HR Certification Institute Will Tighten Exam Eligibility

By Beth Mirza Jan 2, 2009

Beginning in 2011, HR professionals who want to sit for one of the HR Certification Institute’s exams will face stricter eligibility requirements.

After conducting focus groups and surveys of more than 14,000 certified and non-certified HR professionals, business leaders, students and academicians, the HR Certification Institute will require applicants to have a combination of education and demonstrated exempt-level HR experience to sit for exams. Prior to the May-June 2011 testing window, applicants need to have only two years of exempt-level HR experience.

Best practices in the certification industry suggest that exam eligibility requirements should be reviewed periodically, say HR Certification Institute leaders. “The eligibility requirement changes that are being made will ensure alignment with the needs of HR professionals worldwide,” said Cornelia Springer, CAE, operations director of the HR Certification Institute. “Elevating the requirements elevates the value of the credentials.”

The changes affect the Professional in Human Resources (PHR), the Senior Professional in Human Resources (SPHR) and the Global Professional in Human Resources (GPHR) credentials. To sit for the SPHR exam, for example, candidates must have seven years of exempt-level HR experience with less than a bachelor’s degree, five years of exempt-level HR experience with a bachelor’s degree, or four years of exempt-level HR experience with a master’s degree or higher.

Students will no longer be eligible to sit for the exams unless they have the required level of experience. They must meet the same requirements as non-students and have the requisite years of demonstrated experience required for their level of education.

Some currently certified HR professionals might not qualify to sit for the exam in 2011 in order to recertify, and they are encouraged to recertify through continuing education credits, Springer said. To recertify by exam after the eligibility requirements change, certificants must meet the new requirements. See and click “New Eligibility Requirements for 2011” for more information.

Beth Mirza is senior editor for HR News.

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