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The 9 Best HR Certification Courses For 2021

HR certification and courses are helpful for your professional development in any management position. 

Taking courses gives you tools to broaden your management abilities, learn new HR strategies, and keep up with important changes in employment law and labor relations.

While bigger companies tend to have an HR manager, having a good understanding of HR within your department is a benefit as well. 

In this article, I’ll explain the best online human resources certificate and courses available to support your department and give you additional tools to be a great manager.

1. HRCI Certification

HRCI certification is one of the top credentialing and learning organizations for the HR profession. Their courses and examinations set the standard for HR rigor and excellence in the field, and in training people with HR expertise. 

If you want to build your knowledge base before an exam at the HR Certification Institute, there are courses for all levels. They cover all the topics that you need to attain certification or simply take out of interest.

The certification programs offered by HRCI includes:

  • aPHR (Associate Professional in Human Resources) 
  • aPHRi (Associate Professional in Human Resources—International)
  • PHR (Professional in Human Resources)
  • PHRca (Professional in Human Resources—California)
  • PHRi (Professional in Human Resources — International)
  • SPHR (Senior Professional in Human Resources)
  • SPHRi (Senior Professional in Human Resources—International)
  • GPHR (Global Professional in Human Resources)

If you’re just starting to look at the HRCI for an HR management certification exam, here’s some basic info to start:

  • Price: Begins at $149 per course
  • Duration: Variable
  • Exam Required: Yes, for most certificates
  • Online, In-Person, or both? Both
  • How many hours of instruction: Various
  • Eligibility Requirements: None – most beginner courses are open to all

2. SHRM Certification

The SHRM certification is meant to enhance an individual’s effectiveness in the workplace and move their careers forward while networking with other business leaders. 

SHRM stands for Society for Human Resource Management. Their programs focus on helping students understand that effective people management is needed to ensure the company and employees are on the same page and have similar goals. Students learn how to apply the knowledge gained in courses to their workplace so they can be part of a team to enhance and support the company’s goals.

Like the HRCI, SHRM has many different HR certification programs targeted at various levels of the HR career ladder:

SHRM-CP

This is the main certification they offer, the SHRM Certified Professional. Here’s the basic info:

  • Price: $300-400 
  • Duration: Variable
  • Exam Required: Yes, 4 hours in length online
  • Online, In-Person, or both?  Depends on timing
  • How many hours of instruction: Various as you can take courses elsewhere before the exam
  • Eligibility Requirements: Unless you have a Graduate Degree, you’ll need to have at least 1 year of experience in an HR role (and up to 4 depending on your level of education).

SHRM-SCP

There is also a SHRM-SCP certification, which is the SHRM Senior Certified Professional certification. It requires between 3 and 7 years of experience in an HR role (depending on your level of education).

Here’s the HR experience you’d need for the SHRM-SCP:

  • Education less than a bachelor’s degree, incl. high school diploma: 6-7 years’ work experience in an HR role
  • Bachelor’s degree: 4-5 years’ experience in an HR role
  • Master’s degree or Graduate degree: 3-4 years’ experience in an HR role

The online exam to get this HR certification costs $300-400 and takes about 4 hours.

3. George Brown College

George Brown College offers human resources certification programs aimed at those who are already at the management level. 

It was created to assist those who are already working on the administration side of HR in learning more of the other core HR functions, and upgrade their skills, so they can progress further in their careers. 

It’s suitable for anyone aiming to move up in management as a human resource professional and is just beginning that process.

It is also a great course if you are in a specialized area of HR and want to become more of an HR generalist role. Price: $319 per module (10 modules) 

  • Duration: 6 weeks per module
  • Exam Required: Yes
  • Online, In-Person, or both?  In-Person
  • How many hours of instruction:  36 per module
  • Eligibility Requirements:  HRM 1031 Human Resources Management

4. Certificate in Human Resources Management

This course is designed by York University for students to gain a good understanding of concepts in HR while accessing networks of professionals. You can study this HR certificate program while balancing both your professional and personal lives, learning the core competencies of the HR professional as set out by the Human Resources Professional Association. A quality human resources certification program for all who want to improve their standing in the field without having to take time off from work to do the course work.

  • Price: $6,921
  • Duration:  2 years
  • Exam Required: Yes
  • Online, In-Person, or both?  Online
  • How many hours of instruction:  9 courses – flexible timing
  • Eligibility Requirements:  1-year college or university – general qualifications to be admitted to the University.

5. Human Resources Certificate Program

Cornell University offers numerous courses in Human Resources that allow you to obtain full certification or take courses one at a time. The university combines the insights and real-world input of academic researchers grounded in reality and have been utilized in the real world. These courses are meant for those who are new to HR as well as those who are accomplished in the field. There is something for every career.

  • Price: $5,400
  • Duration:  4.5 months – 2 weeks per course
  • Exam Required: Yes
  • Online, In-Person, or both?  Online
  • How many hours of instruction:  3-5 hours per week
  • Eligibility Requirements: Global professionals, line-level HR professionals 0-5 years, those who want to be in the field.

6. Human Resource Management

This is one of the top Human Resource Management programs available online. Golden State University offers courses where students learn to understand and deal with the problems and situations that are coming up in an ever-changing human resources industry. You also learn good personnel management techniques and people analytics along with organizational structures and skillsets. You gain firsthand experience from the best teachers available. The options for accessing the courses are flexible but the timelines are set. Make sure you have the time to dedicate to these professional-level courses.

  • Price: $600 per course – 15 courses for certification
  • Duration:  1 term
  • Exam Required: Yes
  • Online, In-Person, or both?  It can be done online or in San Francisco if you are local.
  • How many hours of instruction:  Various depending on the module
  • Eligibility Requirements: Various depending on the module. Some have prerequisites.

7. Human Capital Institute

Based in Cincinnati, Ohio the Human Capital Institute delivers Certification programs and Conferences virtually worldwide. They have 3 core beliefs: that the greatest accelerator of organisational success is in aligning human capital with business strategy; that businesses with aligned human capital strategy outperform others; and to enable organisations to do this, Human Resources and talent management professionals must have the right strategic skill sets and mindsets. 

The Human Capital Institute has a number of offerings that allow you to gain new skills, get certificated, attend virtual conferences and webcasts, as well as corporate solutions for your HR teams. 

  • Price: Ranges from $1,195 to $2,795
  • Duration:  Most are delivered in Half Day sessions over 4 to 6 weeks
  • Exam Required: Yes
  • Online, In-Person, or both?  Both
  • How many hours of instruction:  Depending on the program 
  • Eligibility Requirements: None, all courses are open to everyone 

8. Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development

CIPD is a 100-year-old professional body for the experts in people at work. Their work involves setting professional standards for HR and people development and driving positive change in the world of work. CIPD offers membership-based access to more than just certification programs but also a community, wellbeing helpline services, and employment law support. Courses are focused on practical operational know-how and high-level strategic insight, among others.

  • Price: Membership ranges from £98 for students, to £260 for Affiliate
  • Duration: Go at your own pace, lessons are downloadable course workbooks 
  • Exam Required: Unknown
  • Online, In-Person, or both?  Online
  • How many hours of instruction:  Flexible access, some just taking 30-45 minutes per lesson
  • Eligibility Requirements: None openly stated on the website 

9. International Association for Human Resources Information Management

IHRIM has been around since 1980, helping both novice and experienced HR professionals adapt to technological revolutions in the HR landscape. Through IHRIM, you can earn the Human Resource Information Professional Certification (HRIP). The HRIP is designed to help HR professionals build their credibility, demonstrate their expertise, and send a message that you are knowledgeable and committed to quality.

  • Price: Depending on your membership status, fees range from $445 to $790
  • Duration: Exam Review Courses are scheduled and last 3 weeks
  • Exam Required: Yes, via recorded proctoring via webcam
  • Online, In-Person, or both?  Online
  • How many hours of instruction:  75 minutes per session, 6 sessions in total
  • Eligibility Requirements: None, but 3-5 years of experience in HR technology solutions and/or management is recommended 

Final Thoughts

Whether you are interested in taking one course or a full set for a human resource management certificate, there are many available to suit your needs. If you’re looking to get HRIS certified, here’s our Comprehensive Guide To HRIS Certifications to help you get started.

You could also apply to join the People Managing People community, a supportive community of HR professionals and business leaders connecting and sharing knowledge—Apply Here.