Updated March 22, 2010:
HR certification is a career-long commitment that proves to your peers and your organization that you are driven to be successful in HR management. Earning your HR credentials can:
Increase your professional confidence
Set you apart from your peers
Result in greater respect from the organization in which you work
Professional certification is an outward manifestation of your inward commitment to your profession. Through certification, HR professionals can demonstrate their proficiency of the core body of HR knowledge, principles of HR practice, and the application of those principles.
Whether you are new to the career or an established professional, I would encourage everyone to obtain the relevant certification or recertification. Through certification, our integrity, and diligent work ethic, we will continue to raise the bar for the Human Resources profession.
For a quick overview of certification, download a brochure here.
For detailed information, download the Certification Handbook here.
Learn more about certification by visiting the HRCI website (www.hrci.org)
Frequently Asked Questions - Certification
What Changes are Coming in 2011?
In keeping with best practices for certification programs, the HR Certification Institute conducted an extensive multi-pronged study of the eligibility requirements of their three core products: Professional in Human Resources (PHR), Senior Professional in Human Resources (SPHR) and Global Professional in Human Resources (GPHR).
Based on feedback from both certified and non-certified HR professionals, business leaders, students and academicians, the requirements will now include a combination of education and experience.
To learn more about the 2011 Eligibility Requirements and a list of Eligibility FAQ's for HR Certification Exams, click here.
What is HR Certification?
The Human Resource Certification Institute (HRCI, www.hrci.org), which maintains the nationally recognized standards set by individuals working in the profession, offers four levels of professional certification:
PHR® (Professional in Human Resources)
SPHR® (Senior Professional in Human Resources)
GPHR® (Global Professional in Human Resources)
PHR-CA® and SPHR-CA® (PHR and SPHR with state certification in California)
These certifications signify a specific mastery of the human resource body of knowledge. Since human resource management is such a dynamic field, constantly changing, HR professionals need to demonstrate currency through re-certification.
Certification is a voluntary action to grant recognition to professionals who have met a comprehensive level of training and work experience. Certified individuals are issued a certificate attesting that they have met the professionals standards of the credentialing organization (HRCI) and are entitled to make the public aware of their credentialed status, usually through the use of initials (e.g., PHR, SPHR, GPHR) after their names. SHRM and its affiliates strongly support professional certification.
What is HRCI?
HRCI is the leading independent internationally recognized certifying body for the HR profession. They are the certifying body administers certification and recertification for SHRM.
In 2008, the National Commission for Certifying Agencies (NCCA) granted accreditation to the HR Certification Institute for demonstrating compliance with the NCCA Standards for the Accreditation of Certification Programs.
HRCI’s website (www.hrci.org) contains valuable information about certification, the exam, schedules, fees, etc.
Why is Certification Important?
Professional certification shows that you have demonstrated mastery of the HR body of knowledge and have accepted the personal challenge to stay abreast of new developments in the field of Human Resources.
What is the Purpose and Use of Certification?
PHR, SPHR and GPHR certification shows that the holder has demonstrated mastery of the domestic or international HR body of knowledge and, through recertification, has accepted the challenge to stay informed of latest developments in the HR field.
The PHR, SPHR and GPHR designations are a visible reminder to peers and co-workers of the holder’s significant professional achievement. PHR-, SPHR- and GPHR-certified professionals should proudly display their certificates and use the credentials on business correspondence.
What Does Examination Involve?
Exam questions reflect the most recently published body of knowledge.
Four hours are allotted to complete the PHR or SPHR exam, three hours for the GPHR exam.
The passing score for each exam (based on a scaled score) is 500. The maximum possible score is 700.
The emphasis of the SPHR examination is on strategic and policy issues, while the emphasis of the PHR examination on the operational / technical aspects of HR. The emphasis of the GPHR examination is on global aspects.
Once certified, the certification is valid for three years.
How Do I Choose an Exam?
To qualify for any HRCI exam, an individual should have two (2) years of exempt-level HR work experience. Beginning with the 2011 exams, the requirements will become more stringent depending on the years of experience and level of education a candidate has.
You should choose the exam that best fits your knowledge and skills in the field. An honest assessment of skills, knowledge and responsibilities within the HR function is critical when deciding whether to seek certification as a PHR, SPHR, or GPHR.
The Professional in Human Resources (PHR) certification is designed for the HR professional who has more of a tactical, operational, or logistical orientation. A PHR candidate is one who:
· Focuses on program implementation.
· Has tactical/logistical orientation.
· Has accountability to another HR professional within the organization.
· Has two to four years of exempt-level generalist HR work experience, but because of career length may lack the breadth and depth of a more senior-level generalist.
· Has not had progressive HR work experience by virtue of career length.
· Focuses his or her impact within the HR department rather than organization-wide.
· Commands respect through the credibility of knowledge and the use of policies and guidelines to make decisions.
The Senior Professional in Human Resources (SPHR) certification is designed for the HR professional who designs and plans rather than implements HR policies. An SPHR candidate is also one who:
· Focuses on the “big picture.”
· Has ultimate accountability in the HR department.
· Has six to eight years of progressive HR experience.
· Has breadth and depth of HR generalist knowledge.
· Uses judgment obtained with time and application of knowledge.
· Has generalist role within organization.
· Understands the effect of decisions made within and outside of the organization.
· Understands the business, not just the HR function.
· Manages relationships; has influence within overall organization.
· Commands credibility within organization, community and field by experience.
· Possesses excellent negotiation skills.
The Global Professional in Human Resources (GPHR) certification is deigned for the HR professional with cross-border responsibilities who:
· Develops and implement global HR strategies
· Manages cross-border HR operations and international assignments
What Areas Does the Certification Exam Cover?
The PHR and SPHR exams cover six HR functional areas. The exam materials are weighted according to exam level.
The GPHR covers five functional areas.
What are the Examination Schedules, Deadlines, and Fees?
Exam testing periods, application deadlines and examination fees are listed on the HRCI website. Click here to view the current exam schedules and fees.
Two exam testing periods are offered annually, in spring and winter.
Applicants are encouraged to apply and schedule their test dates early to ensure they will be able to schedule a time and test location of their choice. Late applications will be accepted however, a $50 late fee added if application is not received by regular application deadline.
Fees vary for SHRM members and non-SHRM members. To receive the reduced national SHRM member rate, candidates must have a current national SHRM membership and provide their SHRM membership number on the application.
Where Can I Take The Exam?
Examination locations are available in Utah at the following locations:
· Lindon, Utah
· Taylorsville, Utah
· University of Utah
What Exam Preparation Resources Are Available?
Whether you select to self-study, create a study group or take an HR Certification preparation course, select the method that will ensure your success. There are numerous resources to assist you in the PHR/SPHR exam preparation.
HR Certification Institute (www.hrci.org). Everything you need to know and more about human resources certification.
Society for Human Resources Managmenet (www.shrm.org). Great articles and materials to supplement the text. SHRM offers the comprehensive SHRM Learning System as a resource to prepare for the HR exam. Details are available at http://www.shrm.org/learning/.
Human Resource Certification Preparation. (
Human Resource Certification Training. (www.phrsphrtraining.com) Cd-rom, video training courses
HRCI Study (www.hrcistudy.com) Online study courses
HR Certification Institute Official PHR and SPHR Certification Guide by Raymond Weinberg (2009). ISBN-10: 1586441493. HRCI.
PHR/SPHR Professional in HR Certification Study Guide by Ann Bogardus (2009). ISBN-10: 0470430966. Sybex Publishing.
PHR Exam Prep by Cathy Lee Gibson. (2007). ISBN-10: 0789736772. Pearson Education.
SPHR Exam Prep: Senior Professional in Human Resources by Larry Phillips. (2007). ISBN-10: 0789736764. Pearson Education.
Kaplan Human Resource Certification: Proven, Practical Tools to Help You Pass the PHR and SPHR Exams by Karen Yasgoor and Susan Bressler (2008). ISBN-10: 1427797277. Kaplan Publishing.
PHR Exam Secrets Study Guide: PHR Test Review for the Professional in Human Resources Certification Exam by PHR Exam Secrets Test Prep Team (2009). ASIN: B0010YZA2I. Mometrix Media LLC
SPHR Exam Secrets Study Guide: SPHR Test Review for the Senior Professional in Human Resources Certification Exam by SPHR Exam Secrets Test Prep Team (2009). ASIN: B0010YZM1M. Mometrix Media LLC
Human Resource Management & HRCI Exam Guide Pk by Mondy and Noe (2004). ISBN-10: 013141461X. Prentice Hall Publishing.
Human Resources Management by Robert Mathis and John Jackson (2007). ISBN-10: 0324542755. South-Western College Publishing.
Certification Preparation Courses:
Inclusion on the list is not an endorsement by the Utah Human Resources State Council or SHRM. Questions concerning the preparation courses should be directed to the respective organizations.
Davis Applied Technology College – Test preparation courses offered spring and fall. Contact Hailee Long, Continuing Education Coordinator, 801-593-2359, firstname.lastname@example.org .
Utah State University – Test preparation courses taught spring and fall at SLCC. Contact Suzette Alder at 435-797-1789, email@example.com, or visit the website: http://huntsman.usu.edu/management/htm/certification-course
Can I Get Financial Assistance?
Many of the certification examination preparation courses provide college credit or continuing education units, thereby making them eligible for reimbursement under company tuition reimbursement or professional development reimbursement programs. If your employer offers educational benefits, make certain to determine whether or not the program will cover the cost or your preparation course.
In addition, SHRM offers scholarship opportunities for members pursuing professional education. For moreinformation on applying for a SHRM scholarship, please click here.
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