A Professional in Human Resources (PHR) certification is an important credential for HR professionals. This certification is proof of your knowledge of the latest principles and practices of HR management, and raises your worth in the eyes of potential employers. PHR certification is provided by the Human Resources Certification Institute (HRCI) to candidates who take and clear the prescribed exam. Only professionals having the specified minimum experience in different areas of HR management are eligible to take this exam.

Browse the HRCI website (see Resource 1) to get details of the PHR certification process. Check the eligibility requirements to see if you qualify to take the exam. As of 2011, the experience requirement is one year for those with a master’s degree or higher, two years for those who have a bachelor’s degree and four years for those with an education less than a bachelor’s degree. This experience should be at a professional level, with a minimum of 51 percent of your daily activities being HR centered.

Download and read the HR Certification Handbook available on the HRCI website and get information about the certification process and exam content.

Create a profile on the HRCI website and procure a user ID and password. Provide the required information, which includes your full name, e-mail ID and mailing address. Fill out relevant details of your qualifying HR work experience, taking care that the job title you list matches the approved position codes. Fill out the Supporting Documentation form and attach details of your official job description.

Submit the application and pay the fee using a credit card. Alternatively, you can pay through a money order, certified or cashier’s check or organizational or company check payable to HRCI.

Wait for notification of the Authorization to Test that indicates you are eligible to take the certification test. Confirm that all details on this document are accurate. Contact the HRCI office for corrections.

Prepare for the PHR exam by attending a program such as the one offered by the Society for Human Resource Management (see Resource 2). Participating in such programs will help you determine the areas in which you need to concentrate during your exam preparation. Take the practice tests to get a feel of the actual exam.

Take the exam as scheduled and wait to receive notification of your result. If you clear the exam, you will receive the official score report and confirmation of your PHR certification in around six weeks through the mail.

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