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The 10 Best HR Certification Courses and Programs

The 10 Best HR Certification Courses and Programs

Key points

  • Holding well-regarded certifications can help HR professionals distinguish themselves in the workplace, receiving more promotions and more salary increases.
  • Many HR certifications can be completed online and in a go-at-your-own-pace manner, meaning they can fit into your already busy life.
  • Top HR certification courses and programs cover topics like talent management, organizational development, compensation best practices, and more.
  •  Leading HR organizations like ATD, CIPD, IHRIM, SHRM, and others offer robust certification offerings to enhance your workplace knowledge and qualifications.
  • You will have the option to focus on general topics or specific ones as you pursue your HR certifications in any of these curated programs.

Completing coursework for an HR certification is an excellent way for both current and hopefully HR professionals to set themselves apart in the field. When you hold one of these certificates, current and future employers will be able to clearly see your competence, dedication, experience, and credibility in the world of HR. 

Certifications can not only distinguish you as a capable, committed individual but also help you get promoted through the HR ranks. According to recent statistics, around 36% of HR generalists hold a certification, around 58% of HR directors are certified, meaning that you’re more likely to advance if you hold a certification too. This goes hand in hand with higher pay – obtaining an HR certification can significantly impact your salary. In 2018, professionals who obtained certification saw pay increases close to 30%. 

Plus, you don’t have to be working in the human resources department, or managing an HR information system, to benefit from an HR certification or course. In fact, these programs can be highly informational and helpful for anyone in a management position. 

In this article, we’ve put together a list of the best HR certification courses and programs out there. Any of these options is sure to help you provide more value to your company or organization and progress efficiently in your career path.

Top 10 HR Certifications

It’s clear that you can reap some significant benefits when you decide to pursue an HR certification. Holding one can help you stand out in this competitive field, and it might even set you up for a pay raise or a promotion. So which certification should you choose? In the list below, we’ve laid out the pros and cons of each of our 10 top picks.  

 

Best for upskilling

Chartered Institute of Personal Development (CIPD)

Overview

The Chartered Institute of Personnel Development, or CIPD has been around for a while – over 100 years, to be exact. They’re focused on setting professional standards for those who work in HR and people development, and they want to drive positive change in the workplace. Membership-based access to CIPD will get you certification programs as well as a community of other individuals who work in the HR space. 

 

Key features

The courses they offer are focused on practical, operational information as well as high-level strategic insight. There are plenty of options when it comes to choosing the certificate you want, and they are offered at the Foundation, Associate, and Advanced levels. Each course is self-paced and involves a downloadable course workbook, so they can meet your personal scheduling needs and seamlessly fit into your life. 

 

Pricing

Because of the flexible nature of CIPD courses, they are a very popular option for HR professionals looking to boost their career trajectories. Pricing begins around $100 and goes up from there. 

 

Best HR technology certification

International Association for Human Resources Information Management

Overview

The International Association for Human Resources Information Management, or IHRIM, has been around since the 1980s and has served as a trusted community resource for training and certification since that time. The organization offers an HRIP certification, which stands for Human Resource Information Professional. The exam is meant to assess the competencies and knowledge of professionals working in the field of HR technology. 

Key features

Holding the HRIP certification is an excellent way to show your credibility, expertise, and knowledge while demonstrating your commitment to quality HR work. While it’s open to anyone, the exam is recommended for people who have 3-5 years of professional experience in the world of HR technology or a post-secondary degree in a related field. 

Pricing

Depending on your membership status with IHRIM, the certification will cost you between $445 and $1,100. Some of these packages include preparation materials for the test, which is a two-hour multiple-choice exam that you can take either virtually or in person.

Best benchmark certification

HRCI Certification

Overview

The HR Certification Institute, or HRCI, is one of the top organizations when it comes to offering credentials to human resource professionals. Their courses and exams are generally considered to set the standard for rigor and excellence in the field. HRCI prides itself on finding people with true HR expertise, no matter what level they are in the field. 

Key features

With over 40 years of experience offering robust sets of credentials, HRCI has established itself as one of the most respected organizations from which you can get a professional HR certification. The best part is that they offer a wide range of certifications and courses, meaning that it’s a great option for those just starting out as well as those who want to elevate their existing skills or hone in on a specific area of HR. 

Pricing

Pricing begins at $149 per course and goes up from there. For most of the certificates HRCI offers, you will have to sit for an exam, but there’s typically on option to do so either online or in person. Since HRCI offers a suite of beginner courses, eligibility requirements are typically not an issue. 

Best early-career certification

SHRM Certification

Overview

The SHRM certification is also known as the SHRM-CP, and it stands for Society for Human Resource Management Certified Professional. This certification is optimized to boost each individual’s effectiveness in the workplace and give them a chance to move their careers in the right direction while networking with leaders in the business world. 

Key features

SHRM is focused on helping students grasp the underlying concept of the HR world: Effective people management is a necessity to ensure a company and its employees are on the same page and are working toward similar goals. Those who pursue an SHRM certification will learn to apply coursework knowledge to their workplace to enhance their teams and better support their companies’ goals. 

Pricing

In order to be eligible to sit for the SHRM-CP exam, you’ll need to already be working in HR or performing HR-related duties. You could also be a student pursuing a career in the field. The SHRM-CP certification is best for those who have specialized duties rather than general ones. The four-hour exam costs $500 to take. 

SHRM also offers an additional certification, the SHRM-SCP, or Senior Certified Professional. This one is geared toward those who work on HR-related tasks at the senior level. Applicants must have worked in HR for three or more years and demonstrate that they have spent at least 1,000 hours per year doing HR-related work.

Best for organizational development

AIHR Organizational Development

Overview

The Academy to Innovate HR, also known by the acronym AIHR, has a robust online library that consists of HR certification programs and courses. The organization offers a specialized program through which you can choose eleven certifications to complete during an extended period of time, but you can also choose to hone your skills in one speciality area. For example, you might get a certification in Strategic HR Leadership, HR Metrics and Dashboarding, or Digital HR. 

Key features

The Organizational Development certification offered by AIHR stands out as an excellent addition to the portfolio of anyone working in HR. The course is an online, self-paced series of modules involving five courses plus a capstone project. In the course, you’ll learn all about building a stronger, better, more aligned workforce so that you can provide value to your company by increasing organizational effectiveness. 

Pricing

For a single certification such as the Organizational Development one, this course will cost you $975. However, you can get even more value and the opportunity to pursue additional certifications by signing up for the full-access program for $1,650. In a 12-month period, you’ll be able to access 11 different certificate programs to maximize your HR certification level. 

Best for leaders

Strategic HR Leadership (SHRL) by the Human Capital Institute

Overview

The Human Capital Institute is based in Cincinnati, Ohio, but it offers certification programs and conferences throughout the globe. The SHRL certification program is a two-day course that’s focused on helping HR leaders hone skills related to engaging and developing employees — these skills being more important than ever due to the challenges of remote leadership. The course centers around teaching participants to be better leaders of people. 

Key features

By the time you finish the class, you’ll have plenty of practicing linking your team’s work to company strategy, analyzing the roles and responsibilities of team members, and creating ongoing learning plans for your team. You’ll get the chance to practice giving feedback and coaching in order to be a better leader. Plus, you’ll leave the course equipped with practicable tools and templates and actionable steps to continue developing your leadership skills. 

Pricing

The session will cost you $1,995, and you’ll earn the certification by attending all of the sessions, completing all of the coursework, and passing the final multiple-choice exam with a score that’s over 80%.

Best for talent management

Talent Management Practitioner by the Talent Management Institute

Overview

If you’re particularly interested in the talent management subfield of HR, you may want to look into the credentials offered by the Talent Management Institute. This organization is well-known as the world’s largest certification institute in the talent management industry, and the opportunity to specialize in that field is certainly an enticing one. 

Key features

Through the Talent Management Institute, you can access one of three different credentials: TMP (Talent Management Practitioner), GTML (Global Talent Management Leader), and STMP (Senior Talent Management Practitioner). All are globally recognized talent management certifications that are sure to bolster your resume and make you a more attractive hire for HR recruiters worldwide. Plus, you’ll come away with valuable skills and strategies from the institute’s toolbox. 

Pricing

A TMP certification will cost you $625, which includes preparation materials as well as the exam. The program is designed for those who have graduated from college with an HR major or a focus in a similar discipline, such as a business degree. Holding this certification is an excellent way to streamline your career path and land a high-paying talent management role. 

Best for mid-career professionals

Certified Professional in Talent Development (CPTD) Certification by the Association for Talent Development (ATD)

Overview

This certification, which is also known by the acronym CPTD, is offered by the Association for Talent and Development. It’s geared toward business professionals who have been in the industry for a bit longer – at least five years, to be exact. The certification pulls from a broad range of information and is meant to assess a professional’s level of knowledge and application of skills across the breadth of their talent development capabilities. 

Key features

Many successful CPTD holders have reported that the process of engaging with the preparatory materials and studying for their CPTD designations allowed them to have immense opportunities for growth in the workplace. Later on, they reported that they benefited strongly from the certification and that it allowed them to give back to the profession while positively impacting their own careers. 

Pricing

Depending on your level of membership with ADT, you will pay either $975 or $1,350 for the exam, which is a three-hour testing experience that you can take online through live virtual proctoring. Eligibility requirements involve five years of relevant work experience plus 60 hours of professional development. 

Best for compensation professionals

Certified Compensation Professional from World at Work

Overview

Becoming a Certified Compensation Professional, or CCP, is a great way to open up increased career opportunities for yourself. It is targeted toward mid-level HR professionals who have a special interest in learning more about compensation issues and best practices. 

Key features

You will gain insight into a number of different topics including regulatory environments for compensation programs, business acumen for compensation professionals, quantitative principles in compensation management, and more. The certification is backed up by World at Work’s more than 65 years of experience in workplace rewards research and education. 

Pricing

You can choose from online or in-person options to find the system that works best for you, but either way, the certification involves 10 courses and exams, which you can technically take in any order (although there is a suggested one). Each course costs $1,350 for members and $1,929 for non-members – meaning that it will total $13,500 for members and $19,290 for members. In other words, it’s worth asking if your organization will cover some of the cost since you’ll be bringing added value to the table with your new knowledge.

Best for coaching

Associate Certified Coach (ACC) Credential from the International Coaching Federation (ICF)

Overview

Part of being an HR practitioner involves coaching and mentoring junior team members as well as managers and leadership. This is especially true as you advance through your career and become a more senior member of your HR team or HRO.  The ACC credential offered by the International Coaching Federation is sure to help you hone your coaching skills, and it will signal to your company that you are committed to upholding strong principles and ethical behavior in your coaching sessions. 

Key features

In order to gain your certification, you will need at least 60 hours of coaching education and at least 100 hours of coaching experience. Then, you’ll have to successfully complete a performance evaluation as well as the ICF Credentialing Exam. 

Pricing

There are a few different pathways that the ICF offers in order to help individuals meet the requirements for this course. Depending on the pathway that you choose, you’ll pay anywhere from $175 to $625 to gain your ACC credential. 

HR certification courses and programs — choose wisely

If you’re looking to improve your career as an HR professional and commit to ongoing professional learning and development, you’re in the right place. With this list of certification courses for HR, you will be able to hone your skills and gain accreditations in both general and specific topics. 

The best part is that many of these certificate programs can be completed online – that’s right, even the exams – so you won’t have to rearrange your already busy schedule to make time for a weekly class. Generally speaking, you’ll be able to move at your own pace and pursue your certification on your own terms. 

While HR certifications are ideal for internal HR teams, they are also especially useful for professional HR firms, including Professional Employer Organizations, Employers of Record, and Staffing Companies

Getting one of these reputable certifications is an excellent way for HR professionals to show that they’re committed to their careers, hungry for promotions and increased responsibilities, and ready for a commensurate pay bump. There are many personal and professional benefits to holding additional certifications, and these 10 options are great places to start.

FAQ

HR certificates show that you have studied and proven competence in a specific set of skills in the field. They show potential employers your specialization and are often used by HR professionals to advance their careers. 

The best HR certification for you depends on your past experience and career goals. Choose a certification that builds on your strengths, and will lead to the position you desire for the future. 

Quinn is RemotePad’s authority on remote work and HR tools. A Baltimore native, Quinn has a Bachelor of Arts from the College of William & Mary and a professional background in copy editing and education.

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