HRCP-HR Certification Preparation

I have been talking about and sharing resources to help people with the HR certification exams for over a year now, and in that time I have officially promoted one specific tool to those looking for a fully-loaded study resource–HRCP. Recently I saw that they were updating their website and making some changes to their offerings to help people pass the PHR and SPHR exams. I reached out to them for some specifics that I will share below. Be sure to read to the end so you can find out how to win something special from HRCP!

Free/Neat Stuff

You can take advantage of several of the free tools they provide. With the high cost of certification in general, we all like a little free, right? :-) (FYI: if you want a discount on the HRCP materials, see this page for more info.)

  • Create a free account, take the free practice exam, Customers who have purchased the HRCP Program will have access to twice as many practice questions in the new Online Testing System!
  • Thinking about studying without the aid of a group? Check out the self study guide (PDF)
  • Not sure if you need a lot of time to study? Check out the study schedules they have put together for different test preparation styles.
  • They have a group on LinkedIn so you can share ideas and find others who are studying as well.
  • In case you’re wondering, their 2011 materials are already updated and shipping (that was fast!).
  • The newly upgraded testing system provides twice as many practice questions as part of the HRCP Program, totaling 800 questions (for the same price!).

Contest Info

Okay! So, HRCP is going to give away a free 100 question practice exam and I’m working with them to make this a recurring contest. For today, though, I have one of those exams to give away to someone. Interested?

Here’s how to enter: Simply leave a comment below telling how you plan to use your certification once you achieve it. Want a promotion? Think you can leverage it to get a new job? Maybe you’re just looking to gloat over your annoying coworkers? Let’s hear your reason for taking the PHR/SPHR exam.


  • Three sentence minimum, so be descriptive!
  • Contest ends 2/16 at midnight so get to work!
  • The winner will be randomly chosen from eligible entries using

What does HR certification cost?

The cost of HR certification isn’t great, but the value is what you make of it. The letters behind your name can be just one more thing for you to have to keep track of, or they can be a leverage point for finding a better job, getting a promotion, or growing in your current position.

I shot this video a while back as a special bonus for people who sign up for the free PHR/SPHR email newsletter, and I wanted to share it with you guys. Lots of SHRM chapters (ours included) have certification prep classes on their Spring calendars. My friend Bobbi is the one running the program for NASHRM, and it’s going to be pretty awesome. Wondering how getting certified can impact your career? Check out the video below.

Email subscribers will have to click through to view the video.

PHR Study Materials (cheap and free)

show me the moneyBecause of my involvement in the HR certification scene, I get asked often about PHR study materials. More often than not I recommend HRCP for people with a little money to spend, but the message below prompted a thought.

Hi! I am signed up for the PHR and looking for study materials. Since I’m in transition, my budget is super tight so I’d love to get something for less than retail prices. Thank you! Amy in Orlando

If I had to start all over again and study with the limited budget I have, what would I use to prepare?

Studying on the cheap

First of all, I’d look through the various resources for the PHR and SPHR exams I’ve gathered over the past 24 months. There are some great tools in there that are totally free and would be a good place to find some help. But you’ll only get so far with free stuff. In truth, I’d probably just use the same resources to study as I did for the PHR exam last year.

  1. Two pack of HRCI practice exams $70
  2. Anne Bogardus PHR/SPHR book ~$40
  3. Any other practice exams available

The bare essentials

I know there are a lot of people in transition right now and some of them are looking at certification as a way to help increase their marketability as a candidate. The bare essentials: Anne Bogardus book and the PHR/SPHR Self Study Course. You’ll get enough content in those two resources to successfully pass the exam.

How to get your employer to pay for it

If you are working and don’t want to pay out of pocket, here are some ideas on how to make that happen. I recently shot this video for the subscribers to the free SPHR/PHR email newsletter. It might give you some thoughts on how to reduce your cost and maybe even get your employer to pick up the tab!

Email subscribers may need to click through to view the video.

SPHR Questions

Exam Brain ExplosionI love helping people with their questions. Recently I received one about the SPHR that I wanted to share, because I thought some of the responses might help the larger audience out there.

Which countries is the SPHR valid for?

The SPHR designation is granted by a US-based organization (HRCI), but it’s recognized in many countries. I’ve had people from Bermuda, Egypt, and Brazil email me before telling me about how they were attempting to pass the SPHR exam. It’s going to be country-specific as to how much people value the certification, and the GPHR might be a better option if you’re doing global work, but hopefully you already know whether or not the people around you will appreciate (and compensate!) you for your certification. The HRCI website says that there are over 100,000 professionals certified in over 70 countries.

When does it expire?

The SPHR is good for three years. During that time, most people take classes, go to seminars, and use work-related experience to gather credits for recertification. You can also retake the exam to recertify, but most people prefer not to.

Is there any annual fee afterwards and if yes, how much is it?

The recertification fee is $100 every three years, but the big investment is the ongoing training. I’ve spent more than $100 on local seminars and events this year alone. However, there are great free events to help you get credits, too.

What are the benefits of SPHR compared to Master’s Degree in Management and development of HR?

The biggest benefit is that it’s cheaper and faster than a Master’s degree. Here’s a post I wrote on the SPHR vs the MBA.

How many people are certified under SPHR so far?

As of August 2010, there are just over 46,000 SPHR certified individuals across the globe.

When has this certification begun?

HRCI has been certifying people for 33 years now.

Do you need to finish PHR first to have the right to go to SPHR, or they are independent?

They are independent, so you can go straight for the one that fits your needs.

Of course, this is all my random knowledge, so feel free to check out the HRCI site to see if they have additional information. Oh, and don’t forget that HRCI is changing their requirements in 2011!

By the way, if you’re looking for a PHR study guide, feel free to check this one out. :-)

Should I get an MBA or an SPHR (or PHR)?

One of the big questions I see people asking these days is about graduate studies. People want to know if it’s worth it to get an MBA and if it will help them in their field. I’ve talked before about advanced HR degrees (and the follies of chasing one before you have experience in the field), but the twist is adding certification into the mix. Is it worth it to get your MBA, or would it be acceptable to get your SPHR certification? I know I’m a big proponent of getting certified, but then again it might be better to run the college gauntlet again for the benefits it can provide…

Want a $20 discount on PHR/SPHR study materials? Get it here.

Is there a right answer?

I talk about how both of them could be viable options in the video below. Check it out and let me know your thoughts.

(Subscribers may have to click through to view the embedded video.)

Are you looking for an edge in your HR career? Is either of these options (certification or college) a good choice for you?

How to pass the GPHR exam

Today we’re rocking a guest post by Nancy Slotnick. I saw recently that she was successful in passing the GPHR exam, and I knew that she’d be a great resource to pull in for a guest post. Plus, she doesn’t have her own blog, so any chance I can get her to do some writing is a win for everyone. :-)

If you like this post feel free to subscribe or check into the GPHR study guide. It’s GPHR specific, and the testing tips are definitely helpful for the GPHR certification exam. I also have dozens of free resources listed on the PHR/SPHR/GPHR page!

Why did you decide to get your GPHR certification?

I have thought about sitting for the GPHR since taking the SPHR approximately a year before retiring from the Army.  At that time, I was already considering several different options for employment in Human Resources following retirement from the Army, including the possibility of joining the consulting business that my husband had started several years before.  I had spent my 25 year military career in Human Resources and had already decided that I wanted to stay in the profession.

My decisions to pursue my MBA with a focus in Strategic Human Resources as well as to prepare and sit for the SPHR were intended to fill perceived gaps between military HR and civilian HR practice.  At the time, I decided not to sit for the GPHR for two primary reasons.  I did not anticipate doing international work and I did not believe that I had the necessary experience.  At the time, I completely (and incorrectly) discounted the international nature of much of my military service as being applicable to the GPHR. Continue reading

HRCI-Social Media Makeover

Okay, HRCI (Human Resources Certification Institute), it’s time for a social media makeover! I alluded to this post when I was talking about everything else going on in my world recently. I am doing my best not to be mean-spirited or rude, because that doesn’t help anyone do anything better. Everything I say today should be taken with a smile. :-) (<–Like that!)

HRCI on Twitter

Near the end of last year, I realized that HRCI was on Twitter. Being a lover of HR certification, I was thrilled to see them there. I had a few back-and-forth chats with Alexis, and we shared a few tips and ideas back and forth. Fun was had by all. Although they were using their URL in every. single. tweet. I was still inclined to give ’em a break.

Flash forward to the past few weeks. They’ve been doing work on their website. How did I know that? Well, they’ve tweeted over a dozen times in a three day period about what you can do on their website. Okay, so they’re sharing. That’s something, I suppose. Continue reading