Understanding Professional Level Experience


What is the definition of "Professional-Level" experience?

Eligible candidates are those who have acquired

  • The minimum years of a professional-level HR work experience; AND
  • The required education level for the specific HRCI certification they wish to earn. Those with a college degree are not required to have a degree in HR.

HRCI defines a "professional-level" HR position as one that includes:

If a candidate holds a job title not shown on the approved list of job titles they must have the minimum years of experience in a position that:

HRCI defines a “professional-level” HR position as one that includes:

  • the ability to use independent judgment and discretion in performing work duties;
  • some authority for decision-making;
  • in-depth work requirements, such as data gathering, analysis and interpretation;
  • interaction with people at multiple levels including decision-makers; and
  • individual accountability for results.

Our exams measure HR experience and knowledge gained on-the-job and through formal education. Individuals who are not likely to be considered eligible include:

  • people managers whose main job is in a function other than HR 
  • entry-level HR practitioners (i.e. HR clerks or HR assistants) or 
  • those interested in transitioning into the HR profession.

Eligibility is not a guarantee of success on an HRCI exam. Candidates must demonstrate in-depth knowledge and application of HR practices in order to earn certification.

What is the difference between an HR role and a Leader's role?

Every supervisor or leader performs certain HR-related tasks, such as training, performance management, discipline and hiring, as part of their job. HR professionals are responsible for HR-related tasks for an organization or division. HR professionals spend most of their work time on HR-related tasks. Leaders spend a small part of their jobs on HR tasks and most of their time on their main job function. 

Most leaders will not be eligible for the PHR or SPHR exam.

How is "Global HR experience" defined?

Global HR experience is defined as having direct cross-border HR responsibilities for two or more countries or regions.

Still have questions?

Please visit our common questions section for FAQ on HR certification, eligibility requirements, and the exam application process.