Want to Grow Your Career in HR? Here Are 6 HR Certificates to Complete

Certifications, classes, and extra training can give your HR career the boost in credentials and salary that you are looking for.
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Updated on September 21, 2023
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Staying relevant in your industry is important for any professional. When it comes to human resources, earning a certification shows dedication to your career growth and development.

"When a company is hiring a HR person, they will be looking at candidates with those certifications a bit closer because they know that person is regularly learning and staying on top of things happening in their field," said Deanna Baumgardner, president of Employers Advantage LLC.

Earning HR certifications not only helps build your resume but also impacts your wallet. A 2018 Payscale report shows that many HR certifications can increase your earning power.

Here, we take a look at some of the most beneficial certifications to advance your career in human resources.

Types of HR Certifications

1. HRCI Certification

HR Certificate Institute (HRCI) is one of the premier HR credentialing organizations. You can earn strategic, knowledge, or professional certifications.

"When you see certification letters after someone's name, such as PHR (professional in human resources) and SPHR (senior professional in human resources), those are from HRCI," said Chuck Simikian, SPHR, SHRM-SCP, president and lead consultant at Alliance HR Partners Consulting.

HRCI offers courses for everyone from the beginner to the HR executive. You can also take all of the classes you need for certification. Costs vary depending on the topic. HR certification exams begin at $300.

2. SHRM Certification

Certification from the Society of Human Resources Management (SHRM) helps an HR professional lead more effectively. In addition to providing people management skills, certifications may also provide a financial boost.

According to SHRM's website, earning a certification increases earning power by up to 15%. The group focuses on competency-based certification, and its credentials are highly regarded among HR professionals.

SHRM offers two major certifications, with one geared toward senior professionals in the industry. Certification exam fees start at about $150 for eligible SHRM members.

3. World at Work Certifications

World at Work offers specialty HR certifications focused on compensation, benefits, and pay equity. This organization offers virtual instructor-led, in-person, and self-paced course options. In addition, webinars, conferences, and publications help HR professionals stay up to date on industry trends.

Some programs also provide the choice to take the exam without going through the course modules. Prices vary depending on the topic.

You can also take courses that will give you the needed credits to recertify with HRCI and SHRM through World at Work.

4. Golden Gate University HR Certificates

This undergraduate certificate is considered one of the top HR management online programs. Golden Gate University offers the program and gives people located in the San Francisco area a hybrid option.

The certificate focuses on teaching impactful ways to manage organizational structures and personnel. You must complete 15 course units to finish the human resources management certificate program. The program costs about $7,000.

The graduate certificate in human resource management focuses on ethics, metrics and data, employment law, and total compensation. This certificate costs about $9,800 for the nine required units.

Credits from a master's in HR management. According to Golden Gate University, recipients of its HR master’s degree tend to make almost 50% more than the average degree-holder.

5. Human Capital Institute Certifications

With a focus on strategic HR certification programs, the Human Capital Institute (HCI) offers two-day and three-day programs to boost your skills. Courses help you enhance your core capabilities in the industry, excel with strategic workforce planning, and improve talent development and engagement. Program prices start at $1,995.

One of its cornerstones is the Human Capital Academy Credential Program. When you complete the 18-month program, you'll receive the academy credentials. The program costs about $7,500 when you purchase all its components up front.

Keep in mind: Many of HCI's options can also transfer to recertification credits for HRCI and SHRM.

6. Academy to Innovate HR

Academy to Innovate HR (AIHR) prepares you to succeed in a constantly evolving industry. The organization offers a generalist HR certification program. It also provides programs focused on HR metrics and reporting, people analytics, talent acquisition, and strategic HR leadership.

AIHR has over 15,000 learners and 11 HR certifications. You can enroll in one program, have full access to an online course library, or sign up as a part of a team. Each option gives you 12 months of access to the program material. Prices start at $975 for one course.

Popular Online HR Certificates

Learn about start dates, transferring credits, availability of financial aid, and more by contacting the universities below.

Other Career-Boosting Options

While experts agree that certifications are very valuable, you can enhance your HR career in other ways, too. With a little digging, you can find low-cost and free training options to sharpen your skills.

Plus, readily available website resources, such as YouTube videos and information on LinkedIn, can provide growth opportunities. Coursera also offers multiple classes on HR topics.

But also remember to use your organizations. Getting involved with industry organizations opens doors through networking and growth opportunities.

"I would recommend getting involved in your local SHRM chapter and consider getting involved in the board of directors. It gives you a lot of exposure to other HR professionals. It helps broaden your professional network, and volunteerism is a great way to grow your skills and abilities," said Marcia Zaruba O'Connor, CEO and founder of The O'Connor Group.

Bottom Line

To be marketable and relevant in the workforce, you need to keep your skills up to date. Classes and certifications are key ways to enhance your skills, and they can also earn you more money in the long run.

Most importantly, when you show initiative to learn more about your industry as an HR professional, you're showing that your career — as well as your employer and the people that you serve — are all worth the investment.

BestColleges.com is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

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