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Is the PHR/SPHR Certfication Worth the Paper It's Printed On?


When - Monday night...

Where - A big training center somewhere in suburban Birmingham...

Who - Some instructors, plus a bunch of PHR/SPHR candidates looking for an edge...

Why - Certification class for the PHR/SPHR certification...

Which begs the question - Is the PHR/SPHR certification worth the paper it's printed on?  After all, I gotBen_stein the PHR certification back in the day (1998), picked up the SPHR four years after that (2002), re-certified the SPHR in 2005 via four days worth of webcasts, and through it all have never had the feeling the certification was responsible for the upward mobility in my career.

Even with that viable question, I'm looking forward to assisting with the instruction of the PHR/SPHR certification prep class put on by the Birmingham branch of SHRM (aptly named BSHRM by the locals).  I'm teaching the Employee and Labor Relations module.  Can't wait to break out the TIPS/FOE science when it comes to dealing with union drives, etc.  Should be fun..

But back to the question - is it worth it?  The time? (6 Saturdays, 40 hours just for the class alone) The money (around $1K for the learning system, class and registration fees)?   I guess I have to answer that as a manager who hires HR people.  First up, it's a resume sorter.  All things being equal, I'll call someone with the credentials quicker than I will someone without.  Additionally, seeking and gaining certification is still fairly rare.  If you did it, you are sending a couple of messages.  You care about the profession, enough to differentiate yourself.  Plus, you've been exposed to the body of knowledge and mastered it, enough to pass the exam.  So you know more than you've been able to display at the sweatshop you call a company.  Cool!

What about the duckets ($$$)?  I don't think that being certified guarantees more compensation throughout your career.  While it serves as a great resume sorter, what you are worth is still built on what you do with the job once you are in it.  The good news?  Being exposed to the content in prepping for the exam is a good thing and makes you more credible in the long run.

More knowledge should equate into more compensation, or as Randy Moss would say, "cash money".   It'd be nice for the HRCI to do a study showing the cash value of the PHR/SPHR to HR pros.  I think it's there, but we need a little science to be sure...



Interesting. I love it when someone challenges conventional wisdom and demands hard evidence for unsubstantiated claims.

But didn't the author mean "ducats"? There's no such word as "ducket."


Ducket is a slang term for money. You need to get out more.
Interesting article. I have often wondered this myself since I took the class but not the exam.

HR Wench

I think its worth it knowledge wise. I purchased a used learning system but didn't take any courses prior to taking and passing the PHR a few years back. In studying I learned a lot about areas that I haven't had much experience in. It was actually pretty fun for me. I do think it shows one is serious about the profession as well - it costs some duckets and takes some effort. :)


Mary/Ginny/HRW -

Thanks for commenting. In general terms, I think the payback is there, although it comes in a variety of ways you may or may not be able to seperate from other factors in your career.

Bottom line, you get the certification to show you are different, and in pursuing the knowledge, you probably become different and grow as a HR pro. That's got to be a good thing...


Laurie Ruettimann

I've been SPHR certified since 2001. Do you know how many people give a rat's butt?


I think your bottom line is exactly right, but the best way to differentiate yourself in Human Resources is to have a credible MBA or JD.


Hello, I am trying to prepare for the SPHR. I will probably buy the book HR Management by Mathis and Jackson and also purchase the certgear tests. I see you mentioned an outline for preparing. Is that somewhere on your blog where I can access that. Please let me know. Thanks Mary.


Like HR Wench and Kris said, certification shows you are serious about the profession and wanting to learn more. It distinguishes you among your peers.


I just took and passed the SPHR certification test after using the SHRM Learning System to prepare for the test. While I think there was some marginal benefit to my studying the material, I don't believe the test is any measure of required job competencies. It tests knowledge and to a small degree comprehension of the "body of knowledge." However, it is certainly no indicator of whether the individual has the necessary people skills, political savvy, and leadership skills to excel in an HR leadership position


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