SHRM Certification Cost: Is It Worth It?

Jan 14, 2024 | HR Trends

Josh Rust

As Abenity's Marketing Manager, Josh has a keen insight into the latest HR and recruiting trends.

SHRM certification. What can it really do for you? 

An SHRM certification makes you look good at work and helps you move up in your career. 

However, the exam fees will cost money.

So, is the cost really worth it? 

SHRM certification cost can range from $310-510 plus other fees, depending on your situation. (See the chart below for more details.) 

Stick around, and we’ll help you figure out exactly how much it would cost for you. We’ll talk about the fees, compare them with other certifications, and suggest ways to get support if you need it.

But first, what is an SHRM Certification?

What Is SHRM Certification?

SHRM stands for the Society for Human Resource Management. It’s a 501(c) nonprofit professional membership organization. They’re a group of HR experts who have been around for a while and have become the go-to source for HR knowledge.

They started in 1948 and now have nearly 325,000 members in 165 countries. SHRM impacts the lives of more than 235 million workers and families globally.

Two Main Types of Certifications: SHRM-CP and SHRM-SCP

There are two main types: SHRM-CP and SHRM-SCP.

SHRM-CP (Certified Professional): 

This one is for people starting out in HR. It shows you have the basics and are ready to handle the HR world.

According to SHRM, the SHRM Certified Professional (SHRM-CP) credential is either for individuals who perform general HR and HR-related duties at work, or for those pursuing a career in Human Resource Management.

The SHRM-CP exam contains two types of multiple-choice questions: stand-alone knowledge-based items that assess your knowledge and understanding of factual information, and scenario-based situational judgment items that assess your judgment and decision-making skills.

Approximately half of the items on each exam measure behavioral competency, and the other half measure HR knowledge.

There are also 24 field-test items that are used to gather data on a question’s effectiveness and don’t count as part of a candidate’s score. Field test items are randomly mixed with scored exam items.

Here’s the exam format and length:

  • Four hours in length (including 3 hours and 40 minutes of testing time).
  • 134 questions (80 knowledge items and 54 situational-judgment items, of which 24 are field-test items).
  • Computer-based testing experience.

SHRM-SCP (Senior Certified Professional): 

This is for the pros. If you’ve been around the HR world for a while and know your stuff, this certification will further solidify your career.

According to SHRM, an SHRM-SCP is for individuals with a work history of at least three years performing strategic level HR or HR-related duties; or for SHRM-CP holders who have held the credential for at least three years and are working in, or are in the process of transitioning to, a strategic-level role.

The same as SHRM-CP, the exam contains two types of multiple-choice questions: stand-alone knowledge-based items that assess your knowledge and understanding of factual information, and scenario-based situational judgment items that assess your judgment and decision-making skills.

Similarly to SHRM-CP, approximately half of the items on each exam are measuring behavioral competence, and the other half are measuringHR knowledge.

Another point of similarity: There are also 24 field-test items that are used to gather data on a question’s effectiveness and don’t count as part of a candidate’s score. Field test items are randomly mixed with scored exam items.

The exam format and length are just the same as the SHRM-CP.

However, the main difference between the two is this:

SHRM-CP is more on foundational HR elements, such as policy implementation, technology and data collection, disciplinary action, and compliance—while SHRM-SCP focuses on strategic elements of HR like engagement and retention.

But the question remains: is it worth it?

Is SHRM Certification Worth It? 

In simple terms, yes. And let’s dive into why.

SHRM certification can make a big difference in your HR career. It signals to employers that you’re serious about your role in human resources, whether you’re starting out or aiming for higher positions.

People trust actions more than words, and top reputable companies are looking for more than just great—they want the best of the best.

An SHRM certification is one of the best proofs that you can present to give credibility to your claims.

It shows that you really know what you’re doing, you’re updated on the latest trends and strategies, and you are diligent at becoming a better HR expert.

But with all that value, what are the costs?

Exam Fees: SHRM-CP and SHRM-SCP

Here’s the SHRM certification exam fees from their website:

SHRM certification exam fees

Additional Costs

Besides the exam fees, there are additional costs that you have to keep in mind. 

Here are some of them:

  • Preparation Materials and Courses: Getting ready for the exams might involve additional costs for study materials or courses. Because if you’re going to spend on the exam fees, you need to prepare to do well.
  • Membership Fees: To be part of the SHRM community, there are membership fees. But some offers don’t require you to be a member to take the certification. The catch is that it’s more expensive if you’re not a member.
  • Technology Requirements: Depending on your current technology setup, you might need to invest in specific tools or software to meet the technological requirements of the SHRM certification exams. This could include a reliable computer, internet connectivity, or specific software applications.
  • Professional Development Workshops or Conferences: Attending workshops, seminars, or conferences related to human resources can provide valuable insights and enhance your preparation for SHRM certification. However, participation in such events may involve registration fees, travel costs, and accommodation expenses, adding to the overall investment in your professional development.
  • Travel Expenses for Testing Centers: If your testing center is far away, consider travel expenses. It’s good to plan for any extra costs to get to your exam location.
  • Retest Fees: If you need to retake the exam, there could be additional fees. It’s something to be aware of.

While there are costs involved, the long-term benefits and opportunities that SHRM certification brings to the HR field make it a worthwhile investment in your professional career.

SHRM Certification Cost Vs. Other Certifications

In HR certifications, SHRM isn’t the only certification that you can get. 

Others, like HRCI’s PHR/SPHR, compete for attention. Let’s see how an SHRM certification stacks up.

SHRM Certification vs. HRCI’s PHR


  • SHRM Certification: Generally considered cost-effective with a pricing structure that aligns with its perceived value.
  • PHR Certification: The cost may vary, and it’s essential to evaluate the return on investment in terms of career advancement.

Inclusive Approach

  • SHRM Certification: Known for an inclusive approach with certifications for both entry-level (SHRM-CP) and senior professionals (SHRM-SCP).
  • PHR Certification: Offers a solid foundation but may be perceived as more tailored to mid-level professionals.

Flexibility in Learning

  • SHRM Certification: Often provides flexible learning options to accommodate diverse schedules and learning preferences.
  • PHR Certification: Flexibility depends on individual study preferences; traditional classroom courses are available.

Content Coverage

  • SHRM Certification: Comprehensive coverage of various HR topics, fostering a holistic understanding of human resources.
  • PHR Certification: Focuses on core HR areas, offering a depth of knowledge in key functions.

Global Recognition

  • SHRM Certification: Recognized globally, making it valuable for professionals seeking international opportunities.
  • PHR Certification: Well-recognized, particularly in the United States, and may have varying recognition levels in different regions.

SHRM Certification vs. HRCI’s SPHR


  • SHRM Certification: Generally considered cost-effective, offering a competitive pricing structure.
  • SPHR Certification: May have a higher cost due to its focus on senior-level HR professionals.

Inclusive Approach

  • SHRM Certification: Inclusive, catering to both entry-level and senior professionals.
  • SPHR Certification: Geared specifically towards senior-level HR practitioners.

Flexibility in Learning

  • SHRM Certification: Known for providing flexible learning options to accommodate various schedules.
  • SPHR Certification: Flexibility depends on individual study preferences; traditional classroom courses are available.

Content Coverage

  • SHRM Certification: Comprehensive coverage across a broad spectrum of HR topics.
  • SPHR Certification: Focuses on strategic and policy-making aspects, offering advanced knowledge for senior roles.

Global Recognition

  • SHRM Certification: Globally recognized, and suitable for professionals seeking international career opportunities.
  • SPHR Certification: Recognized, particularly in the United States, and may have varying recognition levels in different regions.

Choosing between SHRM certification and others involves considering factors like cost, inclusivity, flexibility, content coverage, and global recognition. 

Each certification serves different career stages, so it’s essential to align your choice with your professional goals and experience level.

Financial Assistance and Support Options 

If the cost of SHRM certification seems daunting, don’t worry. There are various financial assistance and support options available to make the certification more manageable.

Here are some of them:


Keep an eye out for SHRM or external scholarships that might ease the financial burden. These opportunities could be based on merit, need, or specific criteria.


Similar to scholarships, grants may be available to support your certification journey. Explore different sources to discover potential grants aligned with your situation.

Employer Reimbursement

Many employers recognize the value of a certified HR professional. Inquire with your employer about reimbursement options or employer-sponsored programs that can cover part or all of the certification costs.

Payment Plans

Check if SHRM or third-party providers offer flexible payment plans. This can help you spread the cost over time, making it more manageable for your budget.

Financial Aid

Explore any financial aid programs that SHRM or external organizations may provide. Understanding the eligibility criteria and application process can assist in securing financial assistance.

Tips on Budgeting and Saving for SHRM

If you really want to get the certificate, here are some tips for budgeting and saving for your certification:

  • Plan Ahead: Create a budget plan outlining your income, expenses, and potential certification costs. Planning ahead allows you to allocate funds wisely.
  • Cut Unnecessary Expenses: Identify areas where you can cut unnecessary expenses temporarily to redirect funds toward certification. Sacrifices now can lead to long-term gains.
  • Set Realistic Savings Goals: Establish realistic savings goals each month to steadily accumulate the funds needed for certification. Small, consistent contributions can add up over time.
  • Explore Low-Cost Study Resources: Look for affordable or free study resources to minimize additional costs. Utilizing cost-effective study materials can contribute to overall budget savings.

Remember, financial constraints should not stop you from pursuing SHRM certification. By exploring available assistance options, setting a strategic budget, and planning wisely, you can make your certification goals a reality.

Long-Term Costs and Maintenance of Certification 

As you get your SHRM certification, it’s crucial to understand the long-term costs and commitments involved in maintaining your certification.

Often, here are the long-term costs you have to think about:

Recertification Process

SHRM certifications are not a one-time achievement. They require periodic recertification to ensure that HR professionals stay current with evolving industry standards.

Recertification Period

SHRM-CP and SHRM-SCP certifications are valid for three years. Within this period, you need to accumulate professional development credits to qualify for recertification.

Associated Costs

While the recertification process itself incurs a fee, it’s essential to consider additional costs associated with earning recertification credits. These may include expenses for conferences, workshops, or online courses.

Credit Requirements

To maintain your SHRM certification, you must earn a specific number of professional development credits during the three-year recertification period.

Potential Expenses

Obtaining these credits may involve costs such as registration fees for conferences, course fees for educational programs, or expenses related to attending HR-related events.

Career Advancement

Maintaining SHRM certification is an investment in your career longevity. It enhances your professional credibility and increases your value in the job market.

ROI Over Time

While there are costs associated with recertification, consider it as part of your long-term professional development investment. The returns in terms of career opportunities, salary growth, and job security often outweigh the associated expenses.

Networking and Learning

The ongoing commitment to recertification provides opportunities for networking and continuous learning. Engaging in these activities can contribute to your overall professional growth and effectiveness in the HR field.

Understanding the long-term costs and commitments involved in maintaining SHRM certification allows you to plan strategically for ongoing professional development

Consider the SHRM certification as an investment in the success and relevance of your HR career.

Another Way to Level Up Your HR Game: Better Perks for Your Employees 

Obtaining SHRM certification opens up new opportunities in your HR career. 

Whether you’re just starting or a seasoned professional, the advantages, such as career progression and professional recognition, make it a wise choice.

However, that’s not the only way to level up your HR game. There are other game-changer things like employee perks and benefits.  

These are special benefits for your team that can have a significant impact. They go beyond attracting talent to create a workplace where everyone feels content and valued.

To develop a great HR strategy and insights about perks, take a look at our Perks Report

This report is a side-by-side comparison of the top providers of employee benefits, showcasing potential options for your organization. 

It’s a valuable resource to help you make your workplace a positive and fulfilling environment.

Incorporating meaningful perks into your HR strategy ensures your team’s contentment and sets your workplace apart. 

Don’t miss the opportunity to improve your HR strategies—grab the Perks Report now and explore the possibilities for your team. 

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