New  PHR and SPHR Exams for HR Professionals Will Have Greater HR Emphasis on Employee Experience and Data-Driven Business Decisions

Learn more about the changes ahead. Read More.

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When Do Exam Changes Take Effect?

PHR and SPHR exams based on the new exam content outlines will be effective August 1, 2018.

Will Eligibility Requirements Change?

No, the updates to the PHR and SPHR exam content outlines will not change the eligibility requirements for each exam. 

How Do I Know Which Exam to Take?

That depends on you, and your HR experience. Please refer to the eligibility criteria as well as the new PHR and SPHR exam content outlines for details about what each exam covers. Select the exam that most closely aligns with your practice-based experience. The PHR is for professional-level HR practitioners and the SPHR is for senior-level HR leaders. 

What Should I Do If I Want to Earn a PHR or SPHR Certification in 2018?

Compare your HR experience to the 2017 combined PHR/SPHR Exam Content Outline as well as the separate 2018 PHR Exam Content Outline and 2018 SPHR Exam Content Outline. If you want to take the PHR or SPHR exam before the new exam content outlines take effect, be sure to apply for and schedule your exam well before August 1 to allow for any last-minute emergencies that may require you to change your testing date. To take the new PHR or SPHR exam, schedule your exam date on or after August 1.

What Does This Change Mean For Those Who Earned a PHR and an SPHR Under the Combined PHR/SPHR Exam Content Outline?

If you earn or earned a PHR and later earned an SPHR prior to August 1, 2018, you may only use the SPHR designation because the exams shared the same exam content outline during that time. 

However, starting August 1, 2018:

  • If you hold a PHR in good standing prior to August 1, 2018, and you earn an SPHR on or after August 1, 2018, you may use both credentials; and
  • If you earn both the PHR and SPHR on or after August 1, 2018, you may use both credentials.

Read More FAQs

New PHR Exam Topics

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How Will the PHR Exam Content Outline Change?

Instead of six sections, the 2018 PHR Exam Content Outline will have five sections with new section names and weightings. The new PHR emphasizes the HR professional's role in business management, and employee and labor relations. Risk management remains important even though the responsibilities will now fall under the employee and labor relations heading. The changes reflect current HR practices and terminology.

New SPHR Exam Topics

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How Will the SPHR Exam Content Outline Change?

Instead of six sections, the 2018 SPHR Exam Content Outline will have five sections with new section names and weightings. The new SPHR emphasizes the senior HR professional’s role in leadership and strategy, as well as employee relations and engagement. Risk management remains important and is found under the employee relations and engagement section. This section also includes employee performance, labor strategies, and diversity and inclusion.