PHR Certification Requirements

Chagin/iStock/Getty Images

If you're working in the human resource field, it's a good idea to consider earning your PHR certification. Becoming certified is a great way to demonstrate to your current employer, as well as to prospective future employers, that you have the knowledge, experience, and expertise necessary to perform the essential functions of a professional human resources management position.


The Professional in Human Resources (PHR) credential is offered by the Human Resources Certification Institute (HRCI). The PHR credential is the most basic level of professional HR certification. Individuals who wish to seek advanced human resources certification may wish to sit for the Senior Professional in Human Resources (SPHR) exam. Those with multinational experience may also want to earn recognition as a Global Practitioner of Human Resources (GPHR). HRCI credentials are recognized as the industry standard in HR certification.To be eligible for PHR certification, individuals must have a minimum of two years of exempt level experience in the field of human resource management.


The PHR exam is a comprehensive exam covering the full scope of human resource practice. The test material comes from six specific content areas as defined by the HRCI body of knowledge. These six areas include: strategic management, workforce planning and employment, HR development, total rewards, employee and labor relations, and risk management.Those who wish to take the PHR exam are well served by completing a certification preparation course that utilizes the SHRM Learning System to teach the material. Local Society for Human Resource Management chapters often offer study groups for their members, and a number of colleges and universities offer formal preparation classes. These classes typically meet for approximately thirty hours over a period of several weeks.

Time Frame

The PHR exam is administered during two testing windows each year. Winter testing is available every year from December 1st through January 31st. The annual spring testing period is May 1st through June 30th. The deadline for exam registration is weeks prior to the beginning of the testing window.

Expert Insight

Many employers require their human resources department employees to earn PHR certification to move beyond an entry level position. Some companies won't even consider hiring people to work in their HR department who have not already earned this important credential.

Certification Isn't Easy

Don't take the process of earning PHR certification lightly. Even those who have many years of experience in the field need to be prepared for a very difficult test experience. Before registering to take this exam, be sure you can devote sufficient time to preparing for the test.