While scrolling through human resource management job postings you may have noticed many of them list “PHR/SPHR certification required” in the job requirements.
Are these certifications worth your time and resources to acquire?
According to a survey by Payscale.com, HR-certified professionals typically make more than their non-certified counterparts. This pay difference is less noticeable in lower level positions but becomes more apparent as you work your way up into HR management. In addition, a candidate with HR certifications is more likely to be hired than a candidate without them.
Here’s a breakdown of the top seven human resource management certifications administered by the HR Certification Institute and the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM). Although previously partners, these two organizations now offer independent certification programs.
1. PHR®: Professional in Human Resources
Focus: This certification focuses on program implementation, tactics, and logistical 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.
Potential career moves: PHR certification can open up new career opportunities, including benefits administrator, payroll manager, or HR coordinator.
Certification: Certification requires a passing grade on a computer-based test (175 multiple-choice questions). The test takes approximately 3 hours and is valid for 3 years if passed. Recertification requires either documented professional development hours or a re-take of the exam. View eligibility requirements.
2. SPHR®: Senior Professional in Human Resources
Focus: This credential is for senior HR managers who have mastered 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.
Potential career moves: Potential positions with an SPHR certification may include HR director, HR consultant, or labor relations manager.
Certification: Completion of a 175-question, multiple-choice exam is required for initial certification. Recertification requires demonstration of ongoing professional development hours or re-taking the SPHR exam. View eligibility requirements.
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3. SHRM-CP: SHRM Certified Professional
Focus: This certification is for HR professionals who implement policies and strategies, serve as a 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.
Potential career moves: Individuals with this certification bring best practices and enhanced global perspective to an organization. Job opportunities may include senior HR consultant, HR director, or HR manager.
Certification: The SHRM-CP exam includes 130 questions, which are a combination of knowledge and situational judgment questions. SHRM membership is not required for certification. View eligibility requirements.
“A few months back SHRM offered me the opportunity to take the SHRM-CP exam. I was a bit hesitant because I just started the prep class and wasn’t sure how I would do. This past Monday I took the test and passed!”
-Capella University student De’Borah C.
4. SHRM-SCP: SHRM Senior Certified Professional
Focus: This certification focuses on developing strategies and leadership in HR. 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.
Potential career moves: Individuals with this certification fill job roles including vice president of HR, manager of talent acquisition, HR manager, or HR director.
Certification: The SHRM-SCP exam includes 150 scored questions, both knowledge-based and situational judgment-based. SHRM membership is not required for certification. View eligibility requirements.
5. SPHRi®: Senior Professional in Human Resources — International
Focus: This global certification is designed to validate professional-level core HR knowledge and skills. Receiving this certification proves that an individual has mastered generally accepted HR principles in strategy, policy development, and service delivery.
Potential career moves: Through demonstrated knowledge, this certification enhances the credibility of HR professionals and the organizations they serve, allowing opportunities to move into positions such as HR specialist, HR generalist, or HR global manager.
Certification: Certification is completed through computer-based testing (105 scored questions). The test takes approximately 2.5 hours and is valid for 3 years if passed. Recertification requires either documented professional development hours or a re-take of the exam. View eligibility requirements.
6. PRHi®: Professional in Human Resources — International
Focus: Similar to the SPHRi, this certification is also a global, competency-based certification that validates professional-level core HR knowledge and skills. Unlike the SPHRi, however, this certification is more focused on operational principles and demonstrates that individuals with this certification have mastered generally accepted technical and operational HR principles.
Potential career moves: PHRi certification career opportunities may include HR business partner, HR supervisor, or performance and talent analyst.
Certification: Learners completing certification are required to pass a 170-question computer-based test. The test is roughly 3 hours and is valid for 3 years. Recertification is available by retaking the exam or demonstrating a minimum of 60 hours of professional development. View eligibility requirements.
7. GPHR®: Global Professional in Human Resources
Focus: This certification is focused on global HR initiatives. Learners explore cross-border HR responsibilities such as strategies of globalization, development of HR policies, and initiatives that support global organizational growth.
Potential career moves: Career opportunities for individuals with GPHR certifications may include director of global talent acquisition, director of global HR, or global HR advisor.
Certification Eligibility: Initial certification requires passing a 165 multiple-choice question computer-based test (valid for 3 years), which takes approximately 3 hours. Recertification is available by demonstrating a minimum of 60 recertification hours (15 must be in global HR) or a retake of the initial exam. View eligibility requirements.
Acquiring HR certifications gives you the opportunity to demonstrate competence, experience, credibility, and dedication to the industry.
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 PHR and SPHR exams.
If you’re already certified, the knowledge you gained can help you earn college credit toward the Master’s in Human Resources or MBA in Human Resources Management, saving you time and up to $12,000.