While scrolling through human resource management job postings, you may have noticed many of them list “PHR/SPHR certification” in the job requirements. Are these certifications worth your time and resources to acquire?
Although certification is voluntary, it can show professional expertise and credibility, and it may enhance advancement opportunities.
PHR®: Professional in Human Resources
Focus: This certification focuses on program implementation, tactics, and operational orientation as well as U.S. laws and regulations related to HR practices. HR professionals who receive this credential are typically accountable to another HR professional within the organization (such as the director of human resources) and have responsibilities focusing on the HR department rather than the organization as a whole.
Certification: Certification requires a passing grade on a computer-based test (175 multiple-choice questions). The test takes approximately three hours and is valid for three years if passed. Recertification requires either documented professional development hours or an exam retake. View eligibility requirements.
SPHR®: Senior Professional in Human Resources
Focus: This credential is for senior HR managers who have mastered the strategic and policy-making aspects of HR. The focus is on big-picture planning and is geared toward those who have ultimate accountability in the HR department.
Certification: Completion of a 175-question, multiple-choice exam is required for initial certification. Recertification requires demonstration of ongoing professional development hours or retaking the SPHR exam. View eligibility requirements.
SHRM®-CP: SHRM Certified Professional
Focus: This certification is for HR professionals who implement policies and strategies, serve as point of reference for employees and stakeholders, deliver HR services, and perform operational HR functions.
It is similar to the HR Certification Institute’s PHR: Professional in Human Resources certification. The certification examines topics such as leadership and navigation, ethical practice, business acumen, relationship management, consultation, critical evaluation, global and cultural effectiveness, and communication.
Certification: The SHRM-CP exam includes 130 questions, which are a combination of knowledge and situational judgment questions. SHRM membership is not required for certifications. View eligibility requirements.
SHRM-SCP: SHRM Senior Certified Professional
Focus: This certification focuses on developing strategies and leadership in HR and is recommended for senior HR professionals. Topics explored include analysis, performance metrics, and developing ongoing organizational goals. It is similar to the HR Certification Institute’s SPHR: Senior Professional in Human Resources certification.
Certification: The SHRM-SCP exam includes 150 scored questions, both knowledge-based and situational judgment-based. SHRM membership is not required for certifications. View eligibility requirements.
aPHR™: Associate Professional in Human Resources
Focus: The aPHR is a global certification designed particularly for professionals just beginning their careers in human resources and is the first certification to do so. It focuses on helping learners understand both the tactical and operational tasks that are related to human resources and workforce management.
Certification: Completion of the certification involves passing a computerized exam consisting of 100 multiple-choice questions and 25 pretest questions. The test time is just over two hours. Upon completion, certification is valid for three years after testing and can be maintained by demonstrating a minimum of 45 recertification credits or by retaking the exam. View eligibility requirements.
Acquiring HR certifications gives you the opportunity to demonstrate competence, experience, credibility, and dedication to the industry.
Prepare for Certification: If you’d like to get certified, Capella University offers two elective courses in the Master’s in Human Resources program to prepare you to take the SHRM®-CP and SHRM®-SCP exams or the aPHR, PHR, and SPHR exams.
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