How long will it take to snag that Human Resources Certification? A certification in Human Resources is your golden ticket to career advancement. Time to get to the point – how long it takes to get certified is not a one-size-fits-all answer. It hinges on the specific certification you aim for, your prior experience, and how quickly you move through the coursework.

How Long Does It Take To Get an HR Certification

We’re here to give you clear-cut details on the expected timeline so you can plan your path to becoming a certified HR pro.

How Long Does It Take?

The time it takes to obtain an HR certification can vary depending on factors, including the type of certification, your background, and the amount of time you can dedicate to preparing for the exam. Generally, most HR certifications take from three to twelve months to complete.

For example, for certifications like the Professional in Human Resources (PHR) or the SHRM Certified Professional (SHRM-CP), candidates often spend an average of three to six months studying if they have relevant HR experience and education.

If you’re starting without a background in HR or can only study part-time, it could take closer to twelve months to prepare for the certification exam.

Remember that many certification bodies require ongoing education or re-certification exams to maintain your status, so the commitment to learning continues well beyond passing the initial certification test.

Enrolling in an HR certification program is typically a several-month commitment, but it’s a worthwhile investment for advancing one’s career in human resources.

Types of HR Certifications You Can Get

If you’re seeking to enrich your Human Resources skill set and validate your expertise, obtaining a certification is a great way. Here are several types of HR certifications you can pursue:

1. Professional in Human Resources (PHR)

The PHR certification is tailored explicitly for HR professionals who are deeply involved in the logistical side of human resources. This certification is a good fit for those who handle day-to-day HR responsibilities like finding and hiring employees, managing employee benefits, and navigating employee issues.

Data shows that HR professionals with a PHR certification often see increased job opportunities and salary potential. According to industry research, PHR-certified professionals can earn up to 15% more than their non-certified peers.

Earning a PHR demonstrates to employers that you have a robust understanding of operational HR practices and are committed to staying current in the field. It signals that you have the practical skills to handle HR tasks effectively.

If your role in HR requires a hands-on approach to managing staff and HR services, the PHR certification is geared toward you. It offers solid proof of your operational HR skills and can provide you with an edge in the job market.

2. Senior Professional in Human Resources (SPHR)

If you’re an HR professional focusing on strategy, the SPHR certification is for you. This credential suits those who spend time crafting and planning HR policies, not just putting them into action.

To earn the SPHR, you need at least four years of experience in a professional-level HR position if you have a Master’s degree, five years if you have a Bachelor’s degree or seven years without a Bachelor’s degree.

The SPHR exam is tough and requires a solid understanding of strategic management, workforce planning and development, and HR policy formulation.

Preparing for the SPHR usually takes a few months of study, as the exam covers a wide range of higher-level HR topics. Once you’re certified, you’ll be recognized as an HR expert, particularly in the strategic aspects of the field.

SHRM Certified Professional (SHRM-CP)

SHRM-CP is for HR pros who implement policies and work closely with employees and key company figures. Here’s the deal:

Who It’s For: You’re in charge of HR policies and deal directly with people at work. This includes advising managers, tackling staff issues, and making sure the wheels turn smoothly.

Study Time: Do you have HR experience or a relevant degree? You need only about three to six months of study. Starting from scratch or super busy? Aim for up to a year to prep.

Exam Details: It tests your HR skills — think about managing people, workplace policies, and how to support the team.

Keep It Fresh: Pass once, but stay sharp. This certification requires you to keep learning or take a refresher test to remain certified.

It is all about making you a solid HR partner. It’s a tight window of six to twelve months of prep for a career boost that keeps giving.

SHRM Senior Certified Professional (SHRM-SCP)

The SHRM-SCP is made for senior HR professionals. These people make big HR plans, guide the HR team, and ensure HR rules help the company’s big goals.

You’re suitable for this if you:

  1. Make HR Strategies: You’re the person who plans the future of HR in your company.
  2. Lead HR Teams: You’re in charge of the HR staff.
  3. Align HR and Business Goals: You match HR policies with the company’s goals

Here’s what you need:

  • Experience: You should have worked in HR at a high level, usually several years.
  • Leadership Skills: You are good at getting teams to work well and follow the big plan.
  • Knowledge: You know a lot about HR and business strategies.

Getting this certificate shows you’re among the top HR leaders and ready to handle tough HR jobs that affect the whole company.

Associate Professional in Talent Development (APTD)

This kind of certification is for those new to the talent development field. It’s designed to prove you’ve got a firm grasp of the basic concepts and can apply your skills in real-world situations.

How long it takes to get your APTD depends on your existing knowledge and experience, but expect to dedicate about six months to study and prepare for the exam. This timeframe assumes you’re studying while working, so you might be ready even sooner if you can commit more time each week.

You’ll need to cover topics like instructional design, training delivery, and learning technologies—core areas that form the foundation of talent development. Once you earn the APTD shows employers you’re serious about your role and ready to contribute effectively to a team.

Getting the APTD is an intelligent move if you’re starting. It can set you apart in the job market and lay the groundwork for future advancement in the talent development field.

Certified Professional in Learning and Performance (CPLP)

If you’re an HR professional focused on learning and development, the CPLP (Certified Professional in Learning and Performance) could be a game-changer for your career. Getting this certification isn’t instant, but it’s a clear-cut process.

Study Time: Expect to study for at least six months. If you’re already familiar with the material or can study full-time, you might wrap it up faster in about three months. Newbies to the field or part-timers should plan for closer to a year of study time.

Exam Parts: The CPLP involves two major components: knowledge and skills application exams. You’ll need to pass both to get certified.

Experience Requirement: You should have at least five years of professional experience or four years plus a degree.

Maintaining Certification: Remember, the CPLP requires you to show continuous growth in the field. You’ll gather and submit at least 60 professional development credits every three years to renew your certification.

Certified Compensation Professional (CCP)

If you’re into setting up and managing pay structures, consider the Certified Compensation Professional (CCP) credential. This cert shows you know your stuff when it comes to salaries and benefits.

Now, how long will it take to get CCP certified? If you’re working full-time in compensation, it might take 2-3 years to pass all the necessary exams, assuming you pass each one on your first try. You must also keep learning and following new rules to keep your CCP valid.

Getting CCP certified is a serious investment of time and effort, but if compensation is your thing, it’s a clear way to show you’re at the top of your game.

Global Professional in Human Resources (GPHR)

For HR professionals who deal with international HR responsibilities, covering cross-border HR operations.

Each certification typically requires passing an exam and maintaining the credential through continued education or retake exams.

These certifications are recognized differently across various industries and organizations but are generally accepted as high achievement standards within the HR field. They often lead to better job opportunities, higher salaries, and a deeper understanding of HR functions.

Tips to Starting a Career in HR

  • Gain Experience Early: Jump into volunteer work with nonprofits or community groups. It’s a hands-on experience that’ll come in handy later.
  • Internships Are Key: Snag an internship. They’re not just resume boosters – they could lead to a job.
  • Know Your Target: Spend time understanding companies before applying. Happy employee reviews? It’s a good sign.
  • Move from the Inside: Consider starting in a different department. It’s a backdoor into the HR world.
  • Networking Works: Talking to professionals in the field can lead to job tips and long-term career allies.
  • Build Essential Skills: Sharpen those communication and problem-solving abilities. They’re your HR bread and butter.
  • Understand HR Roles: Look at the different HR jobs and aim for one that fits you. It’s about finding your niche and growing from there.

Kickstart Your HR Career with IAML

Ready for a career boost in HR? IAML offers over 40 years of top-notch HR training. Our practical Certificate programs suit any career stage and meet today’s job demands. Train with us for a valuable and effective learning journey that’ll set you apart in HR. Start now and step into a successful HR future.


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