UPDATED 2021

Human Resources Test Guide

The Human Resources Test Summary
What: The Human Resources Certification Insititute offers three tests for HR professionals. The tests are not required to have a career in HR, however obtaining certification can significantly increase one's career opportunities.
Who: Human Resources professionals with at least two years of exempt-level experience.
Where: All three exams can be taken at any one of the 250 Prometric test centers.
When: Each year there are two eight week-long testing windows. The first one begins in May and the second begins in December. In California, the two testing windows are four weeks long.
How: Register for the exam online at HRCI.org.
Type: Multiple choice
Why: Obtaining HR certification can increase your career opportunities. It is a way for you to prove your knowledge and stand above your peers.
Time: Four hours are allotted for the PHR and SPHR exams. Three hours are given for the GPHR exam.
Language: English
Preparation: There are guidebooks available for each exam. Preparation courses are offered through many colleges and universities and through the Society for Human Resources Management.
Cost: The cost ranges from $175 to $450. Early registration and SHRM membership will significantly decrease the cost.

By Lauren Hasinger, Tests.com Contributing Writer

Human resources is an indispensible part of any business organization. As such, the opportunities for an HR professional are wide and vast. A career in human Resources can take one many places. Some of the duties an HR professional will be responsible for include strategic growth planning, talent management, recruiting and maintaining a productive work force, employee relations, training and performance management. One way for an HR professional to stand out from his peers is to earn HR certification through one of three tests:

  • Professional Human Resources Certification (PHR)
  • Senior Professional Human Resources Certification (SPHR)
  • Global Professional Human Resources Certification (GPHR)

Each certification requires a certain level of experience. The PHR and the SPHR assess general knowledge of the HR career field including workforce planning, employment law and risk management. The PHR is focused on technical and operational Human Resources functions, while the SPHR is more focused on policies and strategic issues. The GPHR focuses on international and global HR knowledge. To take the GPHR exam, a candidate must hold certification in either PHR or SPHR.

To receive PHR and SPHR certification, the candidate must have at least two years of professional (exempt-level) HR experience. It is recommended, however, that one has at least six years of professional HR experience before taking the SPHR.

While certification is not mandatory for a human resources career, the benefits are tremendous. Achieving PHR, SPHR or GPHR certification places one ahead of their peers in the job market. It can show that one has mastered the HR career field and is a mark of distinction on a resume or business card.

How to Take the Certification Exams

Testing is done through the Human Resources Certification Institute. There are two eight week-long testing windows (four week-long windows in California). The current examination fees range from $175 to $475, depending on when the application is submitted and the exam taken. Members of the Society of Human Resources Management (SHRM) receive a $50 discount.

The exam must be taken at a Prometric test center location. There are more than 250 testing centers located throughout the United States. Four hours are given to complete the PHR and SPHR exams, which consist of 225 multiple-choice questions including strategic management, workforce planning and employee and labor relations. Only 200 questions are scored, while the other 25 are pretest questions randomly placed throughout the exam.

Three hours are given to complete the GPHR exam, which consists of 165 multiple-choice questions (150 scored and 15 pretest questions).

A score of 500 is required to pass each exam. The minimum score is 100 and the maximum is 700. Before leaving the testing center, candidates will receive a preliminary score indicating whether they have passed or failed the exam. Official test results will be mailed to the candidate’s home within two to three weeks. If a test taker does not pass the exam, they can retest during the next testing window.

PHR, SPHR or GPHR certification is a key way to get help you boost your resume, broaden your career goals or prove your knowledge. Are you ready to start preparing for a human resources exam? Please visit the Human Resources Test Directory.  For more information on the PHR, visit our PHR Test Directory and PHR Test Guide.  For more information on the SPHR, visit our SPHR Test Directory and SPHR Test Guide.