Human Resources Certification & Training

Human Resources Certification and Training

The human resources industry is an ever changing and growing field that can be quite competitive. Therefore, it is vital that human resources professionals who wish to stand out stay on top of their game and strive to keep apprised of new developments in the field. HR professionals can choose to earn certifications and complete continuing education classes to help them stay up to date.

The Human Resources Certification Institute is the credentialing organization of the human resources field and strives to further the goal of promoting professional HR standards. When a human resources professional holds a human resources certification from the HR Certification Institute it may signal to potential employers as well as professional colleagues that the individual was able to demonstrate a satisfactory level of competency in key areas of human resources practice.

How Certification Differs from a Certificate Program

Although they can sound very similar there are critical differences between a human resources certification and a human resources certificate program.

A human resources certificate program is offered by an educational institution and it provides students the opportunity to earn a certificate upon completing their course of study. A certificate program typically does not have a work experience requirement.

Human resources certifications require applicants to possess a certain amount of previous work experience, meet specific educational standards, successfully pass an examination, and complete continuing education requirements in order to earn and maintain a human resources certification.

Human Resources Professional Certification Options

There are various certification options available for human resources professionals who seek to get certified.

The HR Certification Institute offers various certification options including:

  • Professional in Human Resources (“PHR”)
  • Senior Professional in Human Resources (“SPHR”)
  • Global Professional in Human Resources (“GPHR”)
  • Human Resources Management Professional (“HRMP”)
  • Human Resources Business Professional (“HRBP”)

Each certification requires applicants to meet a different set of requirements; these requirements vary according to the highest level of education an applicant has completed. 

Professional in Human Resources

The Professional in Human Resources (PHR®) certification demonstrates mastery of the technical and operational aspects of HR practices and U.S. laws and regulations. The professionally relevant credential is for the HR professional who focuses on program implementation, has a tactical/logistical orientation, is accountable to another HR professional within the organization and has responsibilities that focus on the HR department rather than the whole organization.

Professional in Human Resources Certification Requirements

  • A minimum of 1 year of experience in a professional HR position with a Master’s degree or higher, OR
  • A minimum of 2 years of experience in a professional HR position with a Bachelor’s degree, OR
  • A minimum of 4 years of experience with a high school diploma AND Successful Completion of a 175 Question Examination

Recertification is required every three years. Recertification can be earned by demonstrating that the individual has completed 60 recertification credits OR by retaking the exam

Senior Professional in Human Resources

The Senior Professional in Human Resources (SPHR®) certification is recognized as a professionally relevant credential for those who have mastered the strategic and policy-making aspects of HR management in the United States. It is designed for the HR professional who plans, rather than implements, HR policy, focuses on the “big picture,” has ultimate accountability in the HR department, has breadth and depth of knowledge in all HR disciplines and understands the business beyond the HR function and influences the overall organization.

Senior Professional in Human Resources Certification Requirements

  • A minimum of 4 years of experience in a professional HR position with a Master’s degree or higher, OR
  • A minimum of 5 years of experience in a professional HR position with a Bachelor’s degree, OR
  • A minimum of 7 years of experience with a high school diploma AND Successful Completion of a 175 Question Examination

Recertification is required every three years. Recertification can be earned by demonstrating that the individual has completed 60 recertification credits, of which 15 credit hours are in business management and strategy OR by retaking the exam

Global Professional in Human Resources

The Global Professional in Human Resources (GPHR®) is a global, competency-based credential that is designed to validate the skills and knowledge of an HR professional who operates in a global marketplace. The credential demonstrates the mastery of cross-border HR responsibilities to include strategies of globalization, development of HR policies and initiatives that support organizational global growth and employer retention and creation of organizational programs, processes and tools that achieve worldwide business goals.

Global Professional in Human Resources Certification Requirements

  • A minimum of 2 years of global experience in a professional HR position with a Master’s degree or higher, OR
  • A minimum of 3 years of global experience in a professional HR position with a Bachelor’s degree, OR
  • A minimum of 4 years of global experience with a high school diploma AND Successful Completion of a 165 Question Examination

Recertification is required every three years. Recertification can be earned by demonstrating that the individual has completed 60 recertification credits, of which 15 credit hours are in international human resources OR by retaking the exam.

Human Resources Management Professional

The Human Resource Management Professional (HRMP®) is a global, competency-based credential that is designed to validate professional-level core HR knowledge and skills. The credential demonstrates mastery of generally accepted technical and operational HR principles. Independent of geographic region, the credential complements local HR practices. Through demonstrated knowledge, the credential enhances the credibility of HR professionals and the organizations they serve.

Human Ressources Management Professional Certification Requirements

*Eligible to candidates outside of the United States and must demonstrate knowledge of employment laws.

  • A minimum of 4 years of experience in a professional HR position with a Master’s degree or global equivalent, OR
  • A minimum of 5 years of experience in a professional HR position with a Bachelor’s degree or global equivalent, OR
  • A minimum of 7 years of experience with a high school diploma or global equivalent AND Successful Completion of a 175 Question Examination

Recertification is required every three years. Recertification can be earned by demonstrating that the individual has completed 60 recertification credits, of which 15 credit hours are in business management and strategy OR by retaking the exam.

Human Resources Business Professional

The Human Resource Business Professional (HRBP®) is a global, competency-based credential that is designed to validate professional-level core HR knowledge and skills. The credential demonstrates mastery of generally accepted technical and operational HR principles. Independent of geographic region, the credential complements local HR practices. Through demonstrated knowledge, the credential enhances the credibility of HR professionals and the organizations they serve.

Human Resources Business Professional Certification Requirements

*Eligible to candidates outside of the United States.

  • A minimum of 1 year of experience in a professional HR position with a Master’s degree or global equivalent, OR
  • A minimum of 2 years of experience in a professional HR position with a Bachelor’s degree or global equivalent, OR
  • A minimum of 4 years of experience with a high school diploma or global equivalent AND Successful Completion of a 170 Question Examination

Recertification is required every three years. Recertification can be earned by demonstrating that the individual has completed 60 recertification credits OR by retaking the exam.

Who needs Human Resources Certification?

A human resources certification may help HR professionals boost their professional status. A human resources certification may serve to impress clients and employers alike, and HR professionals with lofty career goals may want to make certification a priority.

Some career opportunities may require applicants to provide evidence of a level of certification, however; certification is not required as part of a licensure process. Individuals who have not earned certification will still be able to pursue a career as human resources professional.

 Search for Human Resources Management Graduate Programs


About the Author: Svetlana Pham is a New Jersey based freelance writer. She has a BA in English from Rutgers University and an J.D. from New York Law School.