HRBoK - A Guide to the Human Resource Body of Knowledge

A Benchmark Guide for the HR Profession

Align your knowledge, HR department, or HR program with this comprehensive framework of benchmark HR practices, A Guide to the Human Resource Body of Knowledge™ (HRBoK™), from HR Certification Institute® (HRCI®).

In addition to being one of many great exam preparation tools for HRCI certification candidates, HR professionals use the HRBoK as a reference to ensure their organizations are aligned with the HR competencies necessary to meet the demands of the ever-changing Human Resource Management (HRM) profession.


A Resource for the HRM Profession

The HRBoK™ provides you with a comprehensive overview of the profession and essential HR practices. HRCI's second edition of the HRBoK is a great resource that benefits:

  • HR practitioners – The guide enables professionals to self-assess their knowledge and understanding of HR management (HRM) practices.
  • HR organizations – The HRBoK provides HR departments with insight and context for comparing HRM practices with generally accepted principles and best practices.
  • HR Instructors – University professors of HR, HRCI certification preparation providers and HRCI Approved Providers can ensure that that topics covered in classes and programs prepare participants to succeed in the HR profession.
  • HRCI Certification Candidates – This guide covers the core knowledge requirements for all exams developed by HRCI and aligns with their Exam Content Outlines, making the HRBoK a useful resource for professionals planning to take, or preparing others to take an HRCI exam.

The HRBoK is divided into six content areas: Business Management and Strategy; Workforce Planning and Employment; Human Resource Development; Compensation and Benefits; Employee and Labor Relations; and Risk Management.

The ideas in this book? To help HR practitioners, academics and thought leaders deliver more value from a shared set of best practices and benchmarks. Whether you are a student of HR, an international HR professional, a seasoned practitioner or professional influencer, it is indeed a great time to be in HR. We know what it takes to be successful, and because of this, HR professionals can be a valued business partner by rising to the opportunities." - From the Forward by Dave Ulrich

HRBoK Frequently Asked Questions

  • What is the HRBoK and why did HRCI create one?

    The HRBoK provides an overview of the HR profession and is used to describe what an HR professional needs to know and be able to do in that profession. While it is the foundation for a certification exam, it is also a framework for the practice of HR that can be used by the profession and by people who are educating others in the profession.

  • How does the HRBoK impact me?

    As the HR field continues to become more diverse and complex, HR professionals need an informational resource for periodic check-ins as well as an authoritative reference. The guide, providing a thorough understanding of the different areas of HR knowledge, is essential for an organization to know if its HR department is functioning appropriately. Using the HRBoK as a reference, HR professionals can assess their own participation against a common framework for the profession. The guide also provides new entrants into the profession with an understanding of the standard breadth of knowledge in the HR field.

  • How was the HRBoK created?

    A “Body of Knowledge” or “BoK” is a standard tool across many professions and is defined as a document that encompasses the concepts, knowledge and tasks that are highly regarded by a specific profession. The HRBoK describes the accepted practices within designated content areas that have been defined and validated through an extensive HR practice analysis process.

    A Guide to the Human Resource Body of Knowledge includes contributions from noted experts on the wide variety of topics that cover the essential skills, knowledge and methods that define the profession's best practices. As a certifying body for over four decades, HRCI draws on its collective expertise to codify a standard body of knowledge for the field. The HRBoK is an important contribution, providing HR practitioners and their organizations with a benchmark for leadership within the practice of HRM.

  • How will this guide help the HR profession?

    The HRBok can be used by the HR profession in multiple ways to:

    1. Define the strategies that HR professionals need to help their profession and their organizations.
    2. Help an HR practitioner assess their own skill set.
    3. Assist HR departments in determining if organizational HR practices are aligned with standard HR practices.
  • Will the HRBoK help someone study for the exam?

    The HRBoK will help HRCI certification exam candidates more clearly understand the knowledge base that HR professionals are expected to have. You will not find specific answers to exam questions in the HRBoK. It is not designed to be an exam preparation guide, since accredited certification programs – such as those provided by HRCI – cannot produce teaching materials for their own exams. However, the HRBoK is a useful reference to help certification candidates have an understanding of topics defined within specific functional areas of standard HR practice.

  • Is this a useful tool for educators?

    Absolutely! This is a great resource for educators who want to prepare their students for the world of HR work. This guide helps educators ensure that what they are covering in their educational programs will prepare students to practice in the real-world as HR professionals. The guide is a written from a very practical point of view and is a nice combination of theory and practice.

  • How often will the HRBoK be updated?

    Any time the practice of HR changes in a meaningful way, HRCI will update the HRBoK.


  • Can I buy this even if I am not an applicant?

    Of course, you can purchase a digital or hard copy of the HRBoK from many popular sites, including Amazon and Barnes and Noble. Click here to learn more.


    Disclaimer: A Guide to the Human Resource Body of Knowledge™ (the “HRBoK™”) is intended to serve as a source of information and best practices for human resource professionals and is provided for informational purposes only. The views expressed in the HRBoK are the consensus of multiple authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Human Resources Certification Institute® (HRCI®) or its employees, officers, or directors (collectively, “HRCI”), or any individual or group of authors (collectively, “the authors”). Although HRCI and the authors made every effort to present accurate, timely, and reliable information in the HRBoK, HRCI does not endorse, approve, or certify such information, nor does HRCI make any representations or warranties concerning the accuracy, completeness, efficacy, or timeliness of the contents of the HRBoK. Use of the HRBoK is voluntary, and users should carefully make their own assessment as to the HRBoK’s accuracy, completeness, and relevance for their purposes, as well as obtain any appropriate professional advice relevant to their particular circumstances. Users may wish to consult other sources for additional views or information not covered by this publication. HRCI assumes no responsibility for consequences resulting from the use of the HRBoK and the information contained herein. HRCI is not responsible for, and expressly disclaims all liability for, damages of any kind arising out of use, reference to, reliance on, or performance of such information.