What Is a PHR Certification?

If you have chosen the field of Human Resources for your life work, you should consider working toward the coveted designation, Professional in Human Resources (PHR), to expand your knowledge of the industry and thereby advance your career as a professional. Offered by the Human Resources Institute, the PHR requires that you complete a course of study that culminates with a written examination. Upon fulfillment of the requirements, a person receiving a PHR can add that credential to his name in recognition of being a Professional in Human Resources.


The Human Resource Certification Institute (HRCI) began certifying human resources professional in 1976, but the process had already been under way for three years following the vote of the board of the American Society for Personnel Management to approve the accreditation process for HR managers. Years before the creation of the certifying process, industry leaders began setting out a professional code of ethics and standards to measure the technical competence of HR professionals.

Time Frame

To sit for the PHR written examination, you must have at least two years' experience in the Human Relations field where more than half of your daily activities are HR-related. Tests are offered two times per year at almost 300 sites in the U.S. and Canada, and candidates have up to four hours to complete the examination.


When the HRCI first designed the certification process, the HR field had to deal with few of the complex issues that face professionals today. For that reason, the HRCI has incorporated all of the following areas into its examinations: HR development, compensation and benefits, health and safety issues, labor relations and hiring and firing processes as strategic planning.


To maintain the designation PHR, a person must be recertified by accumulating 60 hours of study during a three-year recertification cycle. Such recertification need not be costly or inconvenient because you can earn credits, for the most part, through daily activities and by involvement with professional activities in your area. For example, you can earn credit for recertification by becoming an officer of a professional trade organization or by chairing one of its committees. You can also earn recertification credits by attending seminars relevant to the industry via podcast or other computer-based transmission.


As the issues involving HR professionals become more complex, so have the qualifications of those who are dealing with them. It is incumbent on anyone entering the HR field, assuming an interest in career advancement, to become a certified Human Resources Professional as soon as practical.