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Professional Development

     HR Certification

    What Is Certification?

    Certification is a voluntary action by a professional group to establish a system to grant recognition to professionals who have met a stated level of training and work experience. Certified individuals are usually issued a certificate attesting that they have met the standards of the credentialing organization and are entitled to make the public aware of their credentialed status, usually through the use of acronyms (i.e., PHR, SPHR or GPHR) after their names.

    Certifications differ from certificate programs because certifications, by definition, include a work experience component. Certificate programs, on the other hand, award certificates once a course of study has been completed and do not require previous work experience.

    Purpose and Use of Certification

    PHR and SPHR certification shows that the holder has accepted the challenge to stay informed of new developments in the HR field. The PHR and SPHR exams are completely voluntary. The PHR and SPHR designations are a visible reminder to peers and co-workers of the holder's significant professional achievement. PHR and SPHR certified professionals should proudly display their certificates and use the credentials on business correspondence.

    Exam Overview

    The exams are multiple-choice and consist of 200 scored questions plus 25 pretest questions randomly distributed throughout the exam (a total of 225 questions). Each question lists four possible answers, only one of which is the correct or "best possible answer." The answer to each question can be derived independently of the answer to any other question. Four hours are allotted to complete the exam. All exams are administered by computer at more than 250 Prometric testing centers. There are no paper-and-pencil exam administrations.

    Are you Ready?

    Study Groups

    The Tuscora SHRM is happy to connect individuals interested in forming study groups for upcoming exams. The 2009 testing windows for the PHR/SPHR are May 1 to June 30 and December 1 to January 31. Go to registration details. For information about forming a study group contact Machael Norris at or 330-343-6366.

    HRCI Online Assessment Exam

    HRCI offers an online assessment exam comprised of actual exam questions that have appeared on previous exams but were removed from the item bank to develop the assessment exam. Before registering for the exam, consider taking this online assessment exam. The assessment exam exposes candidates to the types of questions on the actual exam. For more information about the assessment exam (including fees), visit the HRCI web site at

    Choosing the Appropriate Exam Level

    Candidates should choose the exam level that best represents their mastery of the HR body of knowledge. HRCI has found that appropriate exempt-level HR work experience and educational background contribute significantly to success on the exams.

    With this in mind, HRCI strongly recommends that PHR candidates have two to four years of exempt-level (professional) HR work experience and SPHR candidates have six to eight years of exempt-level (professional) HR work experience.


    • 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 on the organization 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.


    • Designs and plans rather than implements.
    • 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 affect 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.

    PHR and SPHR Exam Functional Areas



    Strategic Management



    Workforce Planning and Employment



    Human Resource Development



    Compensation and Benefits



    Employee and Labor Relations



    Occupational Health, Safety and Security