Photo of Popular HR Certification And Courses

The 6 Best HR Certification Courses For 2020

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 at least 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.

6 Most Popular HR Certification and Courses

1. HRCI Certification

HRCI certification 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 and in flagging people with HR expertise. 

They have been in the business of teaching HR for more than 40 years and are one of the most respected organizations that offer professional certifications. 

If you want to build your knowledge base before an exam at the HR Certification Institute, there are courses for all levels.The courses offered are for those who are just starting out in the field, those who want to upgrade their skills, and those who want to learn about a particular area of HR. They cover all the topics that you need to attain certification or simply take on a basis of interest.

The HRCI offers a few different certification programs including:

  • 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 make sure the company and employees who are hired 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:


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).


There is also a SHRM-SCP certification, which is the SHRM Senior Certified Professional certification. That one 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

The 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 an effort to learn more of the core HR functions and upgrade their skills so they can work a higher level HR job. 

It’s suitable for anyone aiming to move up in management as a human resource professional and are 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.

Final Thoughts

Whether you are interested in taking one course or a full set for a human resource management certificate, you can find many to suit your needs. For further insight into the HR field and information that might interest you, sign up for The People Managing People newsletter. You will find lots of interesting reading, support, and advice in the field of Human Resources.

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