SPHR Certification


The Human Resources Certification Institute was founded in the late 1970s as a nonprofit organization for the credentialing of professionals in personnel and human resource departments. As of April 2011, the HRCI had certified more than 103,000 people around the world. Among the certifications available from the HRCI is the senior professional in human resources (SPHR) designation.


To qualify for the SPHR certification from HRCI, you must meet a combination of education and experience requirement. With a master's degree or higher, you must have four years of work experience in human resources. Those who hold a four-year bachelor's degree need five years of work experience in the field. With less than a bachelor's degree, you are required to have seven years of work experience as a human resources professional.


To begin the SPHR certification process, you have to complete an online application at the HRCI website. The application requests your personal contact information and detailed employment and educational histories. In addition, you must answer questions about any criminal convictions from their pasts. Those with a history of felony or misdemeanor convictions may be ineligible for certification. Along with the application, you pay a fee. For members of the Society for Human Resource Management, the fee was $375 as of April 2011. All other applicants paid a $425 fee.


After reviewing your application materials and finding you eligibile, the HRCI sends you an invitation to register for the mandatory credentialing examination. This test consists of 220 multiple-choice questions and is taken using a computer at HRCI-approved centers across the country. You have up to four hours to complete all of the items on the test. Content featured on the exam includes strategic management, workforce planning and development, human resources development, reward systems, labor relations and risk management.

PHR certification

Candidates who do not meet the eligibility criteria for SPHR certification may pursue professional in human resources (PHR) certification from the HRCI. For this credential, one year of work experience is necessary with a graduate-level degree. With a bachelor's degree, you need two years of work experience, and without a baccalaureate degree the experience requirement is four years. Like the SPHR credential, PHR certification involves completing an application and passing a multiple-choice examination.

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