Organizational Wellness

How to Get SHRM Certified in 5 Steps

Aug 4, 2023
Last Updated Aug 4, 2023

You’re passionate about human resources — And you’re probably also passionate about upskilling to excel in your field and get those nice salary bumps! According to Gallup, upskilling programs in the US increase the average salary by about $8,000 more than those who forego skills training opportunities.

One way to upskill your HR competencies is to get SHRM (Society for Human Resource Management) certified. The certification enhances credibility, which is a crucial factor in how employers select candidates for employment opportunities and promotions. Achieving this certification demonstrates a high commitment to the HR field and shows that you have the skills and competencies necessary to excel in this challenging and rewarding career.

If you are interested in how to get SHRM certified, there are several steps you can take to prepare for the certification process. With the proper preparation and dedication, you can successfully earn your SHRM certification and take your career to the next level.

  1. Determine if SHRM certification is the right fit for you

The first step in how to get SHRM certified is to determine if an HR certification is a right fit for you. It is essential to consider how a SHRM certification will benefit you and how it can help advance your career. Before investing time, money, and effort into completing your certification, make sure that it aligns with your professional development and career goals.

The SHRM certification provides a comprehensive range of knowledge and skills necessary for successful human resources management. It is designed to help professionals understand how to effectively manage and lead within the human resources field.

Skills you’ll learn during your SHRM certification education include: 

  • Ways to improve talent acquisition and retention 
  • Understanding compensation and benefits 
  • How to provide opportunities for employee growth and development
  • Methods to increase employee engagement and relationship management 
  • Strategic planning and decision-making skills 

  1. Understand the different SHRM certification levels and eligibility criteria

You’ll also need to ensure that you meet the eligibility criteria to take the SHRM exam. Although you don’t need to be in an HR role, have previous experience, or even a degree to apply for a SHRM certification, it is recommended that candidates have at least a basic understanding of HR practices and principles.

There are two types of SHRM certifications: the SHRM Certified Professional (SHRM-CP) and the SHRM Senior Certified Professional (SHRM-SCP). 

For a SHRM-CP certification, the following criteria is recommended:

  • Have some HR knowledge or interest in the field.
  • Currently work in or are studying Human Resource Management.
  • Some HR competency at the operational level (e.g., implementing policies, day-to-day HR functions, etc.).

To be eligible for a SHRM-SCP certification, you will need to meet the following eligibility requirements:

  • A minimum of three years of experience performing HR/HR-related work at the strategic level.
  • Or be a SHRM-CP credential holder for a minimum of 3 years and currently working in or transitioning to a strategic level role.

The SHRM-SCP exam evaluates one’s ability to carry out HR work requiring strategic planning. This level of work encompasses responsibilities such as creating HR policies and procedures, presiding over the implementation of integrated HR operations, heading an entire HR department, or steering the matching of HR strategies to organizational objectives.

To be considered, applicants must show that they spent at least 1,000 hours in any given year (Jan. – Dec.) on strategic HR-related work. Part-time work can still qualify as long as the standard of 1,000 hours per calendar year is met.

Refer to the SHRM BASK™ for more information on proficiency standards.

  1. Gather the required documentation and apply for the exam

Depending on the type of certification you seek, you may need different documents in your application. Generally, these documents can include resumes, letters of recommendation, proof of education and/or work experience, and any other relevant information that can help demonstrate your qualifications for the exam.

Once you have gathered all the required documentation, follow these steps:

  1. Choose when to take your exam; either May – July or December – February.
  2. Apply for the exam during your preferred testing window
  3. If needed, arrange testing accommodations.
  4. Enroll for an exam at an in-person test center or schedule a remote proctoring session.
  5. Choose a training program that meets your needs.

Whether you’re looking to earn the SHRM-CP credential or the SHRM-SCP certification, there is a certification program that can fit your specific needs.

Training programs should help you:

  • Create and follow a dedicated study plan.
  • Understand the differences between the SHRM-CP and SHRM-SCP
  • Explore multiple exam preparation options and find the one that works best for you
  • Practice test-taking tips
  • Familiarize you with the entire certification process

The SHRM-CP training program is geared toward professionals who want to gain a foundational understanding of human resources. This program is ideal for those new to the field or who wish to broaden their knowledge and skills in areas like recruitment, retention, organizational development, and talent management.

If you’re interested in more advanced topics, the SHRM-SCP training program is for experienced HR professionals who want to learn how to tackle complex issues. These include topics like compliance and legal risks, workplace strategy, compensation and benefits design, and workforce planning.

Here are a few additional training program options:

  1. Study for the SHRM certification exam

Studying for the SHRM certification exam can seem like a daunting task. However, passing the exam is within reach with proper preparation and dedication. Here are some study tips to help you get started:

  • Get familiar with the exam content and format. Study the SHRM Body of Applied Skills and Knowledge™ (SHRM BASK™). The SHRM certification exam comprises hundreds of multiple-choice questions related to various topics in human resources, such as talent management, employee engagement, recruitment and retention strategies, etc.
  • Take advantage of SHRM’s study materials and practice tests. SHRM offers various online tools to help you prepare for the exam. Carefully consider your options for the SHRM Learning System, which include studying independently, taking part in SHRM-certified instructor-led courses, or preparing as a team. These resources can provide valuable insight into how to approach the exam content, helping you feel more confident and prepared on exam day.

Additional SHRM resources:

Practice, practice, practice! The key to passing the SHRM certification exam is consistently honing your knowledge and skills through regular study sessions. Set aside time to review key topics covered in the exam, and test yourself with sample questions or practice tests regularly leading up to the exam. Better yet, join a study group or a local SHRM chapter to find a mentor!

  1. Take the SHRM certification exam and pass with flying colors!

You’ve prepared, you’ve done your research, you’ve studied. And now it’s time to take the exam and—of course—ace this test!

The SHRM certification exam will take approximately 4 hours to complete. Since this is a multiple-choice test, your results will be communicated shortly after completion. To pass the exam, you need to get a score of 200 or higher.

Here are a few practical exam-taking tips:

  • Arrive early to the test center or remote session and maybe do some self-care like meditation to calm your nervous system.
  • Pace yourself during the exam so you don’t have to rush through the remaining questions in the last hour. 
  • Answer every question (better to make an educated guess if you have to!).
  • Check your work thoroughly.
  • Take breaks as needed to rest your mind during this long test. 

Once you’ve passed and earned your certification, add the coveted SHRM-CP or SHRM-SCP designation letters after your name in your emails, resumes, and professional online profiles. You will receive a digital badge as well as a complimentary digital certificate. You can also purchase a framed certificate. Lastly, your name will be listed in the SHRM Certification Directory so future employers can verify your credentials. Hooray!

Maintain your SHRM certification through continuing education credits

SHRM recertification is an important step in ensuring that human resources professionals stay up-to-date on the industry’s latest best practices and regulations. To maintain your SHRM certification, recertify your credential every three years.

Recertify by earning 60 Professional Development Credits (PDCs) within the three-year recertification cycle. You can acquire these continuing education credits through conferences, workshops, or other HR courses. Alternatively, you can retake the exam. Though if it were up to us, continuous learning would be the better option!

Why? Because HR education and training are constantly evolving. And as more HR practices trend toward work-life wellness, you don’t want to miss out on the opportunity to foster a thriving, happier workforce!

Interested in finding out how you can increase team wellbeing? Talk to aGympass wellbeing specialist today!

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Gympass Editorial Team

The Gympass Editorial Team empowers HR leaders to support worker wellbeing. Our original research, trend analyses, and helpful how-tos provide the tools they need to improve workforce wellness in today's fast-shifting professional landscape.