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Last Updated: September 22, 2022

What is PHR Certification?

A PHR or Professional in Human Resource Certification is taken by candidates who possess both educational qualifications and necessary professional HR experience. It is a certification that is sought after by multinational companies, especially for managerial positions and candidates will be able to take the certification irrespective of their educational level as long as they can meet the job experience criterion for the certification.

Though having a PHR certification is not mandatory for job positions, having it can improve the job prospects of the candidate. The test deals with real-life situations and is hence different from other tests that are based on learning materials. Candidates will be assessed based on the tasks they are supposed to do daily within the HR field. One will be able to study for the certification by being diligent in their everyday work and making sure that they know the basics of the tasks they handle to explain them better during the certification test.

Who Can Apply for PHR Certification?

There is no set educational qualification that candidates must have to take the PHR certification but candidates ought to complete a high school diploma at the very least to take the test. The educational qualifications they have higher than this level will be used in reducing the number of years’ worth of job experience they require for the certification. Candidates who are senior professionals or managers in companies will be able to take other certifications like the Senior Professional in Human Resources/SPHR if they are overqualified for the PHR certification.
Educational LevelJob Experience
High School Diploma4 years
Bachelor’s Level2 years
Master’s Level1 year

Cost of PHR Certification

The cost of taking the examination will have to be paid during registration. The amount that one has to pay is $395 along with an application fee of $100. Once the application has been approved, candidates will not be allowed to apply for a refund whether or not they withdraw or cancel the examination.

Duration to Take PHR Certification

The duration of the examination is only 2 hours with candidates being provided with an additional 30 minutes of administrative time at the beginning of the examination.

Process to Obtain PHR Certification

The process for obtaining a PHR certification begins with creating an account on the official HRCI website. Out of all the certifications offered by this organization, candidates will be able to choose the PHR certification and further complete the application process by providing their details. The steps for applying are as follows-

Exam Format for PHR Certification

This examination has 90 scored questions along with 25 pre-test questions right now. All the questions are computer-based and in the form of multiple-choice questions with each question having four options. There is a time limit of 2 hours for the entire test. Candidates will be given an additional 30 minutes for the initial administration part of the examination.

Exam Content in PHR Certification

Candidates who are taking the PHR certification will know that most of the exam content provided for the same is taken from daily tasks that people in the HR field are supposed to do. Since HR professionals are interviewed every 5 years to keep the certification updated, candidates will only have to understand their daily tasks enough to explain them or be efficient with them to pass the test. The content for the examination has 5 different sections each of which takes a different weightage in the paper. This is as follows-
Employee & Labor Relations39%
Business Management20%
Talent Planning & Acquisition 16%
Total Rewards15%
Learning & Development10%

Preparing for the PHR Exam

The PHR examination is considered to be an extremely hard exam to clear with a pass rate of only 69% in 2019. This is mainly because the content for the examination is based on the tasks handled by the human resource departments within the workspace and not something that one can understand with textbook knowledge. The demonstration of professional competency can be a hard task to achieve especially due to its ever-changing nature.

The amount of time one has to invest for this examination is dependent on the work experience and background of the candidate. A few of the things one can do for prep include-

Scoring the Assessments

Candidates who have completed the test at the online center will be able to know the scores immediately and they will be made accessible around 24 to 48 hours after the administration of the test. Candidates will be sent an email regarding the release of the results. The score scale lies anywhere between 100 and 700 and candidates need to have a score of 500 or above to clear the examination. Their exact score will not be revealed in the report and candidates will only know whether they failed or passed the test.

Validity and Renewal of PHR Certification

Candidates who have successfully passed the exam will be able to use the certification for 3 years after which they will have to renew the same. The renewal process will require candidates to prove their continued education in the field. They will require 60 continuing education credits within the 3 years. They will also be able to retake the examination instead of renewing the same if they do not meet the requirements for renewal.


After every 3 years, candidates are required to recertify the PHR if they wish to maintain the credential and also to increase their notability within the workspace. Candidates will be able to take the Continuous Learning Path and prove that they have sufficient credits in professional development and professional achievement to recertify the PHR. An HR membership will earn them up to 12 credits whereas self-directed learning can provide them with up to 30 credits. Credits can also be earned through the implementation of new programs at work, by serving as a volunteer HR expert, or even by doing HR-related research.

A few candidates also recertify themselves by taking the examination again.

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