5 Best Human Resource (HR) Certifications and Courses Online

5 Best Human Resource (HR) Certifications and Courses Online

Interested in getting a human resource certification?

That’s a smart move. 

A credible human resource certification will act as a catalyst in your HR career, regardless of where you are in your professional journey.

If you are committed to your professional development and to the overall growth of the HR profession, getting a HR certification will help you achieve your goals. 

Benefits of Getting a Human Resource Certification

HR-certified professionals encounter many advantages during their careers. These are a few of them:

  • Advantage during recruiting processes. With a certification, you get a step ahead of most other applicants.
  • Possibility to leverage certification when asking for promotions. Certification might be the extra push that is missing for that much-expected job promotion.
  • Opportunity to keep expanding knowledge. Knowing that you have a certification exam coming up is an extra motivation for you to review HR concepts that you don’t normally study.
  • Higher salary. According to research, HR-certified professionals’ salary average is almost double of non-certified professionals’ salary average.
  • Boost in recognition and confidence. A self-confidence boost and fellow professionals’ recognition are key to increase job satisfaction and professional fulfillment.
  • Demonstrated commitment to the profession. When managers see your long-term commitment to the profession, they will start trusting bigger responsibilities on you.

Getting certified sounds like an easy choice, right? 

Well, the challenging decision comes when you have to pick the best certification for you. There are many HR certifications and courses available online, but not all of them will give you the knowledge and recognition you are looking for.

5 Best Human Resource Certification and Courses

To help you to choose the certification that will bring you the best return to your investments -- both time and money -- I will share the most widely recognized courses and licenses. This will help you to understand which one applies best for your case. Let’s explore:

My RankSite NameQuality (1-5 Stars)
1.Senior Certified Professional (SHRM-SCP)★★★★★
2.Certified Professional (SHRM-CP)★★★★★
3.Professional in Human Resources (PHR)★★★★
4.HR Management and Analytics Program by Wharton School of Business★★★
5.Human Resources Management by eCornell ★★★

1. Society for Human Resource Management - Senior Certified Professional (SHRM-SCP)

As the most widely recognized credential in the industry, this certification has rigorous eligibility criteria. If you hold a Master’s degree with HR specialization, you need at least 3 years of work experience in the industry. But if you have only a Bachelor’s degree, you need 4 or more years of industry experience. 

The SHRM-SCP consists of a four-hour exam containing two types of multiple-choice questions: knowledge-based and scenario-based. This is not a course, you are responsible for studying the exam concepts on your own.

The pass rate for the SHRM-SCP exam is around 50%. This means that one out of two applicants were not ready for this certification level. So, being legally qualified to sit for this exam doesn’t mean being prepared for it.

Keep in mind that if you decide to go for this certification, you must be ready to dedicate at least a few hours per week for a couple of months for the preparation.

How Much Does the SHRM-SCP Costs?

Becoming a senior SHRM certified professional costs $475 USD, if you are not a member of the Society of Human Resources Management. There is also a $50 USD application fee, which makes the total investment $525 USD for non-members. Members of the SHRM get $100 USD off the certification price. 

Who Should Take the SHRM-SCP?

The SHRM-SCP is designed for senior human resources professionals whose roles’ focus is strategic matters. If your responsibilities include aligning HR strategies with the organizational goals, managing people who implement HR operations, and developing policies based on the analysis of performance metrics, you should be able to get this certification.

SHRM - SCP is best for individuals who already have a few other credentials. If you are already a member of the Society for Human Resources Management, that’s also a great option for you, since the organization provides resources that can be helpful during the preparation.

Also, if you're looking to boost your HR resume to get your dream job, then it can be advantageous if your hiring manager is familiar with SHRM -SCP.

2. Society for Human Resource Management - Certified Professional (SHRM-CP)

With less rigorous qualification requirements, the SHRM-CP is an excellent option for professionals who carry fewer years of experience in the field but want to demonstrate professional credibility.

Individuals who have a Bachelor’s degree in the HR field are required to have only one year of experience in the industry, while every individual who holds an HR Master’s degree is allowed to sit for the exam, as long as they currently hold a position in the human resources field.

If you want to get this certification, you must go through a four-hour exam, just like for the SHRM-SCP. This certification consists of the exam only, there is not a preparatory course included.

Since the SHRM-CP covers less complex topics than the SHRM-SCP, most applicants tend to pass the exam. The approval rate is a little over 70%. 

How Much Does the SHRM-SCP Costs?

The certification exam price is $475 USD for non-members of the SHRM and $375 for its members. There is also a $50 USD application fee for both members and non-members. 

Who Should Take the SHRM-CP?

SHRM-CP certification was developed for individuals who are engaged primarily in operational roles. Most SHRM-CP applicants carry positions that involve responsibilities such as employee relations coordination, policy and procedures implementation, and other day-to-day administrative tasks.

Even though you can get certified with less than a year of professional experience, I recommend this certification for individuals who have between one and two years of HR experience. Being an SHRM - Certified Professional will not only prepare you for higher-level certifications but also open many doors in your career.

3. Professional in Human Resources (PHR)

The Professional in Human Resources credential is offered by the HR Certification Institute (HRCI), and it lies between the SHRM - Certified Professional and the SHRM - Senior Certified Professional, in terms of experience level required. 

To apply for the PHR, individuals who have a Master’s degree, are required to have at least one year of experience to qualify for this certification. And individuals who have a Bachelor’s degree must work in the HR field for at least two years before applying. 

Just like the other two certifications offered by the SHRM, the PHR is not a course, it is just a certification exam. The exam consists of 175 questions, mostly multiple-choice, and participants have three hours to complete it. 

But if you decide to become certified as a Professional in Human Resources by the HRCI, you will need to invest some time to study. The institute offers convenient bundles of self-study exam preparation options, which are an excellent time and money savers. 

Almost 40% of the exam covers employee and labor relations topics. The other 60% of the exam includes business administration, talent acquisition, total rewards, and employee development.

How Much Does the PHR Certification Costs?

The PHR certification exam costs $395 USD but there’s also a $100 USD application fee for all individuals. Once you complete your application, make the payment, and receive the confirmation, you have 120 days to take the exam. 

Who Should Take the PHR Certification?

The PHR is recommended for entry-level HR professionals starting to transition into a mid-career level role. It is best for HR professionals who have experience with program implementation, have a logistical orientation, manages at least one other HR professional, and have responsibilities that focus on the HR department rather than the entire company.

4. HR Management and Analytics Program by Wharton School of Business

The HR Management and Analytics program is a 2-month online course offered by the prestigious Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania. 

Most individuals who complete this course have between five and fifteen years of experience, but different from the other certifications we covered, there are no background requirements. You don't have to have a top-tier HR generalist resume to get accepted.

Students must dedicate between four to six hours per week to complete the coursework, which is delivered through both live and recorded video lectures, real-world examples, and assignments.

The course goes over talent management, compensation, rewards, staffing, systems of work, and collaborations networks, but all with an emphasis on people analytics.

Upon successful completion of the program, you will earn a digital certificate of completion from The Wharton School, which you can show off on your LinkedIn and on your resume.

How Much Does the HR Management and Analytics Program Costs?

Since this certification offers a comprehensive course, it represents a larger financial investment than certifications that consist of exams only. This Wharton’s program costs $2,800 USD, with flexible payment options available.

Who Should Take the HR Management and Analytics Course?

This program is best for mid to senior-level professionals who are looking to get access to premium learning resources, improve specifically their HR analytics skills, and obtain a HR certificate from one of the best educational institutions in the world.

5. Human Resources Management by eCornell 

This is a complete certificate program composed of nine mini-courses. Each mini-course takes 2 weeks to be completed, which means that the program lasts between four and five months. 

This online program is much like a traditional college course. If you decide to enroll, you will be led by a few instructors and will have about 30 other students sharing the courses with you. 

The course covers a wide variety of HR management topics, which makes it a great resource for individuals starting off the career or transitioning from a different area. The program does not have enrollment requirements, all levels of expertise are welcome.

In order to successfully complete the course, you must dedicate between three to five hours per week to watch the lectures, interact with classmates, and complete assignments. After you complete the nine mini-courses, you will receive a Human Resources Management Certificate from Cornell ILR School.

How Much Does the Human Resources Management Program Costs?

As the option with more learning resources, this is also the most expensive alternative. The Human Resources Management program costs $5,400 USD. You also have the option of doing nine monthly payments of $650 USD. 

Who Should Take the Human Resources Management Program Course?

This program is best for aspiring HR professionals or individuals who have just started their careers in human resources, such as HR coordinator professionals. Ideally, these people are looking to step up their careers with an Ivy League credential to get a HR director or HR manager salary. Another aspect to consider is whether you have the availability to dedicate a few hours per week for the next four to five months.

Leverage the Right HR Certification to Step Up Your Career

Now that you know your best human resource certification options, you are ready to make a decision. Consider how much time and money you are willing to invest at this point in your career.

Keep in mind that investing in a credible HR certification will bring you many opportunities to develop as a human resources professional. Not only by the coursework, or preparation, itself but also by the recognition that comes with it. 

Make your choice, study hard, and stay competitive in this ever-evolving industry.