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Learn about SHRM-CP: Requirements, Costs, and Salaries

29 May, 2024

The field of Human Resources (HR) is dynamic and ever-evolving. Staying ahead of the curve is essential for HR professionals who want to stand out and make a meaningful impact. One way to do this is by obtaining the SHRM-CP (SHRM Certified Professional) certification. 

This globally recognized credential demonstrates your expertise in HR fundamentals and can open doors to new opportunities. 

Let's dive into everything you need to know about the SHRM-CP with SkillTrans!

What is SHRM-CP?

What is SHRM-CP?

The SHRM-CP, or SHRM Certified Professional, is a globally recognized credential offered by the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), the world's largest HR professional society.

Think of it as the gold standard for HR professionals who primarily operate at an operational level. These are the individuals who implement HR policies, handle day-to-day HR tasks, and serve as the go-to resource for employees and managers on a wide range of HR-related matters.

Who Holds the SHRM-CP?

The SHRM-CP certification isn't just for those with "HR" in their job title. It's for anyone who plays a key role in the people management side of their organization. 

Here are a few examples:

  • HR Generalists: These professionals are involved in various aspects of HR, from recruiting and onboarding to employee relations and benefits administration.

  • HR Specialists: These individuals focus on a specific area of HR, such as talent acquisition, compensation and benefits, or employee engagement.

  • HR Managers: These leaders oversee HR teams and ensure the smooth operation of HR functions within their department or organization.

  • Business Partners: These professionals work closely with other departments to align HR strategies with business goals.

  • Payroll Professionals: These individuals ensure accurate and timely processing of employee compensation and benefits.

In essence, if you're involved in the day-to-day operations of HR or aspire to be, the SHRM-CP is designed for you.

Why is the SHRM-CP Valuable?

The SHRM-CP isn't just another line on your resume; it's a testament to your expertise and commitment to the HR profession.

Here's how SHRM-CP can benefit you:

  • Enhanced Credibility: It demonstrates that you possess the knowledge and skills required to effectively manage HR functions.

  • Increased Earning Potential: SHRM-certified professionals often command higher salaries due to their proven expertise.

  • Career Advancement: The certification can open doors to new opportunities and promotions within your organization.

  • Professional Network: You gain access to a vast network of HR professionals through SHRM, providing valuable connections and resources.

  • Continuous Learning: Maintaining your certification requires ongoing professional development, ensuring you stay current with the latest HR trends and best practices.

In short, the SHRM-CP is more than a certification; it's an investment in your HR career and a badge of honor that sets you apart in a competitive field.

SHRM-CP Certification Requirements

SHRM-CP Certification Requirements

Earning the SHRM-CP certification is a significant step in your HR career, but it requires meeting specific eligibility criteria to ensure you're ready for the rigor of the exam. 

SHRM has designed three distinct pathways to accommodate different levels of education and experience:

Category 1: Education and Experience Combined

This category is ideal for individuals who have a solid foundation in both HR theory and practice. To qualify, you must have:

  • Minimum of one year: Of experience working in a professional-level HR position. This means your role involves more than administrative tasks; you're actively involved in implementing HR policies, advising employees and managers, and handling various HR functions.

  • Bachelor's Degree: You must hold a bachelor's degree in any field from an accredited institution. While an HR degree isn't mandatory, it can certainly be advantageous.

Category 2: Extensive Experience

This category recognizes that experience can be just as valuable as formal education. If you've honed your HR skills on the job, you can qualify with:

  • Minimum of three years: Of experience working in a professional-level HR position, demonstrating your proficiency in handling day-to-day HR operations and contributing to HR initiatives.

  • High School Diploma or Equivalent: While a college degree isn't required, you must have at least a high school diploma or a globally recognized equivalent.

Category 3: Graduate Students

This category is designed for aspiring HR professionals who are currently enrolled in a graduate program. To be eligible, you must be:

  • Actively Pursuing: A graduate degree in HR or a related field, such as organizational development, industrial-organizational psychology, or business administration with an HR concentration.

Understanding "Professional-Level" Experience

SHRM defines "professional-level" experience as work that involves more than just administrative tasks. It encompasses activities like:

  • Implementing HR Policies: Putting into practice the guidelines and procedures that govern various aspects of employment, such as hiring, performance management, and employee relations.

  • Serving as an HR Point Person: Acting as the primary contact for employees and managers seeking guidance on HR matters.

  • Performing Day-to-Day HR Functions: Handling a variety of HR tasks, including onboarding new hires, conducting training sessions, processing payroll, and resolving employee concerns.

Selecting the right category depends on your individual background and career stage: 

  • If you're a recent graduate with limited experience, Category 3 might be the most suitable. 

  • If you have several years of experience under your belt, you could qualify for Category 2, even without a bachelor's degree.

  • For those with a degree and some HR experience, Category 1 might be the fastest route to certification.

No matter which path you choose, meeting the eligibility requirements is just the first step. The real test of your HR knowledge and skills comes with the SHRM-CP exam itself.

SHRM-CP Certification Cost

While the SHRM-CP certification is an invaluable asset for your HR career, it does come with associated costs. Understanding the various fees involved is crucial for budgeting and planning your certification journey.

SHRM-CP Exam Fees

SHRM-CP Exam Fees

The primary cost associated with the SHRM-CP is the exam fee itself, which varies based on your membership status with SHRM:

SHRM Member:

  • Early Bird Registration (Before March 31st): $335

  • Standard Registration: $410


  • Early Bird Registration (Before March 31st): $435

  • Standard Registration: $510

As you can see, SHRM members enjoy significant savings on the exam fee, making membership a worthwhile consideration if you're serious about pursuing the SHRM-CP.

To better understand other costs of the SHRM exam, please refer to the Exam Options and Fees page.

Additional Costs to Consider

Additional Costs to Consider

According to the SHRM store & SHRM Learning system, beyond the exam fee, several other expenses may factor into your overall certification cost:

Study Materials:

  • SHRM Learning System (Official Prep Course): $895 for members, $1145 for non-members

  • Other Study Guides and Resources: Prices vary depending on the provider and format.

Exam Prep Courses:

  • Instructor-Led Courses (Online or In-Person): $500-$1500+

  • Self-Paced Online Courses: $200-$500+


  • If you don't pass the exam on your first attempt, you'll need to pay a retake fee, which is the same as the original exam fee for your membership status.

Membership Fees:

  • If you're not already a SHRM member, you'll need to factor in the cost of membership to take advantage of the discounted exam fee. Annual membership rates vary based on your career level and location.

Financial Aid Options

SHRM understands that the cost of certification can be a barrier for some individuals. 

To make the SHRM-CP more accessible, they offer various financial aid options, including scholarships, payment plans, and employer reimbursement programs.

Budgeting for Success

To ensure you're financially prepared for the SHRM-CP, create a detailed budget that includes all the potential expenses outlined above. 

Research different study materials and prep courses to find options that fit your learning style and budget. 

Consider joining SHRM to take advantage of the discounted exam fee and other member benefits.

SHRM-CP Salary

SHRM-CP Salary

The SHRM-CP certification isn't just about knowledge and expertise; it's a strategic career move that can significantly boost your earning potential.

Let's delve into the data and explore the financial benefits you can expect as a SHRM-certified professional.

Salary Increase

According to SHRM's Compensation Data report, HR professionals with the SHRM-CP certification earn an average of 14-15% more than their non-certified counterparts. 

This translates to a substantial salary increase that can make a significant difference in your financial well-being.

Salary Range by Experience Level

While salaries vary depending on several factors, including experience, location, industry, and job title, the following ranges provide a general idea of what you can expect at different stages of your HR career:

  • Early Career (1-3 years of experience): $55,000 - $75,000

  • Mid-Career (4-9 years of experience): $70,000 - $100,000

  • Senior-Level (10+ years of experience): $95,000 - $140,000+

Salary Range by Job Title

The SHRM-CP certification opens doors to a wide range of HR positions, each with its own salary expectations:

  • HR Generalist: $58,000 - $85,000

  • HR Specialist: $65,000 - $100,000

  • HR Manager: $80,000 - $130,000

  • HR Business Partner: $90,000 - $150,000

  • Compensation & Benefits Manager: $100,000 - $180,000

Geographical Impact & Industry Variations

Your location plays a significant role in your earning potential. Salaries for SHRM-CP holders tend to be higher in major metropolitan areas and regions with a high demand for skilled HR professionals.

The industry you work in also influences your salary. Industries like finance, technology, and healthcare often offer higher salaries for HR professionals compared to other sectors.



SHRM offers two distinct certifications, each tailored to a specific stage and focus within the HR profession: 

  • The SHRM-CP (SHRM Certified Professional).

  • The SHRM-SCP (SHRM Senior Certified Professional).

SHRM-CP: The Foundation for Operational Excellence

The SHRM-CP is designed for HR professionals who primarily operate at the operational level. These individuals are involved in the day-to-day implementation of HR policies, processes, and programs. 

They serve as the primary point of contact for employees and managers on various HR matters, ensuring smooth HR operations and compliance with regulations.

Key Focus Areas for SHRM-CP

  • People: Talent acquisition, onboarding, employee relations, performance management, training and development, diversity and inclusion

  • Organization: Workforce planning, employee engagement, organizational culture, change management

  • Workplace: HRIS (Human Resources Information Systems), compensation and benefits, health and safety, legal compliance

Who Should Pursue the SHRM-CP?

  • Early-Career HR Professionals: Those with less than five years of experience in operational HR roles.

  • HR Generalists: Professionals involved in various HR functions and seeking a comprehensive understanding of HR principles.

  • HR Specialists: Individuals focused on a specific HR area (e.g., recruitment, benefits) who want to broaden their knowledge base.

SHRM-SCP: Elevating to Strategic Leadership

The SHRM-SCP is designed for seasoned HR professionals who have transitioned into strategic leadership roles. 

These individuals are responsible for developing and implementing HR strategies aligned with organizational goals, driving business outcomes, and influencing decision-making at the executive level.

Key Focus Areas for SHRM-SCP

  • Leadership & Navigation: Leading HR initiatives, influencing stakeholders, fostering a positive HR culture, navigating ethical dilemmas

  • Business Acumen: Understanding business operations, aligning HR strategies with business goals, managing HR budgets

  • Consultation: Providing strategic HR advice, analyzing data to inform decision-making, managing change initiatives

  • Critical Evaluation: Evaluating HR programs, measuring HR effectiveness, assessing organizational risks

Who Should Pursue the SHRM-SCP

  • Senior-Level HR Professionals: Those with five or more years of experience in strategic HR roles.

  • HR Managers and Directors: Individuals leading HR teams and responsible for overall HR strategy.

  • HR Business Partners: Professionals who partner with business leaders to drive organizational performance through HR initiatives.

Making the Right Choice SHRM-CP vs. SHRM-SCP

Choosing between the SHRM-CP and SHRM-SCP depends on several factors:

  • Experience: The SHRM-CP is suitable for early-career professionals, while the SHRM-SCP requires a more extensive background in strategic HR.

  • Role: If you primarily focus on operational tasks, the SHRM-CP is a good fit. If you're involved in strategic decision-making, the SHRM-SCP aligns better with your responsibilities.

  • Career Goals: If you aspire to leadership positions in HR, the SHRM-SCP can accelerate your career trajectory.

No matter which path you choose, both the SHRM-CP and SHRM-SCP demonstrate your commitment to professional excellence and can open doors to new opportunities in the dynamic field of Human Resources.


If you're looking to boost your HR career, the SHRM-CP certification is a valuable asset. It demonstrates your commitment to the profession, validates your knowledge, and can lead to increased job opportunities and higher salaries.

In addition, if you are not ready or do not have the budget to get SHRM-CP certification, you can refer to other courses on human resource management at SkillTrans. We collect and provide free and paid courses for various fields, including human resources management.

I hope this blog helps you get started on your SHRM-CP journey!