Tag Archives: Certification

HRCI Changes Requirements for PHR, SPHR Recertification Starting 2021

Every so often HRCI, the Human Resources Certification Institute, changes the requirements for its exams. For instance, in 2018 the exam body of knowledge changed the most it had since I got my PHR back in 2009.

I have written extensively about how the recertification process works (and how it doesn’t), which exams are a better fit for you, and more. We also have inexpensive courses designed to supplement the dry and often boring textbooks out there if you are planning to get your PHR or SPHR.

In the summer of 2020, the exam recertification process saw a new change for those with an aPHR, PHR, SPHR, GPHR, California, or International certifications as the chart below demonstrates.

HR Ethics Credit Hour Requirements

New HR Certification Ethics Requirement

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hr certification courses

Announcement: New HR Certification Materials are Live!

I had a powerful moment last week. I went back and checked some of the statistics on the website for how people find the blog, and there have been tens of thousands of HR pros that found upstartHR via Google because they were looking for help with HR certification content. That truly blew me away!

It’s that kind of support that has encouraged me to work on developing critical study materials that fill the gaps in the HR certification industry. I made a quiet announcement last week to all of our customers so far this year, but today I’m announcing publicly that our new revised courses for PHR and SPHR certification prep are both available.

(read on for how to get a limited time 20% discount on the course you need!)

hr certification courses

Why a new course? What was wrong with the old one?

The changes in this year’s HRCI body of knowledge prompted me and the team to make changes to the content, and I’d already been thinking for some time that I wanted to move away from the old format to a more comprehensive study platform. I have partnered with Thinkific, an online learning system, to transition the PHR and SPHR courses to a new format that helps learners wherever they may be.

Additionally, during the transition I not only was able to weave in some additional content from video, audio, and external sources, but I was also able to pull together hundreds of practice questions to assist with study preparation. Now students that use the course are not only getting the industry’s only study materials that offer a practical perspective—they also get a wide variety of practice questions to help them test those concepts they’re learning.

Is this the end goal?

Not by a long shot. The course has always been designed to be used alongside another study tool. HRCP has been a great partner in that regard, but I also recommend the Reed books on Amazon for anyone that needs something more budget-friendly (even if it’s for an older version of the test, 99% of the principles are still the same!).

However, those resources are highly academic in their approach, and the number one reason people fail the HR certification exams is because they lack the practical insights around application. In other words: you learn the theories, but you fall down when it comes to talking about how they really work in practice.

The content in the upstartHR course is very practical and written from an “in the trenches” perspective, which means students aren’t just memorizing terms with no idea of how they function in the real world. It’s my plan to continue fleshing out the course until it is able to stand on its own, though this is a long-term plan. Additionally, I will be incorporating new resources, research, and information into the course on an ongoing basis to ensure students are always receiving the latest and greatest information.

What about the SHRM exams?

These tools have been used successfully by dozens of students in the last year. I was hesitant to make this claim without some evidence to back it up, because the course was designed for the HRCI exams. However, there aren’t two wildly different ways to practice HR, there’s one right way. The feedback from SHRM-CP and SHRM-SCP students has been very positive and I’m proud to say that it can help those studying for the SHRM exams with key concepts and practical insights and case studies.

A note about the popular audio course

A final note: the audio course was developed as a tool to help solve a variety of problems (students wanted to listen to materials, study on their commute, etc.), but I’ve heard from some students that the content navigation and user interface is not as easy as they would prefer. I’m working on a solution to this, but, as with the course, it isn’t a quick fix. Some of the audio content is being merged into the PHR and SPHR courses and some will stand alone, but I am working on this to create a better experience for students.

Celebrate with a discount!

Bottom line: this is an exciting time for me and the team. To celebrate, for a limited time I am offering a 20% discount on the new courses if you are preparing for the PHR or SPHR. Use discount code “20launch” at checkout. This code is good until Halloween (October 31st, 2018) so don’t miss your chance! Access to the course does not expire so you can take the exam this winter or any time next year if you’re already thinking about it.

As always, if you have questions feel free to reach out to me in the comments below or via email. It’s an honor to serve the HR community and I look forward to another great year of success with my students!

hr certification career options

2018 HRCI Certification Changes: What You Need to Know

If you haven’t heard, HRCI recently came out with some major changes to their learning content structure–the biggest I’ve seen in the last ten years. Below I outline what you need to know, how to prepare, and a major announcement from me about what we’re doing to help you prepare.

Before I jump into the changes, one of the most common questions I’m getting is whether our certification materials help with this NEW exam. I cover this more deeply below, but my most common answer is this: there aren’t fundamentally different ways to practice good HR. There’s pretty much one way. And changing exam weightings, names, or even throwing in a competing certification (SHRM) doesn’t change that, despite the fact that each certifying body tries to make themselves sound unique and different. Our courses and training materials are designed to help HR professionals get their arms around the needs of the business and how HR can align with them, whether in recruiting, learning, performance, or something else.

That said, we ARE making changes to what we offer, and again, I cover that in more detail at the end of this post.

HRCI Changes: The Big Picture

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battle hr recertification credits

The Hidden Battle for SHRM and HRCI Recertification Credits

Today I’m going to talk openly and honestly about SHRM, HRCI, and things that matter to today’s HR professionals. I have my SHRM-SCP and my SPHR, and I expect to keep them both for the foreseeable future. I think both have merit as of today (February 2018). But maybe that is going to change…

Newsflash: if you get certified as an HR professional, you need recertification (or “recert”) credits to keep your certification (unless you want to take the test again every three years!) As a chapter leader AND a speaker, I see the other side of the equation that most HR practitioners do not. I have to submit my content for credits, and I also have to work with my chapter to submit our content as well to get the appropriate credits.

battle hr recertification creditsOver the years, HRCI has become increasingly stubborn and challenging about awarding SPHR-required business credits for sessions. After several failed attempts in 2016 to get credits awarded for our chapter (for sessions like “building a strategic hiring plan for your organization” and “evaluating the ROI of training initiatives,” we actually ran into an even BIGGER problem. We received business credits, promoted it with business credits to our members, and then HRCI changed their mind after the session was over and our attendees were stuck with general credits, despite paying an extra fee for a business-credit session. Madness, right?

I finally came away with this conclusion: if you want to get business credits, you have to attend a session that has 0% HR content. Take a marketing class. Go to a statistics program. Just don’t do anything that mentions HR in the title or the session abstract and you’re fine. Continue reading

phr shrm-cp hr certification

Which HR Certification is Better? An Analysis of the SHRM-CP and PHR

Last week I received an interesting question that echoed what I’ve seen from dozens of people around the new year:

I came across this discussion while trying to formulate an argument supporting the value and credibility of the SHRM-CP credential.

I have years years of HR experience and about five years ago, I started looking at HRCI and the PHR certification. Eventually, I hit the experience AND degree requirements to take the PHR, but decided to go with the certification offered by SHRM, thinking that a credential offered directly by the society would hold equal if not more weight.

My immediate supervisor is PHR credentialed. When I announced that I had earned my SHRM-CP credential, the response was underwhelming and I was left with the impression that they are not convinced that it is on par with the PHR credential.

We are in the process of updating a Professional Development policy for our company and I’d really like to be able to present an argument for recognizing the SHRM-CP as equivalent to the PHR. I’ve done a bit of looking online, but have yet to see anything that clearly compares the two credentials.

Over the last few years, the piece I wrote about the PHR vs the SHRM-CP certifications has been seen hundreds of thousands of times. I’ve had dozens of comments and questions from people, and over time my thoughts have changed a bit and have become more clear. Plus, some of the actions of the certifying bodies themselves are changing how I view the world. First, let’s address the question at hand.

If you are curious about the SPHR and the SHRM-SCP as a senior HR professional, check out this piece that examines the differences in the exams and which you should take

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Will an HR Certification Make Me More Valuable for a Senior HR Role? [Reader Question]

hr certification career optionsHR certification questions are often seen as pretty binary: either I get one or I don’t. But in reality there’s a lot of nuance to the decision. Should I get an HR degree or an HR certification? Will this help my career? Can it make me more competitive? How much money can I make?

That’s because certification is tied in with our personal lives in that it supports us financially, if we do it right.

For the sake of the author I’m not sharing the person’s real name. 

Hi, Ben!

I am an HR Generalist in a school district. We only have two HR staff here. The rumor is that there may be an opening for an HR Director. I would love a shot at the job. The issue is that my co-worker has been at the district for a long time and I have only been there about two years even though I have nearly 10 years of HR experience.

I feel taking the PHR exam would possibly give me a shot at the Director’s job. What are your thoughts?


My Response to Nancy

Two questions wrapped into one!

First the easy one: if you want to pursue the PHR then go for it. There’s nothing that forces you to tell everyone at work that you’re pursuing the exam on the off chance you don’t pass, and you could have it as soon as March/April if you decide to jump in with both feet. No time like the present, right? If you’re worried about preparing then I’d highly recommend the courses that we’ve put together simply because they help in ways that no other system does. If you have the budget, the HRCP materials even offer a “pass or money back” guarantee, which is hard to beat.

Secondly, let’s look at the career front. While this is still a rumor you should start thinking critically about what makes you a fit for the role.

  • Can you demonstrate your leadership skills now, before the job even exists?
  • How can you start positioning yourself as the kind of person that would be a fit for the job in the eyes of those around you?
  • What other hard or soft skills do you need to pick up in order to be competitive for the role?

Thinking this through helps because when it comes open, even if it’s a publicly posted opening, you have an edge because some of the local leadership should see you as a strategic player, not just another administrative paper pusher.

Let me know if that helps or if I can offer anything more to support you! I think it’s a good question not only because it’s making you think about certification, but because it’s making you think about yourself in terms of how qualified/ready you might be for a leadership role. This book I reviewed previously might be helpful in guiding you towards ways to be influential as a leader even before you get the “title” to go along with it.

Anyone else have comments or suggestions for Nancy?

If you have your own question you’d like featured here, feel free to shoot it to me at ben@upstarthr.com for consideration. 

money pay gap

How Much Money Can You Earn With an HR Certification? [Free Calculator]

money hr certification examHow much does an HR certification impact your salary? While it matters differently at every organization and for each person, let’s answer that question with some data.

Using data from Payscale.com we (hat tip to my youngest brother Barrett for his Excel wizardry) hacked together a calculator that shows you the median pay for job titles in HR as well as the adjusted rates based on whether the person has a PHR or SPHR certification (at the time of this data gathering there was no data on SHRM certifications, but assume similar levels of competency for PHR and SHRM-CP and SPHR and SHRM-SCP).

Additionally, we threw in a 10-year impact to show you the potential for what a certification could mean to your earnings over time. Again, this is a linear projection and does not take into account all the variables that could happen in your career, but it’s a good starting point when considering whether you’re going to prepare for the HR certification exams.

A few notes and caveats:  Continue reading