How to Get Your HR Certification: A Step-by-Step Guide

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Are you considering a career in Human Resources (HR)? Obtaining an HR certification can be a significant step towards advancing your career in this field. HR certifications not only validate your knowledge and skills but also enhance your credibility as a professional. In this comprehensive guide, we will walk you through the process of obtaining your HR certification, providing valuable insights and tips along the way.

Understanding HR Certification

Different Types of HR Certifications

Before embarking on your HR certification journey, it’s essential to understand the different types of certifications available. Some of the renowned HR certifications include:

  1. Professional in Human Resources (PHR)
  2. Senior Professional in Human Resources (SPHR)
  3. Global Professional in Human Resources (GPHR)
  4. Society for Human Resource Management Certified Professional (SHRM-CP)
  5. Society for Human Resource Management Senior Certified Professional (SHRM-SCP)

Each certification carries its own eligibility criteria, focus areas, and level of expertise. Researching and choosing the right certification program aligned with your career goals is crucial.

Eligibility Criteria for HR Certification

To pursue an HR certification, you need to fulfill certain eligibility criteria. While the requirements may vary depending on the certification, they often include a combination of education, work experience, and HR-specific knowledge. Most certifications require a minimum of a high school diploma, but some may necessitate a bachelor’s degree or higher.

Steps to Obtain HR Certification

Now that you understand the basics of HR certification, let’s dive into the step-by-step process of obtaining your certification.

1. Research and Choose the Right Certification Program

Start by researching the various HR certifications available and their corresponding programs. Consider factors such as the certification’s reputation, recognition in the industry, and alignment with your career aspirations. Look for programs that offer comprehensive study materials, exam preparation resources, and ongoing professional development opportunities.

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2. Meet the Educational Requirements

Once you have chosen the certification program, ensure that you meet the educational requirements for the certification you intend to pursue. Some certifications may require a specific level of education, such as a bachelor’s or master’s degree. If you don’t meet the educational requirements, explore alternative certification options or consider furthering your education to fulfill the criteria.

3. Gain Relevant Work Experience

Most HR certifications require a certain amount of work experience in the HR field. The experience requirement varies depending on the certification level and can range from one to five years. Gain hands-on experience in HR roles to meet the eligibility criteria and develop a deep understanding of HR practices and processes.

4. Prepare for the Certification Exam

Preparing for the certification exam is crucial to increase your chances of success. Create a study plan and allocate dedicated time for exam preparation. Utilize study materials provided by the certification program, such as textbooks, online resources, and practice exams. Consider joining study groups or forums to engage with fellow aspirants and gain additional insights.

5. Register and Schedule the Exam

Once you feel adequately prepared, register for the certification exam. Follow the instructions provided by the certification program and pay the necessary fees. After registration, schedule your exam at a convenient date and location. Ensure you have enough time to revise and review your study materials before the exam.

6. Take and Pass the Certification Exam

On the day of the exam, arrive early to the test center, bringing any required identification documents. Remain calm and confident throughout the exam. Read each question carefully and utilize your knowledge and preparation to provide accurate responses. After completing the exam, patiently await the results. If you pass, congratulations! You are now a certified HR professional. If you don’t pass, don’t be discouraged. Learn from the experience and identify areas for improvement before attempting the exam again.

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Resources to Help You Prepare

Preparing for an HR certification exam requires dedication and access to relevant resources. Here are some valuable resources to aid your preparation:

Recommended Study Materials

  • Textbooks and study guides provided by the certification program
  • Online resources and articles covering HR topics and exam-specific content
  • HR journals and publications for in-depth knowledge and industry insights

Online Courses and Training Programs

  • Virtual courses and training programs offered by reputable institutions and professional organizations
  • Webinars and workshops conducted by experienced HR professionals
  • E-learning platforms with HR certification-specific modules and practice exercises

Practice Exams and Mock Tests

  • Official practice exams provided by the certification program
  • Online platforms offering simulated exams to help you gauge your readiness
  • Study groups or forums where you can find sample questions and exchange knowledge with fellow aspirants

HR Certification Study Groups and Forums

  • Join online communities or forums dedicated to HR certification discussions
  • Participate in study groups to engage with individuals preparing for the same certification
  • Seek guidance and advice from experienced HR professionals who have already obtained their certifications

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Q: What is the cost of HR certification?

The cost of HR certification varies depending on the program and level of certification. Generally, it includes application fees, exam fees, and study materials. Budget accordingly and explore any financial aid or reimbursement options available.

Q: How long does it take to get HR certified?

The duration to obtain an HR certification depends on various factors, including the certification program, eligibility requirements, and your level of preparation. On average, it can take several months to a year or more to complete the necessary steps.

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Q: Can I get HR certified without a degree?

While some HR certifications do not require a degree, many certifications do have educational requirements. However, relevant work experience can sometimes compensate for the lack of formal education.

Q: Is recertification required for HR certifications?

Yes, most HR certifications require recertification to ensure professionals stay updated with the evolving industry practices. Recertification typically involves earning continuing education credits or retaking the exam after a specified period.

Q: How can I maintain my HR certification?

Maintaining your HR certification typically involves earning continuing education credits through professional development activities, attending conferences, or taking additional HR-related courses. Check the specific requirements of your certification program for detailed guidelines.


Obtaining an HR certification can be a significant milestone in your HR career. By following the step-by-step process outlined in this guide, you can pave the way towards achieving your certification goals. Remember, HR certifications not only validate your knowledge and skills but also open doors to new opportunities and career advancement. Start your journey today and unlock the full potential of your HR career!

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