Two colleagues collaborate in an open format workspace.

Which HR Certification is the Best For Me?

Can't decide which HR certification is right for you? Discover the difference between the SHRM-CP and SHRM-SCP.


Embark on a transformative career journey in Human Resources with SHRM's distinguished certifications. Whether you're just starting out or looking to deepen your expertise, SHRM offers a certification that's right for you.

Choose between SHRM-CP, tailored for HR professionals in operational roles, and SHRM-SCP, designed for those in strategic senior-level positions.

SHRM-CP: Certified Professional

For individuals performing HR or HR-related duties or pursuing a career in Human Resources (basic working knowledge in HR is recommended).

Your current or most recent work in HR is operational in nature (i.e., implementing policies, serving as the HR point of contact for staff, or performing day-to-day HR functions).

Your duties tend to be specialized versus general. 

SHRM-SCP: Senior Certified Professional

For individuals with a work history of at least three years performing strategic level HR or HR-related duties; or for SHRM-CP credential 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.

Your current or most recent work in HR is strategic in nature (i.e., develop HR policies, execute all integrated HR operations, direct the entire HR enterprise, or lead the alignment of HR strategies to organizational goals).

Choosing a SHRM Certification

Employee smiles at the camera with his laptop.
Self-Assessment Tool

Unsure which certification aligns with your career goals? Our intuitive self-assessment tool is here to guide you.

By understanding your unique educational background and HR experience, it recommends the certification that suits your professional path. 

Based on your responses, the tool will recommend the best exam for you: the SHRM-CP or the SHRM-SCP (or, for those not eligible for SHRM certification, a SHRM Specialty Credential).

Eligibility vs. Experience

If you meet the eligibility criteria for the SHRM-SCP but the self-assessment tool suggests the SHRM-CP exam due to limited experience in strategic roles, you face a challenging decision.

Historically, many HR professionals with non-strategic backgrounds who attempted the SHRM-SCP exam were unsuccessful. That's why SHRM recommends individuals with this background start at the SHRM-CP level.

The SHRM-CP certification, with its operational focus, may align better with your career history. Additionally, taking the SHRM-CP exam first acquaints you with the exam structure, question format, and overall test experience, enhancing your study methods.

Opting for the SHRM-CP initially is particularly beneficial if you have test anxiety or have been away from academic settings for some time. It also boosts your confidence for future attempts at the SHRM-SCP exam.

Our Recommendation, Your Decision

Remember that the self-assessment tool only provides a recommendation. If you are eligible to take the SHRM-SCP exam, you can still decide to do so, whatever the nature of your work experience. In this case, we recommend that you spend a significant amount of time studying strategic HR as you prepare for the exam.

Another approach to selecting the right exam is to read the SHRM Body of Applied Skills and Knowledge® (SHRM BASK®) and assess which proficiency statements best represent the work you perform on a daily basis. If your daily work most resembles the proficiency statements listed for advanced professionals, then we suggest applying for the SHRM-SCP exam. If your daily work most resembles the proficiency statements listed for all professionals, then you are eligible to take the SHRM-CP exam.

International applicants also choose between the SHRM-CP or SHRM-SCP based on the credential most relevant to them. Please note that international exams may ask about universal employment law concepts rather than the employment laws of any particular country or region.

For additional information e-mail

Ready to find out which is the best SHRM certification exam for you? Use the certification self-assessment tool and then register for the exam.