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A New Year Means New Opportunities for HR Professionals - Archbright

With 2020 nearly behind us, it feels as though we have been holding our collective breath for the last nine months, waiting for a change, an update, or just some good news. Many have been in a holding pattern, waiting to see where they may land at year-end. As we look forward to a new year, perhaps it is finally time to exhale and look to new beginnings. And although the residual challenges of 2020 could remain for many months, that makes the need for Human Resources training more vital than ever. For those that have experienced the twists and turns of 2020 from a Human Resources perspective, 2021 is the perfect year to seek new opportunities in HR certification.

Why Choose Human Resources Certification?

According to the Human Resource Certification Institute (HRCI), the largest HR certification organization in the world for the last 44 years, the top three reasons that employers should seek to certify their HR employees are:

  • To “minimize exposure to corporate risk”
  • To ensure that “HR has the skills to develop talent recruitment and retention strategies”
  • To “create a strong, positive company culture”

So many HR professionals fall into the field due to organizational necessity. They stumble along the way, seeking resources wherever they can find them. A true Human Resources certification ensures that the HR professional, from Generalist to Director, has the resources they need to succeed.

“HRCI defines a ‘professional-level’ HR position as one that includes:

  • The ability to use independent judgment and discretion in performing work duties.
  • A level of specialized knowledge in the HR field with some authority for decision-making.
  • In-depth work requirements, such as data gathering, analysis and interpretation.
  • Interaction with a broad range of individuals, including key personnel.
  • Individual accountability for results.”

Certification in Human Resources provides HR employees with the support they need, providing the necessary skills to support an organization with data-driven results.

Which HRCI Certification Is Right for Me?

There are three HR certifications that are most widely sought after, depending on one’s education level and experience in the field. They are the Associate Professional in Human Resources (aPHR), the Professional in Human Resources (PHR), and the Senior Professional in Human Resources (SPHR).

The requirements for each are as follows:

aPHR Requirements

The Associate Professional in Human Resources (aPHR) certification is designed for HR employees who have just begun their HR career or for employees in another field seeking to transition to Human Resources. It is also ideal for college graduates who are interested in pursuing a career in HR.

Per HRCI guidelines, “to be eligible for the aPHR, you must have a high school diploma or global equivalent. No HR experience is required since this is a knowledge-based credential.”

If pursuing an aPHR certification, Archbright recommends taking an aPHR study course taught by certified PHR and SPHR professionals to prepare for the certification exam. The aPHR exam is 2 hours and 15 minutes in length, with 100 scored questions and 25 pretest questions.

PHR Requirements

The Professional in Human Resources (PHR) certification is designed for the HR professional with more experience in the field. To be eligible to sit for the PHR exam, per HRCI guidelines, an employee must have:

  • A minimum of 1 year of experience in a professional-level HR position with a Master’s degree or higher, OR
  • A minimum of 2 years of experience in a professional-level HR position with a Bachelor’s degree, OR
  • A minimum of 4 years of experience in a professional-level HR position with a high school diploma

The PHR exam is 3 hours in length, with 150 scored questions and 25 pretest questions. Archbright experts highly recommend taking an exam prep course to ensure concepts are fully developed. A prep course will also provide sample test questions and study aids for test preparation.

SPHR Requirements

The Senior Professional in Human Resources (SPHR) certification is designed for the HR professional with significantly more experience in the field. Per HRCI, “The SPHR demonstrates…mastery of the strategic and policy-making aspects of HR management as practiced in the U.S. The credential is designed for big-picture thinkers responsible for planning rather than implementing HR policy.” To be eligible to sit for the SPHR exam, an employee must have:

  • A minimum of 4 years of experience in a professional-level HR position with a Master’s degree or higher, OR
  • A minimum of 5 years of experience in a professional-level HR position with a Bachelor’s degree, OR
  • A minimum of 7 years of experience in a professional-level HR position with a high school diploma

The SPHR exam is also 3 hours in length, with 150 scored questions and 25 pretest questions. Though the employee sitting for the SPHR certification exam will have a deeper understanding of HR concepts, an exam prep course is strongly recommended for higher-level discussion of key concepts. A prep course will provide access to senior professionals in the field, test preparation materials, and study aids.

Planning and Next Steps

As the sun begins to set on one of the most unpredictable years in history, it’s time to start planning for the sunrise of 2021, a year of new beginnings, albeit with continued challenges for HR professionals.

Archbright University’s aPHR and PHR/SPHR certification prep classes are a great place to start for the HR professional ready to take the plunge. Archbright’s aPHR test preparation course is a six-week offering in which participants attend class one morning per week. Senior HR professional teach each class, and cover the six functional areas of the exam:

  • HR Operations
  • Employee Relations
  • Recruitment and Selection
  • Compensation and Benefits
  • Human Resource Development and Retention
  • Health Safety and Security

For those ready to pursue the PHR/SPHR certification, Archbright University offers a twelve-week prep course that allows for a deep dive into key concepts covered on the exam. Senior HR professionals, attorneys, benefits and compensation experts, and learning and development experts teach the classes. Each week, classes are focused on the six functional areas of the PHR and SPHR exams:

  • Business Management and Strategy
  • Workforce Planning and Employment
  • Human Resources Development
  • Compensation and Benefits
  • Employee and Labor Relations
  • Risk Management

Though it is impossible to know what 2021 will bring, arming employees with the knowledge they need for success will help ensure that they and their organizations are ready for whatever the future may hold. For more information on aPHR or PHR/SPHR requirements, please contact info@archbright.com.

Picture of Amy Bachmann

Amy Bachmann