Certification Q&A: Eligibility for and Selecting an Exam

Answers to frequently asked questions about SHRM certification and recertification

By the SHRM Certification Team January 20, 2022

Have questions about the SHRM-CP or SHRM-SCP credentials? In every issue, the SHRM Certification team will answer some of your most frequently asked questions. Have additional questions? Send them to SHRMCertNews@shrm.org.


Q: I'm about to start pursuing SHRM certification. What's the best way to proceed?

A: Congratulations on seeking to elevate your HR career! Take these steps to make sure you're on a path toward success:

  • First, determine which certification exam—SHRM-CP or SHRM-SCP—is right for you, based on the type of work you do.
  • Second, check your eligibility for the exam you've selected by reviewing the requirements for each SHRM certification level.
  • Third, apply for your chosen exam.


Q: How do I determine which exam is right for me?

A: There are two levels of SHRM certification, each with a corresponding exam. The SHRM-CP credential is designed for HR professionals who are engaged primarily in operational roles; the SHRM-SCP credential is designed for senior HR professionals who are engaged primarily in a strategic role.
Use this tool for help in choosing the correct exam for you: Click on "Find Out Now" in the yellow box "Which Credential Is Right for You?" You'll be asked a series of questions about your career level, educational background and number of years you have worked in an HR role, as well as descriptive statements about your current job. Based on your answers, the tool will make a recommendation as to which exam you should take.


Q: How do I find out if I am eligible for the exam I've chosen?

A: One way is to review the eligibility requirements for each exam. It is worth noting that membership in SHRM is not required for SHRM certification. You also need not be currently employed to be eligible for either level of exam.
Another way to self-assess your readiness for certification is to review the proficiency standards listed in the SHRM Body of Applied Skills and Knowledge (SHRM BASK). The differences between what proficiencies are expected of all versus advanced HR professionals may help you decide whether you're closer to the SHRM-CP level or the SHRM-SCP level.
Finally, you can try several practice questions from the tests, which can help you determine your suitability for each exam.


Q: I've confirmed my eligibility for the exam I've chosen. How do I apply for it so I can start preparing?

A: Apply for your exam online. Be sure to specify in the drop-down menu whether you are a student or in the military, and whether you are a SHRM member, to take advantage of lower fees.


Want to learn more about how to obtain or maintain your SHRM certification? Visit shrmcertification.org.



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