More About HR Certification Exams

In case you’re new, I love talking about the HR certification exams. Like it? Great. Don’t? Well, there will be other topics coming along shortly, so stick around. And if you’re preparing to take the exam, then I recommend you check out the Rock the PHR guide!

In an old article I wrote about my process of taking the PHR exam, I included a graph that showed the pass rates for the PHR, SPHR, and GPHR exams.  The green line stands for PHR, the red for SPHR, and the blue for the relatively new GPHR exam.  It isn’t the best picture, but it should illustrate my point that as time has gone on, the pass rates have fallen much for the PHR exam.  The SPHR has fallen less, but it’s still hovering around the 50% mark.  Maybe because it’s so “easy?”

This shows a downward trend in pass rates.

This shows a downward trend in pass rates for PHR & fairly steady rates for SPHR.

In response to the post yesterday, Kerry of the (fantastic) Clue Wagon blog said:

Honestly, I don\’t get why we\’re still having this debate over certification. I\’ve been listening to this since the Clinton administration, and it doesn\’t seem to progress.

If you think certification is useless, don\’t get certified, and don\’t factor it into your HR hires. If you think it\’s useful, pass the test and hire people who have passed as well. There\’s room for everyone. We don\’t all have to agree on this.

As I\’ve said elsewhere, my number one beef about HR is the navel gazing. I don\’t want to talk about tests. I want to talk about how to help companies succeed (especially now). We do a real disservice to people who are new to HR by encouraging them to focus on “the profession” instead of “the work.”

HR people spend a crazy amount of time talking about the innards of HR. How about we shut up and go help run our companies?

That is a great point.  Just because someone doesn’t think the process is useful doesn’t mean we all have to hear about it.  A friend told me yesterday in reference to the original debate, “Either give a solution or shut up. Stop whining.” I agree wholeheartedly.

4 thoughts on “More About HR Certification Exams

  1. Kerry

    If you keep quoting me, I’m going to get a swelled head. Before you know it, I’ll write a book, like those chicks on The Real Housewives of New York. It’s all downhill from there.

    I’m actually debating (still) whether to renew my SPHR, which expires next month.

  2. Ben Eubanks

    But the difference is that your book would be interesting! :-)

    Hmmm… The “Should I renew?” question would make an interesting topic, too! Maybe if you stopped saying interesting things I’d stop writing about them. :-D

  3. Kerry

    My debate over whether to renew is more financial than anything. I stopped working in July, and before that I had an extremely difficult pregnancy with a six-month unpaid maternity leave. As a result, I didn’t do a whole lot of HR classes, and I’m not rolling in dough. I’m also not sure whether I’ll ever return to HR or not. So my debate is probably not all that interesting to anyone else…no Big Questions or anything like that.

  4. ndslotnick

    Just my two cents Kerry, unless it is extremely difficult to find come up with the recert credits in time, do it. It is way less expensive and less stressful than retesting again later. Then you have it if you want it, for whatever HR or HR related pursuits you may choose. There are a number of free and low cost ways to earn credit, and you may have more than you think since it doesn’t have to be continuing education. (First time work experience comes to mind, as many free webcasts as allowed for recert. off the SHRM website, etc.)

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