Free SHRM Recertification Credits for HR Professionals

Free SHRM Recertification Credits for HR Professionals

HR certification programs like SHRM can give you the edge in HR, but you do need to recertify every three years by earning credits through proactive learning and work. Here are free and affordable ways to gain SHRM recertification credits!

Free SHRM Recertification Credits for HR Professionals

If you’re reading this: congratulations! You’re SHRM certified! And if you stumbled on this post, you might be looking for free SHRM Recertification credits. Or maybe, you’re just curious about what maintaining your SHRM certification looks like. Either way, Cooleaf’s got you!

SHRM-CP or SHRM-SCP certification requires human resource professionals to recertify every three years to maintain their credential. You recertify by applying to either take the 4-hour exam again or by earning professional development credits (PDCs) throughout that three-year cycle, which we’re breaking down here.

Scroll down below for some FAQs and resources on where you can find free SHRM credits.

Why you should look into SHRM Certification?

SHRM certification programs are a great way to stand out in the industry, earn a little more credibility and salary, and connect with other HR professionals. You also get to add the certification to your Linkedin title, email signature, and resume. Not too shabby!

Now SHRM, or the Society for Human Resources Management, offers two credentials: SHRM Certified Professional (SHRM-CP) and SHRM Senior Certified Professional (SHRM-SCP).

Both certifications are based on the SHRM BODY of Applied Skills and Knowledge (BASK), which is SHRM’s global standard and focuses on key areas needed to succeed in human resource management. This covers anything from leadership, communication, and business acumen.

These two programs not only highlight your competencies as an HR professional, but your credibility as a leader in the field.

What makes SHRM-CP different versus SHRM-SCP?

Either SHRM program is globally recognized but the key difference is rank (ie: seniority, years of experience) and your own goals.

  • SHRM-CP, according to the SHRM website, is ideal for those “implementing HR policies, supporting day-to-day HR functions, or serving as an HR point of contact for staff and stakeholders.”
  • SHRM-SCP is suited for those “developing HR policies or procedures, overseeing the execution of integrated HR operations, directing an entire HR enterprise or leading the alignment of HR strategies to organizational goals.”

Either SHRM certification options covers a breadth of competencies and includes an extensive exam, costing your own time and energy. So once you achieve your HR certification, it’s a good idea to maintain your SHRM Recertification Credits moving forward.

Other HR Certification Options

SHRM is one of the popular resources based in the United States, but there are additional, also highly credible HR certifications that can support your career. For example, institutions like Academy to Innovate Human Resources (AIHR) or Talent Management Institute offer certification programs for specialities like digital HR or talent acquisition, respectfully.

The HRCI, otherwise known as the HR Certification Institute, is another popular entity that offers global programming and specific delineations:

  • GPHR: Global Professional in Human Resources
  • APHR: Associate Professional in Human Resources
  • PHR: Professional in Human Resources
  • SPHR: Senior Professional in Human Resources

Which HR certification path you choose depends on you and your goals as a professional. We highlight SHRM specifically here, but whichever program you choose, know that many of these programs do require you to maintain that HR recertification.

Why you need to maintain SHRM Recertification Credits

Maintaining your SHRM credential shows you are an HR professional dedicated to self-improvement, HR excellence, and continuing education and development.

There are two ways you can maintain your SHRM certification:

  1. Re-apply to retake the 134-question certification exam over 4 hours (offered remote or in-person)
  2. Commit to 60 credit hours of professional development activities

Certification is an extensive process across several assessments, but maintaining your credential is easy if you are proactive. Along with keeping your certification current, staying on top of recertification keeps you up-to-date in the latest HR community trends, helps you network with others in HR management, and shows you how other organizations manage challenges or changes.

We’ll help you navigate the rectification process and find free resources. But before we break it down, please note that some resources we’ll share for SHRM recertification might apply to AIHR or HRCI certification too. Some programs can apply to both certifications if you manually apply for it too, so always check with the organizer or SHRM.

Okay, now, scroll below for a few of our favorite resources for SHRM recertification credits!

Three different categories for recertification credits

SHRM offers 3 avenues to earn professional development credits (PDCs):

  • Advancing Your Education: instructor-led or self-paced learning
  • Advancing Your Organization: supervisor-approved projects at your company
  • Advancing Your Profession: thought leadership and contributions in the HR industry

We looked at each category to help you find affordable/free options:

Advancing Your Education

Conferences, Seminars, Workshops, & Local Chapter Events

Events like conferences, seminars or workshops that cover the competencies of SHRM’s BASK can earn you a PDC hours. provides online events and conferences so you can stay up-to-date with industry trends while earning credit.

One of our favorite recommendation is HR Summer School, a virtual, free event hosted annually. It started in 2020 as a place to support the HR community and help inspire and encourage one another. The online event continues ever summer and has grown! You can attend one or more sessions to earn 1 PDC credit each and make strong connections with community-focused HR professionals.

If you’re already a SHRM paid member, take advantage of their conferences and online offerings. You can also attend local, monthly SHRM chapter meetings to earn PDC credit.


SHRM offers continuing education courses online so you can learn anything from basic accounting practices for non-financial professionals to how to foster creativity at work. The SHRM newsletter highlights any upcoming event too, so be sure you’re subscribed.

You can also find SHRM recertification credits for webinars hosted through or sites like Greenhouse, Equifax, Culture Amp, and Cooleaf. Usually you can attend the webinars live or on-demand to earn the PDC code. Just follow these brands’ social media pages or sign up for their newsletters so you can stay on top of their latest events.

We love this option as it allows you explore any topics that apply to your interests, goals, or what you need in your own role. From supporting diversity and inclusion on your team to learning how other human resources professionals are advancing work!


HR community favorite podcasts like Honest HR or the Good Morning HR have episodes where you can earn SHRM PDCs for listening. You can also check out the SHRM podcast page for more options to stream.

No surprise, but we’re big fans of the Cooleaf podcast The Great Retention, hosted by our co-founder John Duisberg. Each episode is worth .5 PDC for SHRM or HRCI, but priceless in information. You can stream it on any service or watch it on Youtube.

Visit to tune in!

Books & E-Books

Read for recertification! If you’re a big book fan, reading SHRM certain approved books found on the SHRM site can earn you up to 3 PDC hours. You can also check out your local library for any of the relevant titles. Some also offer an audio book option, perfect for listening during your commute or workout.

Once you finish your human resource read, you’ll need to submit an essay about the book on the SHRM site. Submitting is free too, so you don’t have to worry about additional costs.

Advancing Your Organization

You can earn up to 30 PDCs for projects that support your organization’s goals and exercise BASK competencies. To earn credit you need to submit a brief write-up detailing the project and your impact. SHRM also has examples for this if you need!

For instance, many in human resource management stepped up their support for their teams during COVID-19 and shared their initiatives to remote workforce planning, benefit needs, etc. for credit. Tying it back to BASK, this might relate to Communication or Global Mindset competencies.

As a certified professional, this takes your experience and brings it into action. Qualified projects fall into 3 buckets, broken into 10, 20 and 30 PDCs depending on the hours of work.

Advancing Your Profession

This option centers on your work and your thought leadership in the industry. You can earn up to 30 PDC through this path by showing your understanding of your SHRM BASK assessments through a mix of presentations, writing and publishing work at least 750-words long, and volunteering time towards HR/HR related initiatives.

For volunteering that might look like being an advisory member for a non-profit, serving as a SHRM chapter leader, and dedicating time towards an HR mentoring program. Depending on your volunteer path, you can earn up to 5 PDC credits a year.

Advancing your profession is one of our favorite ways to recertify because it motivates you as an HR professional to push for HR excellence through other ways:

  • Peer-reviewing white papers or articles (1 PDC)
  • Writing an HR related letter or calling Congress or State Legislature (.25 PDC)
  • Participating in SHRM focus groups or surveys (.15 PDC each)
  • Participating in SHRM Capitol Hill visit (3 PDC per year)

Ready to earn those professional development credits?

Certification programs can make you stand out on your resume and amongst your peers. The various ways to recertify make it easy for you to keep up-to-date and advance the human resources industry. What’s more, there are affordable (and free!) ways to keep up with your SHRM Recertification Credits throughout the three year process.

You can keep up with Cooleaf’s webinar (live or on-demand) and latest podcasts to learn and earn by signing up for our newsletter or following our Linkedin page!


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