Which Test? HRCI or SHRM?

Whether you are new to HR (yes, those new to HR can sit for the aPHR exam), taking on new HR responsibilities, looking for more depth and breadth in your current knowledge level, or simply wanting to build expertise in the profession, you can do it with this course and the professional certification.

Probably the most frequent question we receive from HR professionals is how to determine which credential is best for them: HRCI (aPHR, PHR, SPHR) or SHRM (SHRM-CP or SHRM-SCP)?

The simple answer is neither – both are excellent certifications that demonstrate your mastery of the profession. We do not to endorse either testing body. We encourage you to evaluate both through visiting their websites, talking with your colleagues, reviewing the eligibility criteria, testing windows, and costs.

We are happy to answer general questions about each, and we do a thorough review of both tests during our first week of class, but we believe the HR profession and knowledge base is tested thoroughly by both organizations.

Except for the aPHR, all certification tests require previous HR experience and/or education. We strongly encourage you to verify your eligibility for the exams prior to registering for our course or for the actual certification exams. Specific questions regarding your own eligibility should be directed to the certifying body.

Human Resources Certification Institute (HRCI)


aPHR - Associate Professional in Human Resources

“The aPHR is the perfect certification to help fast-track your career growth and provide you with the confidence to launch into the HR profession. The aPHR is the first-ever HR certification designed for professionals who are just beginning their HR career journey and proves your knowledge of foundational HR.” – HRCI website 

aPHR Exam Content Outline

PHR - Professional in Human Resources

“The PHR is for the HR professional who has experience with program implementation, has a tactical/logistical orientation, is accountable to another HR professional within the organization, and has responsibilities that focus on the HR department rather than the whole organization.” – HRCI website

PHR Exam Content Outline

SPHR - Senior Professional in Human Resources

“The SPHR demonstrates your mastery of the strategic and policy-making aspects of HR management as practiced in the US. The credential is designed for big picture thinkers responsible for planning rather than implementing HR policy…...proven accountability for HR department goals, for breadth and depth of knowledge in all HR disciplines, and for understanding business issues beyond the HR function.” – HRCI website

SPHR Exam Content Outline

Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM)


SHRM CP (Certified Professional)

“HR professionals who implement policies and strategies, serve as point of contact for staff and stakeholders, deliver HR services, and perform operational HR functions, should take the SHRM-CP exam.” – SHRM website

SHRM SCP (Senior Certified Professional)

“HR professionals who develop strategies, lead the HR function, foster influence in the community, analyze performance metrics, and align HR strategies to organizational goals, should take the HSMR-SCP exam.” – SHRM website

SHRM Certification Handbook