How to Become SHRM Certified

shrm certified, shrm-cp, shrm scp, how to be shrm certified

Post updated as of January, 2021

If you’re investigating how to become SHRM certified, you’ll want to know the different types of certifications, the cost and deadlines, as well as the best way to prepare yourself to take the certification exams.

SHRM Offers Two Levels of Certification: SHRM-CP and SHRM-SCP

SHRM Certified Professional (SHRM-CP) are 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 Senior Certified Professional (SHRM-SCP) are 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 SHRM-SCP exam.

SHRM Certification Deadlines & Cost

The SHRM exams must be taken during a specific window of opportunity, as outlined below, which is why preparation and study is so important. Additionally, passing the text on your first try means you only have to pay the exam fee once. If you must take the exam again, you’ll have to wait until the next exam window and pay the full exam fee again.

2021 Spring Testing Window: May 1 – July 15, 2021

Apps Accepted Reg. App Deadline Late App Deadline
Jan. 4, 2021 Mar. 19, 2021 Apr. 9, 2021

The testing windows are the dates during which the exams are administered. The regular application deadline dates are the dates during which candidates can register for the exam. Candidates who apply during the late application period will incur a nonrefundable late fee.


Exam Fees SHRM Member Price Nonmember Price
Early Bird Exam Fee $300 USD $400 USD
Exam Fee (SHRM-CP & SHRM-SCP) $375 USD (includes non-refundable $75 standard deadline fee) $475 USD (includes non-refundable $75 standard deadline fee)
Application Processing Fee (nonrefundable) $50 USD (included in exam fee) $50 USD (included in exam fee)
Transfer Fee $100 USD

(subject to additional $53 Prometric exam cancellation fee when applicable)

$100 USD

(subject to additional $53 Prometric exam cancellation fee when applicable)

Retest Fee Full exam fee Full exam fee
Rescore Fee $50 USD $50 USD

The SHRM Certification Tests

Following each administration of the SHRM certification exams, in accordance with guidance from the SHRM Certification Commission, SHRM publishes the global exam pass rates for the SHRM-CP and SHRM-SCP. The most recent data from SHRM indicates a 70 percent pass rate for SHRM-CP, and an average 55 percent pass rate for the SHRM-SCP.

Exam Period SHRM-CP Pass Rate SHRM-SCP Pass Rate
​May – Aug. 2020 67%​ 54%
Dec. 2019 – Feb. 2020​ 66% 41%
May – July 2019 68% 55%

While both tests are challenging, the SHRM-SCP certification is significantly more so.

The SHRM-CP and SHRM-SCP exams contain two types of multiple choice questions: stand-alone knowledge-based items that assess a candidate’s knowledge and understanding of factual information, and scenario-based situational judgment items that assess a candidate’s judgment, application and decision-making skills.

There are two categories of stand-alone knowledge-based items on the SHRM-CP and SHRM-SCP exams. Items in the first category, referred to as HR-specific knowledge Items (KIs), cover key concept topics associated with the 15 HR functional areas, while items in the second category, referred to as foundational knowledge items (FKIs), cover key concept topics considered foundational to the eight behavioral competencies. Examinees receive credit for selecting the correct answer to a given question; otherwise, no credit is awarded.

Situational judgment items (SJIs) assess candidates’ judgment and decision-making skills, which are not easily measured using traditional knowledge-based questions. Examinees are presented with realistic work-related scenarios and asked to choose the best of several possible strategies to resolve or address the issues described in each scenario. Although more than one strategy may be effective for addressing actual work-related scenarios, examinees only receive credit for choosing the best possible answer, as determined by a panel of experienced HR professionals. All other answers, which reflect either less effective or ineffective strategies, receive no credit.

SHRM Certification Exam Prep

HR practitioners are well aware of the difficulty of these exams and there is a lot of advice out there on methods of preparation for the SHRM certifications. First, there’s no “trick” to passing the exams. Preparation involves study and memorization, no matter how long you’ve been working in the HR field or what your degree is in. What does make the process easier is having an organized study schedule and preparation ahead of the exam to ensure you’ll pass it the first time you take it.   

LEARN by Workology prepares you to ace your SHRM certification with a mix of self-paced, social and face-to-face learning designed for the modern HR professional. LEARN preparation courses keep you energized and helps you retain what you learn so you can put it to use long after you earn your SHRM-CP or SHRM-SCP certification.

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Jessica Miller-Merrell

Jessica Miller-Merrell (@jmillermerrell) is a workplace change agent, author and consultant focused on human resources and talent acquisition living in Austin, TX. Recognized by Forbes as a top 50 social media influencer and is a global speaker. She’s the founder of Workology, a workplace HR resource and host of the Workology Podcast.

Reader Interactions


  1. Batha Asif says

    where do I need to go to give exams if I am in Karachi Pakistan?
    will I get prep material with the package?
    till when I can submit fees?
    when will be next test in 2019?

  2. aravinda lochanan says




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