Tag Archives: SPHR

HRCP-Guaranteed to Pass or your Money Back

With a background of working for numerous small companies, I am a strong supporter of those people and organizations that take a step of risk and try to fill a need in the marketplace, no matter who the competition may be. That’s how I found HRCP a few years ago, and I’ve been a big fan of theirs ever since.

For the HR pro searching for a cost effective way to pass the exam for less than half the price of the SHRM product, this is what you’ve been looking for. (Be sure to use the discount code to get a $20 discount on the HRCP study tools! Plus, read on for information on the money back guarantee!

UPSTART18P is for the Complete HRCP Program: Print Edition
UPSTART18E is for the Complete HRCP Program: Print AND Online Edition!)

I sometimes talk about the PHR and SPHR exams, because I think it’s a powerful way for people to show commitment to the HR profession. With a pass rate hovering around 50%, it’s not an exam to take lightly. With the numbers of people who are unemployed or are on the verge of it, it just doesn’t make sense for many of them to take the risk involved with attempting the exam. The great folks over at HRCP are doing something revolutionary in the HR certification space to help minimize that risk and instill confidence in PHR/SPHR test takers everywhere.

Not only does HRCP offer a great study product, they have recently started offering a money back guarantee with their learning system. If you purchase their study tools, take the practice exams they offer, and still don’t pass the exam, they will give you your money back. Wow!

This is a good time to note that the HRCP tools would be a great fit for the self study course that has helped dozens of HR pros pass the exam.

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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. :-)

PHR-SPHR Deadline and Free Practice Exam

Update 11/14: Eric has won the free PHR practice exam for giving the best comment. Good luck to everyone who commented!

Just a quick reminder to everyone out there contemplating the PHR or SPHR exam—the test window is closing on November 13th. If you miss the deadline, you will have to wait until mid-2010 to take the exam. I can tell the final registration date is closing in, because I\’ve received more than a dozen emails from people looking for support, encouragement, direction, or resources.

Everyone knows that the best PHR study guide was developed right here, but everyone might not know about the free bonus exam that goes along with it (thanks to April for helping!).

I\’ve decided to give away a free copy of the 50 question PHR practice exam.

I want to hear from people who have taken or who plan to take the exam. Why in the world did you study your tail off just to have the opportunity to add a few letters after your name? Was it for a promotion? Did you want a new job? I\’d like to know the motivations behind your attempt at the PHR or SPHR exam. There\’s a free 50 question practice exam in it for the best answer I get by November 13th! And remember, the deadline from HRCI is November 13th, so sign up if you plan to take the test.

Get the HRCP discount

If you’d like to get a $20 discount on the HRCP program, click here to get the discount code.

HRCI Changes Requirements-Part Deux

This post originated as a comment left by Matthew Stollak (or akaBruno if you know him from Twitter) on a post about the HR Certification Institute changing its PHR/SPHR/GPHR eligibility requirements. I asked him if I could reuse his comment as a post, and he had no problem, so you get to see his comments front and center. Enjoy!.

I have been a SHRM student chapter advisor for over 10 years and have taken and passed both the PHR and SPHR exams. I know a lot of other passionate and dedicated student chapter advisors who were not pleased with the recent changes in eligibility. These changes sparked vigorous discussion on the SHRM Chapter Advisor listserv, and prompted HRCI to host an impromptu conference call with advisors to address the new eligibility requirements. While I believe the changes are set in stone, I do know Nancy Woolever, Director of Academic Initiatives at SHRM (whom Ben has interviewed about SHRM’s HR education program), and Chuck Salvetti, SHRM Student Programs Manager, are looking into alternatives for students to help students distinguish themselves as they apply for HR positions.

That being said, here are my thoughts:
1. I concur that “If some “upstart” can take the exam after college and pass without any exempt level HR experience, then that doesn\’t necessarily mean that they\’re as qualified as someone who has years of HR experience before deciding to take the exam.” However, as @adowling noted, there are already restrictions in place for student who pass the exam. Students who pass the exam are NOT allowed to claim they are certified. They MUST get 2 years of exempt-level experience in five years after passing the certification exam before being allowed to use the PHR designation.

2. One concern stated by HRCI was that students had a lower passing rate than HR professionals (57.2% to 71%). First, that should be expected. However, that is still a majority able to pass the exam. Further, if, as @Lori noted, “a certification exam touts its value on an experiential level,” and a majority of a group of individuals are able to pass it without the experience, shouldn\’t the focus be on changing the exam than the eligibility requirements? Why aren\’t HRCI and its question writers being held accountable for an exam that doesn\’t reflect that experiential level instead of punishing students who may demonstrate a strong understanding of the HR knowledge base?

3. Why is exempt experience held as the end-all, be-all of eligibility? One can take the exam without ever having taking an HR course. One can even take the exam without ever taking a single college course! A siginificant number of students walk into the exam with a wealth of HR “experience”: they have taken several HR and management courses, participated significantly in their student SHRM chapter, participated in HR internships or job shadowing or mentoring, conducted HR research, competed in the HR games, and attended SHRM professional chapter meetings and state, regional or national SHRM conferences. Many of these activities count toward recertification, but are not seen as important enough to qualify for certification.

4. In a similar vein, no effort was made by HRCI/SHRM to examine the “quality” of student passing rates on the PHR exam based on academic program. Do those students who come from a program that follows the SHRM curriculum perform significantly better on the exam? If true, wouldn\’t this have been a tremendous selling point for SHRM on the quality of their academic initiatives?

5. If experience is seen as critical, many academics have taken and passed the PHR and SPHR exams, and can claim being certified, without having worked a single moment in an exempt HR position. Should a similar constraint be placed on academics?

6. If the concern is that students who pass the exam are taking jobs away from more “qualified” HR professionals who have the experience, but have not passed the exam, one has to wonder about the true signal of certification and what it represents. If certification is so critical, why do so few HR jobs require it or use it in their advertising. A 2005 study by Aguinis, H., Michaelis, S. E., & Jones, N. M. in the International Journal of Selection and Assessment analyzed each of 1873 HR job announcements available over a 1-week period on http://monster.com, http://hotjobs.yahoo.com, http://careerbuilder.com, and http://shrm.org. Results showed that only nine (i.e., .48%) job announcements stated that there was a requirement and only 70 (i.e., 3.73%) job announcements stated that there was a preference for job applicants with any type of HR certification.

Matthew teaches the next generation of HR professionals and somehow finds time to write an interesting blog called True Faith HR. Check it out.

Goodbye, HRCI Recent Graduate Exemption

This test looks interesting

This test looks interesting

I took the PHR exam this past January. It was a tough experience, but I also enjoyed knowing that it would solidify my grasp of the basic theoretic principles of HR. I didn’t yet have the requisite two years of exempt level HR experience necessary to take the exam, but I was able to take it under the “Recent Graduate” exemption that HRCI provides. From HRCI:

Students and recent graduates enrolled in a bachelor\’s or graduate degree program may take the PHR and GPHR exams at an initial registration rate of US$120. Passing students and recent graduates must pay the balance of the exam fee once they have graduated and documented two years of exempt-level (professional) HR work experience. They have five years from the date of passing the exam to obtain the two years of exempt-level (professional) HR work experience.
Student/recent graduate candidates are not eligible to take the SPHR certification exam. Student/recent graduate  candidates must take the exam no earlier than 12 months before their graduation date and no later than 12 months after graduation from a bachelor\’s or graduate degree program.

Recently, I learned that HRCI is going to be dropping the Recent Graduate exemption. In fact, the certification requirements are changing in multiple ways by 2011. I still haven’t made up my mind yet about how I feel on the changes, but here is what HRCI says:

PHR Eligibility

SPHR Eligibility

GPHR Eligibility

• 1 year of demonstrated exempt-level HR experience with a Master\’s degree or higher
• 2 years of demonstrated exempt-level HR experience with a Bachelor\’s degree
• 4 years of demonstrated exempt-level HR experience with less than a Bachelor\’s degree
• 4 years of demonstrated exempt-level HR experience with a Master\’s degree or higher
• 5 years of demonstrated exempt-level HR experience with a Bachelor\’s degree
• 7 years of demonstrated exempt-level HR experience with less than a Bachelor\’s degree
• 2 years of demonstrated global exempt-level HR experience with a Master\’s degree or higher
• 3 years of demonstrated exempt-level HR experience (with 2 of the 3 being global HR experience) with a Bachelor\’s degree
• 4 years of demonstrated exempt-level HR experience (with 2 of the 4 being global HR experience) with less than a Bachelor\’s degree


There are several reasons for these changes. The biggest one that I can think of is that they want the exams to be more meaningful. If some “upstart” :-) can take the exam after college and pass without any exempt level HR experience, then that doesn’t necessarily mean that they’re as qualified as someone who has years of HR experience before deciding to take  the exam. And if I was one of those experienced pros who decided to get certified, it would probably bother me to know that there’s someone in the next booth with none of my experience taking the same certification exam.


On the flip side, what about that student/recent grad? If they pay the fee, put in the hours of study time, and complete the exam, then why can’t they be rewarded for those efforts? If they choose (as I did) to try to put themselves into a better position in a promotion or hiring situation, why should they be kept from that opportunity?

I’d love to hear your thoughts on the pros and cons of the decision to change the requirements.

Anyway, if you happen to be one of those people with less than two years of experience, then you should seriously consider taking the PHR exam while you still have the opportunity. In fact, if you are in that group and you’d like to shoot me an email, I’ll give you a discount on the Rock the PHR guide to help you get started.

Top 15 Reasons to Take the PHR or SPHR Exam

Getting certified. Its a big deal for some people. Not so much for others. And some people just laugh at others about it. Why in the world do people put themselves through this kind of stuff? Well, here are the top 15 reasons to take the PHR or SPHR exam… And if you don’t get humor/sarcasm, then this ain’t the post for you. :-)

  1. Your boss told you to.
  2. You really want that nifty certificate on your wall.
  3. It’s easier to be the “smug HR person” when you have letters after your name.
  4. It can help you pick up HR chicks/dudes.
  5. You want to show your mastery of some subject so boring that it would make a librarian cry.
  6. You needed an excuse to get the Rock the PHR guide.
  7. You need something to balance that upcoming performance review.
  8. That new job you’re looking at requires it.
  9. You’re in HR. Other than torturing employees, you have a lot of free time.
  10. You’d like to demonstrate excellence in (snort) and commitment to (giggle) the HR profession (cough). Riiiight.
  11. All the cool kids are doing it.
  12. You enjoy spending hundreds of dollars on study materials.
  13. Because Dwight Schrute would do it if he was in HR.
  14. You want to learn new and creative ways to make employees miserable.
  15. Because you want your HR department to do more than plan birthday parties.

And there you have them! The top 15 reasons to take the PHR or SPHR exam. Think you could do better? Have something to add? Drop it in the comments below.


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.