Definition of PHR Certification


PHR stands for Professional in Human Resources, a designation earned by people working in HR after spending a period of time in that field and taking an examination that is based on specified course materials. A PHR is awarded by the Human Resource Certification Institute, the organization that has established a standard of excellence in the field of human relations.


Over 30 years ago, the Human Resource Certification Institute (HRCI) set the standards for certifying professionals in human resources. Years before that, its predecessor organization, the American Society for Personnel Management, laid the groundwork for a formalized certification process after many years of codifying a professional code of ethics and establishing a standard of competence required by HR professionals.

Time Frame

Although HRCI suggests that a person have at least 4 to 5 years of meaningful experience in human resources, the requirements state that a person must have at least 2 years experience in human resources having HR responsibilities making up more than half of his time. The examinations are offered in almost 300 sites in the U.S. and in Canada and can be taken twice each year. Candidates should plan on taking the full 4 hours to complete the examination.


The human resource functions have become much more complex since the HRCI first set out the certification process. To cover its bases, the HRCI requires that the following areas be covered by the materials and the examination: HR development, compensation and benefits, health and safety issues, labor relations, hiring and firing processes and strategic planning.


To be considered for periodic recertification, you must do at least 60 hours of advanced study during the 3-year recertification cycle. Many of the requirements can be met by illustrating your duties on the job as well as becoming active in trade organizations in the human resources field. For example, you can become an officer or a committee chairman to earn credits toward your recertification efforts. Also, you can participate in "webinars" and other computer-based activities.


Human resources management has come to the forefront of business activities today, causing career-minded people in that field to continue their education. There is no better way to demonstrate your interest in advancement than to receive and periodically recertify your designation as a Professional in Human Resources.

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