Definition

Human Resource Certification Institute (HRCI)

HRCI (Human Resource Certification Institute) is a U.S. based credentialing organization offering certifications to HR generalists, administrators and managers. The certifications are awarded upon successful completion of competency exams that cover Human Resource Management (HRM) practices, policies and principles. Human Resource professionals seek HRCI certifications to boost career opportunities, professional credibility, and compensation rates. 

HRCI exam content varies by certification type. Each exam is designed to demonstrate mastery and real-world application of HR practices, policies and principles. Exams are accredited by The National Commission for Certifying Agencies(NCCA). Renewal/recertification is required every three years for the retention of HRCI credentials. To obtain recertification, professionals must either retake the certification exam or earn 60 HR-related professional development training credits. All training must be provided by HRCI approved providers (APs).

HRCI awards one recertification credit hour for every hour of concurrent session time. Accepted training includes Continuing Education Units (CEUs), Continuing Legal Education (CLE), college and university courses, conferences and seminars, video conferences, audiotapes, webcasts, podcasts, and e-learning courses.

HRCI Certifications

aPHR (Associate Professional in Human Resources) - entry level certification designed for people who are new to HR in the United States. This certification does not require a degree or prior work experience.

aPHRI (Associate Professional in Human Resources-International) - certifies individuals who have successfully demonstrated HR foundational knowledge. This certification does not require a degree or prior work experience. 

SPHR (Senior Professional in Human Resources) - certifies that an individual demonstrates mastery of the strategic and policy-making aspects of HR management as practiced in the U.S. This certification requires a degree plus work experience.

SPHRi (Senior Professional in Human Resources-International) - certifies competency and mastery of generally accepted HR principles in strategy, policy development and service delivery on an international level. This certification requires a degree plus work experience. 

PHR (Professional in Human Resources) - certifies mastery of the technical and operational aspects of HR management, including U.S. laws and regulations. This certification requires a degree plus work experience. 

GPHR (Global Professional in Human Resources) - certifies expertise in multinational HR responsibilities. This certification requires a degree plus work experience. 

PHRca (Professional in Human Resources-California) - certifies mastery of the laws, regulations and HR management practices unique to the state of California. This certification requires a degree plus work experience. 

PHRi (Professional in Human Resources-International) - certifies mastery of the technical and operational aspects of HR practices, regardless of geographic region. This certification requires a degree plus work experience. 

HRCI Certification Process

  1. Create an HRCI account
  2. Review education and career requirements
  3. Choose appropriate certification(s) and begin application
  4. Review HRCI exam content outlines
  5. Take exam practice tests (fees apply)
  6. Pay application and exam fees
  7. Schedule a test appointment (within 120 days) at a Pearson VUE testing location. Official test results are available within 24-48 hours. The average pass rate across all certifications is 71%.

HRCI vs. SHRM certifications

The Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) offers two competency-based HR certifications, the SHRM Certified Professional (SHRM-CP) and the SHRM Senior Certified Professional (SHRM-SCP).

While HRCI certification fees vary by certification type, SHRM-CP and SHRM-SCP are priced at $300 for SHRM members and $400 for nonmembers. Professionals must recertify SHRM certifications every three years by earning 60 SHRM credits.

This was last updated in April 2019

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