Is HR Certification Really Worth It?

Is HR Certification Really Worth It?

Woman studying at a table

HR Certification is a great way to demonstrate your knowledge and experience in human resources, but does it necessarily equate to greater pay and career advancement opportunities? The data about how much an HR credential impacts salary and seniority have been absent, until now. A recent salary survey and report offers HR professionals more information about the benefits of credentials. According to the study, HR certification may not only make you more appealing to employers but may be an investment that pays off with better opportunities and earnings potential.

Climbing the HR ladder

The study evaluated 10 different certifications held by more than 102,000 respondents with HR job titles and revealed that 34.2% of the respondents had at least one credential. The largest represented certifications were PHR, SPHR, SHRM-CP and SHRM-SCP. The higher the level the HR professional, the greater the percentage of those were credential holders: 35.5% of HR Managers and 51.1% of Vice Presidents of HR are credentialed.

And if you’re already HR certified?

Does it make sense to pursue multiple certifications? Multiple certifications among HR professionals are not as uncommon as you might at first suspect. The study found that 50% of SHRM-CP professionals also have a PHR certification, whereas 62.5% of SHRM-SCP also hold a SPHR certification. According to PIHRA member and certification prep course instructor Richard Dawson, MBA, SHRM-SCP, SPHR, PHRca, HRPM — his HR certification has both afforded career opportunities and increased salary levels throughout his career.

Check out our conversation with Richard here.

Increasing your earning potential

In terms of seeing a boost in pay, there are several contributing factors including type of credential, industry, work location and job level. Compared to their peers without certification, professionals with SHRM-SCP might see a 5.7% pay boost and those with SPHR credential saw 9.6% pay boost. Over the last 10 years, earning certification has become increasingly valuable to HR professionals in both pay and career advancement. With one exception, all certification types demonstrated evidence of a boost in pay for those professionals who were credentialed.

For more a detailed breakdown of survey findings, view PayScale’s survey here.

Prepare for your HR certification exam with successful strategies

PIHRA offers preparation courses through both Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) and the Human Resource Certification Institute (HRCI) in conjunction with annual events like our PIHRA Legal Update and the California HR Conference. Not only is attending these programs a great way to update your knowledge, adding certification will help you improve your marketability. This might be just the right time to get additional staff up-to-speed in your HR knowledge and ready to earn your certification, too.

Are you staying socially isolated and ready to invest more time in your professional development? Our virtual courses to prepare for the PHRca, PHR/SPHR, aPHR, or SHRM-CP/SCP could be just for you! We’re also offering Specialty Credentials for California Law & and Inclusive Workplaces.

Learn more about our upcoming courses & register at


Scholarship opportunity deadline

The PIHRA Foundation is committed to supporting workforce readiness including human resource scholarships. Since its inception, the PIHRA Foundation has provided more than $100,000 worth of assistance to educate HR professionals who are in transition and emerging HR professionals who might not have the capital to invest on their own. In its efforts to serve the greater HR community, the PIHRA Foundation has launched the 2020 spring scholarship program for HR certification. You do not need to be a PIHRA member to apply. We encourage you to please share this opportunity with emerging HR professionals or anyone currently in transition.

The PIHRA Foundation provides scholarship opportunities every fall and spring. The application process for Spring 2020 has CLOSED. Learn more about the PIHRA Foundation at

NEW – Applications & Remote Proctoring for SHRM Certification

Adaptability is the name of the game, especially during a time where we’re all practicing social distancing. SHRM has announced a new proctoring option for their examinations in 2020, in light of recent developments surrounding COVID-19. For the first time ever, HR professionals can now take their SHRM-CP or SHRM-SCP exam remotely via SHRM’s new Remote-Proctored Exam Option. 

If you’re considering applying for the SHRM Certification exam, the new dates for SHRM’s Spring 2020 Testing Window have been amended to June 1 – August 15, 2020 in light of COVID-19. Current applicants can schedule or reschedule their exam, using Prometric’s online scheduling tool here

Sign up for an upcoming HR Certification Prep Course with PIHRA!

HR certification courses starting soon:

SHRM California Law HR Specialty Credential  
(Coming Soon) (Coming Soon)      

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