported was $107,800. SHRM only started to offer the HR certifications in 2015, so trends are not fully established, but the PayScale survey found the median SHRM-CP certification holder reaped a 23 percent pay boost in 2018 compared to someone with no certification. SHRM-SCP holders saw an 89 percent boost in median pay in 2018. The takeaway: It pays to be SHRM-certified.

2. It Can Benefit Your Employer

Your manager stands to gain as much from your SHRM certification as you do because you will return to work with useful knowledge of best practices that will inform the way you handle the day-to-day business of HR, from recruitment to retention to risk management. The certifications’ technical and behavioral competencies were developed with the input and research of more than 35,000 HR professionals, universities, and global organizations, so SHRM offers current, functional, and universally applicable material recognized worldwide. Your organization will reap the rewards of your knowledge, and you will have the credentials to prove you’ve nailed it. If you’re lucky, your employer also will see the wisdom in paying for it.

1. It Can Accelerate Your Career

The upward trend for your career increases year over year with SHRM certification, both in salary and in promotions. According to that same PayScale survey, 82 percent of entry-level HR employees who hold a credential received a promotion in the previous five years, versus 68 percent of those without certification. Even top-level directors with at least one certification increase their odds of promotion by almost 25 percent. So, if you’re gunning for a promotion or seeking a new position in human resources, SHRM certifications will move recruiters to take a keener interest in your résumé and will give you the confidence to demand what you’re worth.

Employees sitting at a conference room table having a productive meeting

Why Choose USF for SHRM Certification?

USF offers a range of formats to help you prepare for SHRM certification exams, including our new self-paced online course. Earning your SHRM credential from USF adds to your certification the prestige of a Preeminent Research University and the benefit of SHRM-certified instructors who have more than 25 years of experience training HR professionals in the Tampa Bay area. We invite you to find out more about our online course, our three-week intensive session, and our 14-week session offered in Tampa or St. Petersburg.

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