This post was originally published on October 9, 2015, but content has been updated to include the most current version of our free PHR practice test.
Many HR professionals consider taking the Professional in Human Resources (PHR) exam, but question whether it’s worth their time and money. The PHR exam is a 175-question test, administered by the Human Resources Certification Institute (HRCI), that many HR professionals take to earn PHR certification. It covers 6 functional areas, which are listed in the HR Body of Knowledge. The certification is valid for 3 years, at which point it’s renewable by retaking the test or by demonstrating professional development (60 recertification credits.)
As sort of an internal company dare, we created a PHR practice test. Suddenly, there was a lot of interest, score-comparing, and even some friendly wagering. Encouraged, we did more research. We quickly found that, in addition to being a great way to test and build upon your HR knowledge, the PHR is also likely to help you make more money, advance your career, and get an important-sounding (and actually important) credential without going to medical or law school. Here’s what else we learned about the PHR:
The pass rate for the PHR exam is about 58-60%. Most people spend at least 2 months to more than 8 months studying for it. Test prep can be costly: many books, videos, classes, and practice tests are available—at a substantial investment.
Because the exam is an assessment of both HR expertise and experience, you must meet professional prerequisites in order to take it. The qualifying requirements are:
The PHR exam and certification began in 1988 (though the HRCI began offering similar certifications long before that) and is recognized across all 50 states. Many HR professionals know that it takes a high level of both experiential knowledge and studying to pass the exam, so earning the certification is a great way to distinguish yourself.
According to a survey by Payscale.com, the PHR is more than just an impressive acronym on your business card. It can help you earn more money—as much as $20K more—than your counterparts who don’t have it.
PHR-certified professionals are also more likely to be promoted. The Payscale study findings showed that HR assistants, administrators, and generalists were 16-30% more likely to get a promotion when they held a PHR or SPHR certification.
As with most things, there are naysayers and passionate advocates for PHR certification. Whether it’s worthwhile for you is a matter of personal perspective, and possibly the best reason to do it is simply because you want to.
Here at Zenefits, many of us did decide to start studying for the PHR. We found that practice tests are useful, but usually expensive, so we’re happy to offer you our free practice test. Take it for a spin, assess your knowledge, and see if you want to sign up for the full PHR exam!