Professional in Human Resources

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Professional in Human Resources (PHR) human resource management profession. The certification, awarded by the Human Resource Certification Institute (HRCI), signifies that individuals possess the theoretical knowledge and practical experience in human resource management necessary to pass an examination demonstrating a mastery of the body of knowledge in the field. The Senior Professional in Human Resources (SPHR) is the senior-most human resources certification for those who have also demonstrated a strategic mastery of the HR body of knowledge.[1]


To be eligible to sit for the PHR exam, you must have:[2]

  • A minimum of 1 years of experience in an exempt-level (professional) HR position with a Master's degree or higher, OR
  • A minimum of 2 years of experience in an exempt-level (professional) HR position with a Bachelor's degree, OR
  • A minimum of 4 years of experience in an exempt-level (professional) HR position with a high school diploma

In addition the ideal candidate for this certification is an individual 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.
  • 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.


The exams are administered at computer-based testing centers throughout the world. The exams are offered two times per year: December 1 through January 31, and May 1 through June 30.

The exam is knowledge- and experience-based. Candidates are given three hours to answer 175 multiple-choice questions.[3] The test specifications are based on the PHR/SPHR Body of Knowledge, which is composed of six functional areas.[4]


The HR Certification Institute does not endorse any one way to prepare or study for the PHR exam. There are several organizations that offer study materials and prep courses to assist individuals in their study efforts.

Organizations that offers certification preparation are the Society for Human Resources Management,[5] many universities such as Utah State University,[6] and organizations of the like.


Recertification is the cornerstone of any reputable certification program. 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 or recertification. To maintain the PHR credential, those passing the PHR exam must recertify every three years (60 hours of credit) through continuing education activities. Recertifying a certificant's designation demonstrates a commitment to stay abreast of changes taking place in the human resource management field.

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