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HR certifications and courses are a great way to gain skills and knowledge, try out potential new career paths, and connect with the wider community.

They can be helpful for anyone in a management position, not just HR professionals.

In this article, we've compiled a list of the best HR certifications you can take online or in-person to provide more value to your organization and progress in your career.

26 Best HR Certificates and Courses

1. HRCI Certification

The HR Certification Institute (HRCI) is one of the top credentialing organizations when it comes to human resource professional standards. Their courses and examinations set a standard for HR rigor and excellence in the field.

HRCI certifications cater to HR professionals at all levels and for practitioners operating globally. For example, popular credentials are the Professional In Human Resources (PHR) which covers talent planning, business management, and employee relations, and the Senior Professional in Human Resources (SPHR) which is more strategy-focused.

Beyond individuals, HRCI also offers team certifications that seek to raise the abilities of the entire HR department.

  • Price: Begins at $300 per certification
  • Duration: Variable
  • Exam Required: Yes
  • Online, In-Person, or both?: Both
  • How many hours of instruction: Various
  • Eligibility Requirements: Degree/Master's degree/year's of experience (beginner certifications are open to all)

2. SHRM Certification

The Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) needs no introduction in the HR space and their certifications are popular.

SHRM offers two certifications depending on your HR experience. The SHRM Certified Professional (SHRM-CP) is for those earlier in their careers and focuses on the operational side of things, and the SHRM Senior Certified Professional (SHRM-SCP) is for those working at a more strategic level.

There are a couple of assessment tools available to help you decide which to take and a learning system to help you prepare for the certification exam.

  • Price: Begins at $500 for exams
  • Duration: Variable
  • Exam Required: Yes
  • 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: None - variable depending on which stream you are in

3. Cornell 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 course combines the insights of academic researchers grounded in strategies that 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: from $3,900
  • 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. 

4. George Brown College

The college offers human resources certification programs spanning the HR field, from people analytics to DE&I.

They were created to assist those who already working on the administration side of HR in an effort to expand and upgrade their skills, but they're also great if you're aiming to move up in management as a human resource professional and are just beginning that process.

  • Price: $319 per module (10 modules) 
  • Duration: 6 weeks per module
  • Exam Required: Yes
  • Online, In-Person, or both?: Online
  • How many hours of instruction: 36 per module
  • Eligibility Requirements: HRM 1031 Human Resources Management 

5. York University Certificate in Human Resources Management 

This course is designed by York University for students to gain a good understanding of HR fundamentals 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 coursework.

  • 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.

6. Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD)

The CIPD is a 100-year-old professional body supporting the people profession. Their work involves setting professional standards for HR and people development and driving positive change in the world of work.

CIPD offers HR qualifications for those at every stage in their HR journey. Upon successful completion, you're awarded a membership ranking commensurate with your level of expertise.

  • Price: Membership ranges from £98 for students to £260 for affiliates
  • 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 

7. Golden State University 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 skill sets. 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.
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8. 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 organizational success is in aligning human capital with business strategy; that businesses with aligned human capital strategy outperform others; and human resources and talent management professionals must have the right strategic skill sets and mindsets to achieve the first two. 

The Human Capital Institute has several offerings that allow you to gain new skills, get certified, 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 

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 they're knowledgeable and committed to quality.

  • Price: $445 for exam only
  • 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 

10. McMaster Human Resources Management Program

McMaster University offers a comprehensive human resources program that includes 4 3-course certificates and 1 diploma program. Many courses are approved by the Human Resources Professional Association and can be applied towards a CHRP or CHRL certification. 

Certificates are offered in a virtual classroom format and help build skills in HR management, talent planning and acquisition, workplace health and safety, and intercultural competency and communication.

Work towards your CHRP and CHRL designations while building confidence and forming valuable network connections all through virtual learning or online self-study.  

  • Price: $59 non-refundable application fee + $700-800 per course
  • Duration: Each certificate consists of 3 courses (3.0 units each) and can be completed in approx. 4 months.
  • Exam Required: No
  • Online, In-Person, or both?: Online
  • How many hours of instruction:  approx. 36 hours per course
  • Eligibility Requirements: Have an O.S.S. Diploma or be a mature student

11. Calgary University Human Resources Management Certificate

The Human Resources Management Certificate at University of Calgary offers 300 hours of instruction with 3 core courses and up to 13 additional optional credits, all culminating in a certificate. Perfect for those looking for a foundation in HR or who are preparing for the CHRP designation. 

The program offers a variety of optional courses such as conflict management, employee benefits, and building a positive workplace that can help you specialize and steer your interest in a direction best suited for your career.

  • Price: $105 application fee + $5400 tuition fees
  • Duration: Complete certificate in approx. 4 months to 1 year, you may enroll in single courses
  • Exam Required: Unknown
  • Online, In-Person, or both?: Online
  • How many hours of instruction:  300 hours
  • Eligibility Requirements: 18 years of age and have your Grade 12 diploma
Course Certification

12. Simon Fraser Human Resources Management Certificate

Simon Fraser University offers a 9-course certificate accredited by CPHR British Columbia and Yukon. Successful grads of this program, who earn a min GPA of 70%, can apply to be exempt from writing the National Knowledge Exam, the first step towards earning the Canadian National HR designation the CPHR.

The completed certificate can also be applied to the Graduate Diploma in Business Administration at SFU Beedie School of Business, no undergraduate degree required. 

  • Price: $75 application fee + $749 per course
  • Duration: 8 weeks (7-10 hours per week)
  • Exam Required: Unknown
  • Online, In-Person, or both?: Online
  • How many hours of instruction:  36 hours per course
  • Eligibility Requirements: Grade 12 diploma or at least 5 years of work experience

13. TMU Human Resources Management Certificate

TMU offers a 6-course Human Resource Management Certificate through the Chang School of Continuing Education. The majority of the courses offered by this certificate are exempted by the CHRP and can be applied directly to your designation.

The certificate consists of 2 core courses and 4 optional courses that offer a practical approach to HR management focusing on diversity and inclusivity, training, and HR strategy. 

  • Price: $75 program application fee + $500-700 per course
  • Duration: 6 courses can be completed in approx. 4 months to a 1 year
  • Exam Required: Unknown
  • Online, In-Person, or both?: Online and in-person
  • How many hours of instruction: 36-40 hours per course
  • Eligibility Requirements: Grade 12 diploma with 6 M or U credits or mature student status, cumulative GP of 1.67

14. Human Resource Management Graduate Certificate 

Established in 1988, this program is the only one of its kind in Canada. Perfect for those wanting to learn about all aspects of human resources and who are interested in pursuing a field placement or internship. Humber offers comprehensive core courses that are recognized by the HRPA and can be applied to the HRPA designation. Study with an HR-specialized faculty who focus on hands-on applications and have a track record of guiding students towards successful work placements and careers. 

The program also has a rich network of professionals and mentorship programs via the IGS Industry and the Community Connector Hub which connects students with the career resources they need. 

  • Price: $440 program application fee + $5966.40 tuition per year
  • Duration: 3 semesters
  • Exam Required: Unknown
  • Online, In-Person, or both?: Online and in-person
  • How many hours of instruction: 36-40 hours per course
  • Eligibility Requirements: Bachelor’s Degree

15. The Academy to Innovate HR (AIHR)

AIHR offers an entire online library of HR certification programs and courses. The academy offers a specialized full program that allows students to choose unlimited, multiple certifications to be completed during an extended period of time or you can choose to hone in on one specialty area and earn your certification in subjects such as Strategic HR Leadership, Digital HR and HR Metrics and Dashboarding.

The AIHR focuses on developing T-shaped professionals through 4 requirements: data literacy, digital integration, business acumen, and people advocacy. 

  • Price: $975 per course or $1,650 for full access
  • Duration: 12 months
  • Exam Required: Unknown
  • Online, In-Person, or both?: Online
  • How many hours of instruction: 30-40 hours per certification program
  • Eligibility Requirements: No experience needed

16. Talent Management Practitioner by the Talent Management Institute

Known as the world’s largest certification institute for specifically talent management, if you know you want to specialize in talent management, this could be a good choice for you.

The program offers three different credentials, TMP (Talent Management Practitioner), STMP (Senior Talent Management Practioner) and GTML (Global Talent Mangement Leader) which are all globally recognized as talent management certifications. 

  • Price: $625
  • Duration: 180 days
  • Exam Required: Yes
  • Online, In-Person, or both?: Online
  • How many hours of instruction: Self-paced and self-study
  • Eligibility Requirements: Dependant on application

17. Certified Professional in Talent Development (CPTD)

This certification, offered by the Association for Talent and Development (ADT), is geared toward more developed business professionals. The courses follow the Talent Development Capability Model developed by the ADT which focuses on personal, professional and organizational capabilities. You must apply through the website for the exam and to access study materials. 

  • Price: $975 for members and $1350 for non-members. 
  • Duration: 3 hour exam
  • Exam Required: Yes
  • Online, In-Person, or both?: Online
  • How many hours of instruction: Self-paced
  • Eligibility Requirements: 5 years of related work experience and 60 hours of professional development 

18. Sheridan College Human Resource Management Certificate

Sheridan College offers a Human Resources certificate with two exam prep courses that can be used as a pre-cursor to the CHRP and CHRL designation exam.

The course begins with 2 introductory courses, followed by 9 compulsory modules in finance, analytics, and occupational health and safety. 

  • Price: ~$300 per module. 
  • Duration: 4 months to 1 year
  • Exam Required: Unknown
  • Online, In-Person, or both?: Online and in-person
  • How many hours of instruction: 30-40 hours per course
  • Eligibility Requirements: Unknown

19. Mastering Talent Management: Recruiting, Retaining and Rewarding A+ Talent

This program offered by Wharton School at University of Pennsylvania is unique in that they have developed an HR study model that focuses on whole organizations instead of individual outcomes.

If you are a C-level human resources professional who has aspirations of becoming a CEO, or working in an executive position, this course will help you to upgrade your skills and apply concepts in an experiential format.

  • Price: $2,600
  • Duration: 6 weeks
  • Exam Required: No
  • Online, In-Person, or both?: Online
  • How many hours of instruction: 4-6 hours per week
  • Eligibility Requirements: Years of experience working in an HR or business field

20. University of Toronto Human Resources Program

The University of Toronto offers a human resources program and 3 certificates in Human Resources, Human Resources Management Essentials and Managing, Investigating, and Resolving Workplace Harrassment Complaints.

Some courses fulfill credits for CHRP and CHRL designations and are taught online as well as in person. Go at your own pace and enroll in individual courses or choose a full program of study. 

  • Price: $795 per course
  • Duration: Self-paced
  • Exam Required: Unknown
  • Online, In-Person, or both?: In-person and Online
  • How many hours of instruction: 30-40 hours per course
  • Eligibility Requirements: Unknown

21. University of Pittsburgh HR Law Certification Program

This program is designed to help you gain a deeper understanding of the laws and regulations that govern HR, as well as best practices and practical applications of in a rapidly changing legal landscape.

The course is taught by the Pitt Law faculty, all practicing employment lawyers, who will help you explore current issues and emerging trends in human resource law and how to address issues when they arise.

Students are offered the flexibility to work to their own timelines and network with peers through the online learning platform.

A great course for those who want to gain a deeper understanding of HR laws and regulations. Most use this to supplement graduate degrees but, as far as we can see, this isn’t a requirement.

  • Price: On request
  • Duration: 10 months
  • Exam Required: Yes
  • Online, In-Person, or both?: Online
  • How many hours of instruction: ~1 day per week
  • Eligibility Requirements: None

22. Certified Compensation Professional (CCP) from World At Work

Becoming a certified compensation professional will open up a lot of career opportunities for you.

World at Work’s certification is widely recognized and is aimed at mid-level HR professionals who want to improve their knowledge and compensation issues and best practices.

There are a total of 10 courses and exams that one must complete to gain full certification, which does add up, so it’s worth asking if your organization will cover some of it.

  • Price: $13,500 (members), $19,290 (non-members)
  • Duration: 10 courses and exams
  • Exam Required: Yes
  • Online, In-Person, or both?: Both
  • How many hours of instruction: 160 hours +
  • Eligibility Requirements: None

23. Certified Employee Benefits Specialist (CEBS)

 This course from Wharton and Dalhousie University is the most respected in the benefits industry. 

It’s aimed at HR professionals who want to gain a deep understanding of benefits administration and double down on that as their career path.

The program consists of five courses covering ​​​directing benefits​ programs, strategic benefits management and directing retirement plans, and you'll gain both the Group Benefits Association (GBA) and Retirement Plans Association (RPA) along the way.

All the material is available online and learners also have access to an online study group with instructor support. Reports are it’s a tough one to pass, but worth the investment, so buckle up!

  • Price: ~$5,000
  • Duration: 3 years
  • Exam Required: Yes
  • Online, In-Person, or both?: Online
  • How many hours of instruction: N/A
  • Eligibility Requirements: None

24. People Analytics Certification from HR University

Being able to collect, interpret, and present data is a strategic skill if you want to become an HR leader. This people analytics certification from HR University covers basic statistics, HR metrics, data collection, survey creation, using Excel software, and HR dashboard creation. 

You’ll have access to over 90 videos and 15 classes and be given materials, like templates and Excel sheets, you can use in your organization.

  • Price: $199 each
  • Duration: 10 weeks
  • Exam Required: Unknown
  • Online, In-Person, or both?: Online 
  • How many hours of instruction: 4hours/week
  • Eligibility Requirements: None

25. Associate Certified Coach (ACC) Credential

Part of being an HR practitioner, especially a senior one, is mentoring and coaching junior team members, managers, and leadership.

This certification from the International Coaching Federation (ICF) will help you hone your coaching skills and signal that you are dedicated to upholding strong principles of ethical behavior in coaching.

To pass you need to complete at least 60 hours of coaching education through an ICF-approved program and gain a minimum of 100 hours of coaching experience. There’s an exam at the end, too.

  • Price: $175 (members), $325 (non-members)
  • Duration: 160 hours
  • Exam Required: Yes
  • Online, In-Person, or both?: Both
  • How many hours of instruction: N/A
  • Eligibility Requirements: demonstrate 10 hours of mentorship coaching.

26. SDSU Professional Certificate in Human Resource Management

The SDSU Global Campus offers a range of career advancement courses spanning industries. 

The Professional Certificate in Human Resource Management is suitable for both aspiring HR professionals and those already working in the industry. It will give you the foundation you need to become a well-rounded HR generalist with a focus on goal alignment, performance management, and workplace culture.

There’s also the option to tailor the program to suit your particular interests and career.

  • Price: $4,575
  • Duration: 1 year
  • Exam Required: Yes
  • Online, In-Person, or both?: Online
  • Eligibility Requirements: BA Capstone requires completing of previous modules

How To Choose The Right HR Certification

Define your goals

Start by clarifying your career objectives and the specific skills or knowledge areas you want to develop through a certification.

Research certification programs

Explore different HR certification programs available from reputable organizations, institutions, and professional associations (this list is a good start!). 

Look for programs that offer comprehensive curriculum coverage, industry recognition, and practical relevance to your career aspirations.

  • Check accreditation and reputation: Verify the accreditation status and reputation of the certification provider. Accredited programs adhere to established quality standards, ensuring that your certification holds credibility and value in the eyes of employers and peers.
  • Review curriculum and requirements: Evaluate the content, structure, and requirements of each certification program to determine if they match your learning preferences and schedule. Assess factors such as course duration, delivery format (e.g., online, in-person), assessment methods, and prerequisites.
  • Assess instructor qualifications and support: Consider the qualifications and expertise of instructors or facilitators involved in delivering the certification program. Look for programs that offer access to experienced educators, mentors, or subject matter experts who can provide guidance and support throughout your learning journey.
  • Consider industry relevance: Choose a certification that reflects current industry trends, best practices, and emerging HR software solutions. Look for programs that incorporate real-world case studies, practical exercises, and hands-on experience to ensure the applicability of your learning in professional settings.
  • Evaluate costs and return on investment (ROI): Assess the cost of enrolling in each certification program, including tuition fees, materials, exam fees, and any additional expenses. Compare the investment required against the potential career benefits, such as increased earning potential, job opportunities, and professional advancement.
  • Seek feedback and reviews: Research feedback and reviews from past participants or professionals who have completed the certification program (Reddit and other forums are useful here). Consider their insights regarding the program's effectiveness, relevance, and overall satisfaction to gain a better understanding of what to expect.
  • Consider specialized certifications: Depending on your career goals and interests, you might want to explore specialized certifications focusing on specific areas such as employee experience, strategy, or startups.
  • Consult with peers and mentors: Seek advice from experienced professionals, mentors, or colleagues who have achieved similar certifications. They can offer valuable recommendations, insights, and firsthand experiences to help you make an informed decision.

By following these steps and conducting thorough research, you can choose an HR certification that empowers you to enhance your skills, advance your career, and make meaningful contributions to the field of human resources.

Benefits Of Earning An HR Certification

Investing in oneself is never a bad thing, but here are the specific benefits of enrollment in an HR certification.

  • Industry-specific skills and knowledge: An HR certification will provide structured learning paths that cover essential concepts, techniques, and best practices in HR. Completing a certification can help you develop a comprehensive skill set, including instructional design, training delivery, needs analysis, and evaluation methods.
  • Credibility and recognition: Holding a recognized certification demonstrates your commitment to the field of HR and validates your expertise to employers, colleagues, and clients.
  • Career advancement: Certifications can open doors to new career opportunities and advancement within the HR profession.
  • Networking opportunities: Certification programs often provide opportunities to connect with other professionals in the field through workshops, seminars, online forums, and networking events. Building a strong professional network can provide valuable insights, support, and collaboration opportunities throughout your career.
  • Stay updated with industry trends: HR certification programs are designed to incorporate the latest industry trends, technologies, and research findings. By participating in a certification program, you can stay abreast of emerging practices and innovative approaches in the field, ensuring that your skills remain relevant and competitive.
  • Increased job satisfaction: Acquiring new knowledge and skills through certification can lead to increased job satisfaction and confidence in your abilities. As you apply your learning to real-world scenarios, you may experience greater fulfillment in your work and achieve better outcomes for your organization.
  • Personal growth: Beyond professional benefits, pursuing a certification in HR can contribute to your personal growth and development. It challenges you to expand your horizons, think critically, and problem-solve creatively, fostering a sense of accomplishment and self-improvement.

HR Certifications To Prepare You For The Future

The above list covers a broad range of certifications to help you progress in your HR career.

Looking to 2024:

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By Finn Bartram

Finn is an editor at People Managing People. He's passionate about growing organizations where people are empowered to continuously improve and genuinely enjoy coming to work. If not at his desk, you can find him playing sports or enjoying the great outdoors.