9 Top HR Certifications Every Beginner Must Take
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When you are serious about your career and future growth opportunities you need to make decisions wisely. This is critical because you want to use your skills and talent the right way to make a mark professionally. Also, it would make sense to hone your skills and use that as a stepping stone to building your career. 

Human Resource (HR) isn’t just about recruiting but much more. Being in HR, you are responsible for managing the employee’s life cycle right from recruiting, hiring, onboarding, training, administering employee benefits, and managing their exits. This requires a lot more than just the natural skills and empathy that you have toward your colleagues. 

Having the right HR certification can provide you with the right platform that you need to build your career as an HR professional. Hence, you must look for the right HR certification that would allow you to hone your skills and make the most of your talent as well. 

In recent times, the HR role has evolved massively and therefore it is no longer only about recruitment and hiring for the company you work for. Today, you can find many HR certifications that would help you learn more about human resources and how you can create your career path as a successful HR manager.

Why You Should Be Certified in HR as a Beginner?

If you are planning to make your career as an HR professional you must look for the best certifications that can help you make the most out of your career aspirations. 

Here are 8 reasons why you should be certified in HR as a beginner.

#1 Enhance Your Career Opportunities

In a fiercely competitive professional world, you need something that gives you an edge over your peers and fellow jobseekers. Having an HR certification would ensure that employers choose you over those who don’t have the relevant certification. 

With the right certification, you can boost your chances to get the job that you’ve always wanted. If you are a beginner, you have very little chance of being selected against other job seekers that have relevant job knowledge and experience. However, having an HR certification would add value to your resume and help you develop your career as a professional in human resources. 

#2 Add Value to Your Specialization

It is also critical that you focus on how you can add value to your specialization. If you are sure about making your career as an HR professional you would want to opt for HR certifications that would help you learn more about the changing role of HR in the current situation. Being certified adds to your existing knowledge and prepares you thoroughly for the challenges that you face when you are working as an HR professional. 

#3 Boost Professional Confidence

Having the right knowledge can boost your morale and confidence to the next level. Being a certified HR professional allows you to know more about how you can handle challenges and resolve employee-related issues and can be a confidence booster allowing you to become better at what you do. With relevant knowledge, you would also be capable of demonstrating a high level of commitment to be efficient and productive and add an image to the company.

#4 Understand Your Job

Companies today have a lot on their hands and this means that they prefer to pick candidates who know their job. Having the right certification for HR allows you to understand the intricacies of your role as an HR professional and how you can contribute and be productive. Various companies today prefer to pick candidates with HR certification because they prefer employees that come with basic knowledge and understanding of their job role. Having an HR certification also indicates to your employer that you are serious about your career in human resources. 

#5 Opportunities for Promotion

With time, all beginners dream of promotion and climbing up the professional ladder. Being certified instills confidence in your employer that you have what it takes to become an HR professional and move up the ladder. It showcases your commitment, and talent and allows you to be efficient in doing your duty and bring productivity to the company. Having a certification also gives you an edge over other employees in the department when you are looking for an internal promotion scenario.

#6 Increases Job Security

Getting a certification isn’t just about securing a job but about keeping it as well. In a world where layoffs are becoming a common thing, you want to ensure that you can keep your job. Being a certified HR professional allows you to have increased job security. With the right knowledge and information, you have all the tools you need to perform your job at a high level and impress your superiors and managers. 

#7 Better Income Opportunities

When you have an additional skill, employers are bound to pay you more for what you bring to the table. With the right HR certification, you can ensure your chances of getting better pay even if you are a beginner. The certification empowers you to showcase to your employer the value you offer to the company. This would allow you to get a better income by getting paid based on your worth.  

#8 Get Professional Recognition

Also, when you are a beginner you would want to have certain professional recognition that is hard to get unless you have a certain level of experience or degree. HR certification allows you to have professional recognition across the globe and allows you to secure a job in the HR field even in different countries.

Various countries today prefer to hire HR professionals with certification. This is where you get an edge over other job-seeking applicants. Hence, you can ensure that you have certain benefits that allow you to move up the ladder. You can also use your certification to secure better opportunities anywhere globally. 

9 Top HR Certifications for Beginners

With plenty of HR certifications available it can be overwhelming for beginners to decide which one is the best HR certification they can choose from. 

Let’s take a quick look at the top HR certifications for beginners. 

#1 Associate Professional in Human Resource – International (aPHRi) by HRCI

Human Resources Certification Institute (HRCI) is one of the most popular and prestigious organizations in the human resource field. While they provide different HR certifications for different levels you can choose the Associate Professional in Human Resource – International which would be ideal for beginners. 

This certification is suitable for candidates who are looking to push their career towards growth in the HR segment. Additionally, this certification allows you to demonstrate your knowledge of foundational HR in any locale. 

The certification covers topics like HR operations, recruitment and selection, employee relations, talent development, health and safety, compensations and benefits, and retention. 

Exam Fees: $300.00

Application Fee: $100.00

Exam Time: 1 hour and 45 minutes (plus 30 minutes of administration time)

Exam Length: 65 scored questions + 25 pretest questions


For this certification, no previous HR experience is required since this is a knowledge-based credential.

Validity: This aPHRi certification remains valid for three years after testing. 

#2 SHRM Certified Professional Certification by SHRM

If you are a beginner looking for HR certification for your career you can look for SHRM-CP certification from Society for Human Resource Management. This certification is ideal for those who want to make a career in the HR field and perform general HR and HR-related duties at work. With the SHRM-CP exam, you can secure basic working knowledge in HR.

This certification covers topics like organization, people, leadership, business, interpersonal, and workplace. 

Exam Fees: $300.00

Application Fee: $100.00

Exam Time: 4 hours (including 3 hours and 40 minutes of testing time)

Exam Length: 134 scored questions (of which 24 are field-tested items)


For this certification, there is no requirement to hold any HR title or previous HR experience.

#3 Administrative HR for Beginners by Udemy

If you are interested in online programs that can provide you with the right HR certification you can look for Administrative HR for Beginners. This certification is a great way to explore the role of human resources (HR) from administration and compliance to business growth and strategy. Focus on how to do an HR audit. Find out more about the recruitment and talent acquisition process and writing job postings and interviews. This certification is also ideal for anyone interested in management or related fields. 

Eligibility: No previous HR experience is required for this course. 

#4 Associate Professional in Human Resources by HRCI

Apart from aPHRi, Human Resources Certification Institute (HRCI) also has another certification program that allows you to boost your career growth in the HR field. Unlike other programs and certifications, aPHR is the first-ever HR certification designed for human resource professionals at the beginning of their career and non-HR professionals. 

This certification covers topics like compliance and risk management, employee relations, talent acquisition, compensation and benefits, learning, and development. 

Exam Fees: $300.00

Application Fee: $100.00

Exam Time: 1 hour and 45 minutes (plus 30 minutes of administration time)

Exam Length: 65 scored questions + 25 pretest questions


For this certification, no previous HR experience is required since this is a knowledge-based credential.

Validity: This aPHRi certification remains valid for three years after testing. 

#5 HR Generalist Certificate Program by AIHR

When you are planning to make the most of your HR career you can look for certification from Academy to Innovate HR (AIHR). With the AIHR HR Generalist online certification, you can have the knowledge, tools, and templates that you need to succeed as an HR professional. This certification allows you to know how to set up policy frameworks to manage payrolls and have a wide range of skills to manage HR administration. 

Additionally, you will also learn to identify HR priorities, align people policies with business growth, and increase HR’s strategic values. It also helps you to learn more about common HR mistakes and how to avoid them. 

You can have on-demand video lessons and practical downloadable guides that would allow you to have all the resources you need for this certification. 

Duration: Study 4 hours per week to finish in 10 weeks

Content: 5 courses (35 video lessons + case studies + assignments

#6 Strategic Talent Acquisition (STA) Certification by Human Capital Institute

Having the right knowledge about talent acquisition is critical especially when you want to become an HR professional. This certification allows you to attract, assess and acquire talent that will accelerate your business strategy. The certification focuses on case studies, best practices, and various innovations in the field of human resources to help you with an action plan in a real-world scenario.  

Course Fee: $1995 for each course.

Duration: The online certification program would last around 2 months. 

Exam Details: Multiple choice questions.

Eligibility: You don’t need to have any previous HR titles or experience. You can choose this certification even if you are an aspiring HR professional.

#7 Associate Professional in Talent Development (APTD) by Association for Talent Development (ATD)

If you have plans to get into the HR field you need to have relevant information that can help you become a better HR professional. With Associate Professional in Talent Development certification by ATD Certification Institute, you can have a thorough foundational knowledge of the Talent Development Capability Model. This certification can help you with having more knowledge in talent development.

This model covers all three important domains: personal capabilities, organizational capabilities, and professional capabilities. 

Exam Fee: $499 (members) and $699 (non-members)

Eligibility: The certification is ideal for a typical APTD credential holder with 3-5 years of experience in talent development. This certification also is the stepping stone for the CPTD certification by ATD Certification Institute. 

Exam Time: 2 hours

Exam Length: 115 multiple-choice questions

#8 Human Resource Management Certificate Program by eCornell 

Another excellent HR certification that you can choose as a beginner is the Human Resource Management Cornell Certificate Program by eCornell. This online certification would help you with improving your core competencies that every HR professional should know. 

The certification would train managers on how to deliver effective performance feedback, mitigate legal risk, and rate employees accurately. Additionally, it would focus on analyzing labor relations between management, unions, and employees. It would help with identifying effective planning, recruitment, and selection processes. Choose training methods, technologies, and content that are appropriate for the new employees. 

Eligibility: The certification is ideal for aspiring HR professionals, new HR professionals with zero to five years of HR experience, and non-HR management executives. 

Course Length: 2 weeks

Program Duration: 4.5 months

Effort: 3 to 5 hours per week

Format: 100% Online

#9 Strategic HR Leadership Certification by AIHR

Leadership development skills are critical in almost any field you choose. Being an HR professional you will have to make big decisions for your business or company that can impact the bottom line. With Strategic HR Leadership Certification by AIHR, you can broaden your skills and talent and come up with better HR operating models, focusing on lean management and business administration. 

This certification is ideal for those who want to enhance their existing HR skills or want to learn more about management. 

Exam Fee: $997 

Program Format: 100% Online

Eligibility: No previous HR experience is required for this certification.

Exam Details: You need to complete 41 video lessons, assignments, and quizzes. 


Working as an HR professional is both rewarding and challenging. Often HR is associated with recruitment but in the evolving business world, a lot is expected and desired from an HR professional. As an HR professional, you need to address the concerns expressed by your employees, focus on recruitment and staffing, training, learning and onboarding, labor and employee relations, and a lot more. All this requires a lot more than basic skills, kindness, and empathy. 

Hence, you must become a certified HR professional that would offer the best opportunities to work with the best companies in the market. Also, it would prepare you for the challenges and allow you to be efficient and productive for your company. It also allows you to know your job better and boosts confidence. It opens up more doors for promotions and a sense of job security and universal recognition. While there are plenty of options to learn more about human resource management, having the right HR certification can make a difference. Choosing the right human resources certification would allow you to make the most of your knowledge, skills, and core competencies and ensure that you can be more efficient and productive and find a defining career path for yourself. 

FAQs on HR Certifications for Beginners

How do these certification courses work?

Different certification courses have different materials and instructional design requirements. The course is further divided into multiple lessons and topics that are covered during the program. In some cases, quizzes are assigned toward the end, which concludes the lesson. However, certain certification programs have multiple-choice questions that you need to answer during the exam period. 

Do I need to be eligible by the time I take the exam or when I apply?

Eligibility requirements must be met at the time you apply for the exam. Various courses and certifications have different eligibility requirements and therefore you need to read that before you apply for these certifications. 

What is a badge in HR Certifications?

Various institutes and organizations that provide HR certifications, offer a digital badge which is a version of your credential in a digital format. This represents and showcases the accomplishments you’ve earned through various online institutes and organizations. You can post your digital badge on your social media profile and your website. Your employers, clients, and peers can click on the badge and view the metadata. 

Do the exam study material change annually in HR Certifications?

In most cases, the study material does change keeping in mind the current market needs and market feedback. All content changes and enhancements made are aligned online. However, this generally happens every three to five years and not on an annual basis. 

What are HRCI and SHRM Certifications?

While SHRM created HRCI four decades ago, both are now separate and distinct organizations and they both have separate certifications. These are competency-based certifications and they ensure that the HR professionals that secure these certifications have a thorough knowledge of the HR profession and their role in the business. 

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