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Which HR Certification Is Right for Me?

At HREN, we have a wide selection of HR certification courses. But what are they, and which one is right for you? We’ll break down each to help you pick the right one.

Course Level Breakdown

Each course at HREN varies in difficulty. The one that best suits you depends on your level of experience and what skills or knowledge you want to enhance. You’ll also need to decide if a self-study or an instructor-led course is best for you.

aPHR: Beginner/Entry Level

What is aPHR?: aPHR stands for Associate Professional in Human Resources. It is an HRCI certification designed for individuals just starting their HR career or those looking to transition into the HR field.

Who it’s for: The aPHR course is perfect for those with no HR experience or those with a high-school diploma. More particularly, it is for those new to HR or considering a career in HR who want to gain a better understanding of the field and foundational HR knowledge.

PHR: Intermediate

What is PHR?: The Professional in Human Resources (PHR) certification exam concentrates on the responsibilities within an organization’s HR department, business management, and employee relations. 

Who it’s for: Individuals interested in establishing their career in HR are eligible to sit for this exam if they have some professional experience in HR. For example, requirements include about 1 year of experience with a Master’s degree, 2 years with a Bachelor’s, or 4 years with a high-school diploma.

SHRM-CP: Intermediate

What is SHRM-CP?: Comparable to the PHR, the Society of Human Resource Management-Certified Professional (SHRM-CP) is a certification that helps individuals further understand HR and HR responsibilities at work. The test focuses on leadership, organizational, and workplace skills.

Who it’s for: Previously, the eligibility requirements of the SHRM-CP mirrored those of the PHR, as the certification is similarly designed for professionals currently working in HR. However, SHRM made changes recently to include students in HR-focused programs. With those changes, there are technically NO experience or education requirements beyond a high school diploma, but they do recommend candidates have experience (through work or an academically aligned program) and a working knowledge of HR basic skills. In other words, you’re unlikely to be successful without some foundational knowledge.

SPHR: Expert

A man wearing a striped, long-sleeved shirt studying for SPHR on his laptop

What is SPHR certification?: SPHR stands for Senior Professional in Human Resources. This exam covers employee and labor relations, business management, talent planning, and acquisition for individuals who have spent significant time in an HR career. It confirms or validates an HR professional’s skills and knowledge.

Who it’s for: SPHR is designed for Senior HR professionals with 4-7 years of experience or individuals who have the following experience in HR:

  • 4 years of professional experience with a Master’s degree
  • 5 years of experience with a Bachelor’s degree
  • 7 years of experience with a degree less than a Bachelor’s

SHRM-SCP: Expert

What is SHRM-SCP?: The SHRM Senior Certified Professional (SHRM-SCP), comparable to the SPHR, is designed for individuals responsible for developing and implementing HR policies or procedures and leading projects and strategies to reach an organization’s goals.

Who it’s for: SPHR-SCP is for individuals who have spent significant time (4-7 years) leading or carrying out HR duties and policies. Or, you may qualify for this course if you have the following experience:

  • 3+ years in an HR role with a Master’s degree
  • 4 years or more in an HR position with a Bachelor’s degree
  • 6 years or more in an HR position with a degree less than a Bachelor’s

Still Can’t Decide Which Course Is Right for You? We Can Help!

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Ready to continue your education and become a certified HR professional? At HREN, we offer flexible self-study and instructor-led classes. We also provide an accelerated program for students needing to prepare to take their exams in seven-to-eight weeks. However, if you still need help deciding which course to take, feel free to take our short quiz! Once you complete our quiz, HREN experts can reach out and help you choose the right path for your next step as an HR professional.

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