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Getting Your PHR Certification: What You Need to Know

What is PHR certification? It stands for Professional in Human Resources. It’s a highly-regarded professional credential that shows you have a commitment to a high level of excellence in HR work, understand the most important HR concepts, and are ready for a raise, promotion, or role at a new company. 


Place your PHR certification on your resume and professional social network. Mention it to your manager or prospective employer. Since it takes at least a year of work experience and months of study to qualify for it and earn, it’s immediately impressive.


There’s data-supported evidence that PHR certification helps HR professionals get promotions and higher pay. If you want to know how to get PHR certification and the requirements you’ll need to fulfill, we’ll cover everything you need below.

What Does the PHR Exam Cover? 

Your PHR exam will test you in these functional areas of HR: 


  • Business Management 

  • Talent Planning and Acquisition

  • Learning and Development 

  • Total Rewards 

  • Employee and Labor Relations 


You’ll learn more advanced responsibilities in each category than you would as an entry-level HR employee. You’ll also study difficult concepts, such as adult learning processes, data analysis, and compensation policies.


Your study materials will make you learn more about duties you’ll perform in a typical role at the PHR level. This certification is focused on real jobs that you might enter or that you’re already in. That knowledge alone can help you get ahead in your role.

Benefits of PHR Certification

What is a PHR certification really going to do for your career? It will show that you have mastered the major operational and technical areas of HR in the US. It also proves that you already have experience implementing HR programs and thinking tactically about HR. 


Plus, data from a Payscale.com study found that within five years of starting an HR career, a PHR certification gives HR professionals a higher chance of being promoted. More specifically, the study found that 34% of HR assistants without a certification were promoted, whereas 63% of HR assistants with PHR certification were promoted. 


And promotions are not given just because someone flashes their PHR certification; instead, promotions may come because a PHR certification pushes HR professionals to learn and master advanced HR concepts, which helps them perform better at their jobs.

Is PHR Certification Better than aPHR Certification?

What is the difference between PHR and aPHR certification? The aPHR certification gives you a broad base of HR knowledge to prepare you for an entry-level position before you have HR experience. It’s a powerful tool for helping you start your career. 


The aPHR exam covers general HR subjects, such as HR operations, recruitment, benefits, and so on. It’s an introduction to HR. 


In contrast, the PHR exam train you in more complex ideas, which include higher-level thinking about HR and more difficult job duties. If you already have a year or more of experience in HR work, PHR certification may serve you better.

How do I Get My PHR Certification?

Below are all the details on how to get PHR certification, including how you qualify for it. Be sure to check off these tasks:


  1. Apply to take the exam, and pay the application fee

  2. Schedule your exam

  3. Study for your exam, using study resources as needed

  4. Pay for the exam

  5. Take your exam as scheduled

Who Is Eligible to Get the PHR Certification?

You can qualify to take the PHR certification exam if you meet at least one of these conditions:


  • Have at least 4 years of professional HR experience OR

  • Have at least 2 years of professional HR experience AND at least a bachelor’s degree (in any subject area) OR

  • Have at least 1 year of professional HR experience AND at least a master’s degree

How Long is the Exam?

You’ll have three hours to complete your PHR certification exam.

What is the Format of the Exam?

The exam includes 150 scored questions, which will almost all be multiple-choice questions. It will be given on a computer at a Pearson VUE testing center.

How Much Does the Exam Cost?

PHR certification requires two fees: 


  • Exam application fee: $100

  • Exam fee: $395

Improve Your HR Skills

The greatest reward for earning your PHR certification is the satisfaction of understanding the HR world better and improving at your work. Of course, raises or promotions (if they happen) could easily pay back your exam fees. 

Check out our expert tools for studying for your PHR certification exam. And visit HRCP for other HR certification study guides and to receive help. Good luck, future PHR!

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