Ultimate Guide to HRIS Certifications

HRIS Certifications

Human resources information systems (HRIS) certifications have been witnessing high demand, ultimately because employers now require their HR professionals to go beyond the basics knowledge of how the software works. Instead, businesses expect HRIS analysts, among others, to be able to reap all the benefits of an HRIS software’s capabilities.

An HRIS certification serves to expand HR personnel’s knowledge and understanding of HR-related software, its functions, trends, and best practices. Simultaneously, it gives those holding it an edge among the competition when it comes to job applications – providing the tangible evidence the person is equipped to handle the job.

This article talks about the three leading HRIS certification providers along with their offerings, prices, and more. On top of that, we touch on background information related to HRIS certifications at large.

1. International Association for Human Resource Information Management (IHRIM) – HRIP Certification

Designed to provide a comprehensive assessment of professionals in the HR information management field, the Human Resource Information Professional (HRIP) Certification is a well-rounded one covering all the fundamentals of HRIM/HRIS. There’s nothing it misses from technology and functions to the latest updates, trends, and best practices.

Accordingly, an HR employee who passes the certification exam is guaranteed to possess the needed competencies to excel in HRIS-related jobs. Not just that, but upon seeking recertification, the requirements include being up to date with the latest changes in the field, ensuring lifelong learning.

On that note, it’s also worth noting that passing the exam isn’t the only prerequisite for the certification process. Once the HRIP credential is granted, it remains active for three years from its approval. Still, to maintain it, 60 recertification credit hours are required during the 3-year period, along with the necessary documentation to validate them.

While there are no requirements to sit for the exam, the provider, the International Association for Human Resource Information Management (IHRIM), recommends having at least 3-5 years of hands-on experience in HR technology solutions or information management.

Cost: $445 for IHRIM members, $555 for non-members.

2.  Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) Certifications

Offering two competency-based certifications, SHRM has long been HR professionals’ go-to for comprehensive resources that empower them to accelerate their careers and contribute more to their workplaces. The certifications are the SHRM Certified Professional (SHRM-CP) and SHRM Senior Certified Professional (SHRM-SCP).

The former, the SHRM-CP, targets HR professionals functioning at the operational level of HR. These individuals support day-to-day functions, serve as the focal point for staff and stakeholders, and implement HR policies. In other words, it’s geared towards early and mid-career professionals.

As for the latter, the SHRM-SCP, it’s for HR professionals working at the strategic level of HR, performing functions like executing integrated HR operations, developing HR policies and procedures, leading an HR enterprise, and similar. Essentially, it’s for senior-level practitioners.

Both certifications are based on SHRM’s Body of Competency and Knowledge (SHRM BoCK), which boosts HR professionals’ competencies in three main clusters: leadership, interpersonal, and business. Over and above that, it covers 15 HR knowledge areas that are vital when it comes to a given HR professional’s success.

Individuals go through a 4-hour, computer-based exam consisting of 160 questions relating to the clusters and areas mentioned above to obtain the certification. Once obtained, the certification is valid for three years, after which HR professionals need to get recertified either by completing 60 Professional Development Credits (PDCs) or retaking the exam.

Cost: $375 for SHRM members, $475 for non-members.

3. HR Certification Institute (HRCI) Certifications

Saving the best for last, the HRCI offers eight different certifications for HR professionals depending on their interests, experience, and job nature. Therefore, regardless of whether an HR personnel is an entry, mid-level, or senior individual, they’ll undoubtedly find a certification for their skills.

Despite that, HRCI certifications are far from being easy to obtain. Regardless of their certification of choice, all candidates must demonstrate mastery of human resources principles and have years of professional experience and educational requirements before sitting for the exam. Additionally, they’re required to recertify every three years.

Below are snapshots of each of the certifications.

Associate Professional in Human Resources (aPHR)

Meant for fresh college graduates, armed services men or women making the transition to civilian life, professionals looking to make a career shift to penetrate the HR field, or non-HR managers who still lead a team of employees, the aPHR certificate is the only one which doesn’t require prior HR experience.

Educational experience in HR is also not mandatory. Instead, all that’s needed is a high school diploma or equivalent since the certification is a knowledge-based credential.

To obtain this certification, candidates sit for a 135-minute exam covering the basic areas of HR, including HR operations, recruitment and selection, compensation and benefits, employee relations, HR development and retention, and health, safety, and security.

In a nutshell, it’s for anyone looking to get started with their HR career journey.

Cost: $300 plus a $100 application fee.

Associate Professional in Human Resources – International (aPHRi)

Being the twin of the previous certification, the aPHRi is precisely like the aPHR except for the fact that it’s for HR or business professionals located outside of the United States. Other than that, everything else is the same. It’s just shorter and lasts for 105 minutes instead of 135.

Cost: $300 plus a $100 application fee.

Professional in Human Resources (PHR)

Going a level higher, the PHR Certification is meant for those who have little experience in HR but still stand on solid ground when it comes to HR-focused responsibilities within an HR department. The ideal candidate is familiar with program implementation, tactical/logistical orientation, and HR accountability.

For that reason, this certification requires either one year of experience in a professional-level HR position accompanied by a Master’s degree or higher, two years of experience in a professional-level HR position accompanied by a Bachelor’s degree, or four years of experience in a professional-level HR position.

The 2-hour exam tests employee and labor relations knowledge, talent planning and acquisition, business management, learning and development, and total rewards. A person who obtains the certification has demonstrated knowledge of technical and operational HR management concepts, particularly U.S. laws and regulations.

Cost: $395 plus a $100 application fee.

Professional in Human Resources – California (PHRca)

Being exactly like the PHR certification, the PHRca’s requirements, components, and even fees are identical to those of the PHR. The highlight of the certification is that it’s tailored to the laws, regulations, and HR practices of the state of California. The exam is also 15 minutes longer than that of the PHR.

Cost: $395 plus a $100 application fee.

Professional in Human Resources – International (PHRi)

As its name implies, the PHRi mid-level credential is the third sibling of the previous two certifications but is tweaked for internationally based candidates. At its core, the certification conveys mastery of generally accepted HR principles (technical and operational), regardless of geographic region.

While the requirements are identical to those of the PHR and PHRca, the PHRi accepts global equivalents of a Master’s degree and Bachelor’s degree. Furthermore, those with four years of experience aren’t required to have more than secondary education. Another key difference is the duration of the exam, which is 3 hours and 15 minutes.

Cost: $395 plus a $100 application fee.

Senior Professional in Human Resources (SPHR)

Meant for HR leaders in senior-level HR positions, the SPHR Certification bears testimony to the credibility of the HR professional and their mastery of both the strategic and policy-making aspects of HR management. The perfect candidates for this certification are “big-picture thinkers” who plan and not just implement HR policies.

To be eligible for the certification, the candidate must have either four years of experience in a professional-level HR position accompanied by a Master’s degree or higher, five years of experience in a professional-level HR position accompanied by a Bachelor’s degree, or seven years of experience in a professional-level HR position with less than a high school diploma or its equivalent.

The exam, which lasts for 2.5 hours, delves into leadership and strategy, talent planning and acquisition, learning and development, business leadership, HR service delivery, employee relations and engagement, measurement and analysis, and total rewards.

Cost: $495 plus a $100 application fee.

Senior Professional in Human Resources – International (SPHRi)

We know the drill by now! The SPHRi follows the same path that the SPHR does. The main distinguishing factor is that the certification complements local HR practices, regardless of the geographic region that the candidate resides in.

Since HRCI always makes sure to tweak its requirements whenever possible to appeal to more candidates, the requirements are identical to those of the SPHR, except that it accepts global equivalents of a master’s degree and Bachelor’s degree. Plus, those with seven years of experience aren’t required to have more than secondary education.

It’s also worth noting that the SPHRi requires documented knowledge and familiarity with local employment laws.

Cost: $495 plus a $100 application fee.

Global Professional in Human Resources (GPHR)

Last but not least, the GPHR is best suited for individuals with multinational HR expertise, demonstrating mastery of globalization strategies, HR policies development, organizational global growth initiatives, and more. The exam is only available for individuals with multinational responsibilities.

To be eligible, the candidate must have at least two years of experience in a professional-level HR position accompanied by a Master’s degree or higher, three years of experience in a professional-level HR position accompanied by a Bachelor’s degree, or at least four years of experience in a professional-level HR position.

Lasting for 3 hours, the exam tests knowledge of strategic HR management, global talent acquisition and mobility, global compensation and benefits, talent and organizational development, workforce relations, and risk management.

Cost: $495 plus a $100 application fee.

Will Getting an HRIS Certification Help You Earn More Money?

This is an inevitable question that many HR professionals ask – after all, seeking an HRIS certification is an investment, both on time and financial fronts. Indeed, the question is valid, especially with the rising number of HR job postings requiring certification.

To give you a straightforward answer, yes, obtaining a certification will help you earn more money. According to Payscale.com, those who attain certifications have a better chance at job opportunities with increased pay scales and salary earnings. That also applies to all HR job levels, from an assistant to a director.

But how high of an increase are we talking? To put things into perspective, we’re talking as higher as $10,000 per year when comparing between a certified versus a non-certified professional.

It’s also worth mentioning that certifications are held in higher regard in particular cities than they are in others in the United States, cities like Washington D.C., Boston, Chicago, and Los Angeles, among others, value certifications to a great extent and the difference between certified and non-certified professionals can be around $20,000 or more.

Further proving the same concept relating to earnings, a Business Administration Information study in 2013 revealed that 93% of professionals with an SPHR certification, for example, earn much higher than those who don’t hold the certification.

Benefits of HRIS Certification

Before concluding the article, it’s worth emphasizing some of the less-obvious benefits of obtaining an HRIS certification, apart from the increased pay.

Proof of Up-to-Date Skills

Since most HRIS certifications require recertifications after a certain timeframe (mostly three years) to maintain certification credentials, most HR professionals work hard to keep the certification valid.

For that, the majority pursue professional development opportunities as opposed to the certification exam, which empowers them to stay up-to-date with the latest happenings in their respective fields. Accordingly, the certification is living proof that the person holding it is committed to personal development, career progression, and lifelong learning.

Evidence of a Strong Sense of Professionalism

Obtaining an HRIS certification is by no means an easy task. Actually, it takes a lot of commitment, effort, and dedication, which is why hiring managers appreciate the passion that goes into the whole process.

When hiring managers consider the lengthy steps of obtaining a certification, the fees involved, and the rigorous requirements (that must be maintained even after the certification is granted), they know for a fact that the HR professional is entirely serious about the profession, field, and their own personal development.

For them, that serves as a signal that the certified HR individual will perform better in their job, be more committed, have a passion for knowledge, and stay up to date with the latest trends and best practices of the industry.

Of course, that’s along with the fact that most HRIS certifications are based on realistic job scenarios, work situations, practical knowledge, and more, further guaranteeing that the new hire won’t require too much training to get up to speed with the organization’s operations.

Simply put, an HRIS certification proves that you’re a committed individual who isn’t likely to make a career shift out of human resources anytime soon.

Higher Chances of Hireability and Promotability

An HRIS certification doesn’t only give salaries a push, but it also increases the likelihood of getting hired and boosts chances of promotability. In fact, the U.S. Bureau of Labor claims that individuals with either a certification or master’s degree, especially in human resources management, should have the best job prospects.

Not just that, but it’s also not uncommon for recruiters to make their final hiring decisions among candidates with similar education and experience based on certifications. While they’re not obligatory, certifications can be the “make it or break it” of a hiring decision.

That’s ultimately why the chunk of mid-level to senior-level job postings have a mention of certification somewhere in their required qualifications.

Diverse Networking Opportunities

Going through the process of HRIS certification is almost always guaranteed to provide professionals with an opportunity to network with like-minded individuals who share the same career paths or goals as one another.

More often than not, these network opportunities unlock a door of potential for candidates, ranging from job opportunities to fruitful job discussions and mutual learning opportunities.

When opting for an HRIS certification, most providers develop member-related events, conferences, webinars, and more related to HR, bringing together leaders and HR professionals from all over the world.

That’s undoubtedly a valuable benefit of connecting with industry leaders and popular speakers, expanding knowledge, sharing ideas, and staying connected overall with the HR field.

Final Thoughts

With today’s ever-evolving HR scene, particularly when it comes to HR technology, it’s becoming increasingly challenging for HR professionals to stand out and prove value for organizations. With that being the case, an HRIS certification is always the way to go, providing the means for HR professionals to authenticate their expertise and credibility.