A Brief History

In 1960, a Cornell University study found that a profession is defined by five characteristics:

  1. A profession must be full time.
  2. Schools and curricula must be aimed specifically at teaching the basic ideas of the profession, and there must be a defined common body of knowledge.
  3. A profession must have a national professional association.
  4. A profession must have a certification program.
  5. A profession must have a code of ethics.

Based on this definition, the American Society of Personnel Administration (ASPA) set out to create a set of criteria that would define HR management as a profession. As part of this process, ASPA, (now known as the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) approved the formation of a task force to explore the creation of an HR certification, what was then called HR accreditation. In 1973, based on the task force’s recommendations, the ASPA Accreditation Institute (AAI) was born.

AAI administered the first HR exams in 1976. As the HR profession matured, the certification program changed.

Today, the AAI is known as the HRCI®.

HRCI is the premier professional credentialing organization for the human resource management profession. For more than 40 years, HRCI has set the standard for worldwide HR mastery and excellence. The HRCI suite of seven HR credentials, represent various levels of HR knowledge, skill and practice-based experience. Best-in-class HRCI certifications include the Professional in Human Resources (PHR) and the Senior Professional in Human Resources (SPHR). With HRCI credential holders in more than 100 countries, the HRCI vision is the advancement of HR practitioners, people and organizations.

Learn more about the History of HRCI.