Recertifying Your PHR or SPHR Credentials

By Sandra M. Reed

Part of PHR/SPHR Exam For Dummies Cheat Sheet

After you receive your PHR or SPHR certification (which means you passed the PHR or SPHR Exam), your work isn’t finished. You’re required to keep up your certification. You’re granted three years to earn the 60 recertification credit hours necessary to maintain your credential, so it’s never too early to begin thinking about the process. Each certification credit is worth 1 hour of an approved activity. Log in to your HRCI account and get familiar with how to log activities in your profile. A few limits cap the amount of recertification credits that you can earn. Following is a list of the different types of activities that earn you recertification credits, along with a short description and maximum number of hours allowed:

  • Continuing education (CEU): You may earn recertification credits by taking formal or informal classes that inform you of relevant issues in HR today. The classes may include taking business courses at the local junior college, participating in a webinar, completing an eLearning course, or attending conferences. CEUs have no maximum, so you could conceivably earn all 60 credits by this activity.

  • Instruction: Teaching or training an HR related topic is an excellent way to jump-start your recertification process. It maxes out at 20 credits, which translates into 20 hours in the classroom. Over a three-year period, that’s 6.5 hours per year. Not too difficult, depending on your role at work.

  • On-the-job experience: Also capped at 20 hours, on-the-job training consists of activities that you do in your day-to-day work. It may include creating a company handbook or putting together an HR budget. Note that these credit hours will be approved only if it’s a new job responsibility, which HRCI classifies as first-time work experience.

  • Research/Publishing: Also at the 20 hours maximum is research and publishing. Activities in this category include writing an HR fact-based blog or co-authoring an HR text. Consider also writing an article for your local HR association’s newsletter.

  • HR leadership roles: Leadership is an important part of the evolution of the HR professional, so HRCI awards up to 10 hours in the leadership category. These hours may be approved for recertification credits if you take on a leadership role within the HR community outside of your organization. This may include participating in lobbying efforts, chairing a committee, or sitting on the board of your local HR association.

  • Professional membership: Probably the easiest 10 hours you can earn is in this category of professional membership. Note however that your membership must be on a national (not local) scale in order to be counted. Three credit hours are awarded for a year of membership.

As with all things PHR or SPHR related, the best resource for questions in HRCI, which has an excellent free publication titled “Recertification Handbook” that you may download. This handbook goes into rich detail of the ways to select recertification activities and examples of what will be approved so you can avoid surprises when it’s time to renew.

Don’t wait until your certification is about to expire to try and organize/log your credit hours. Calendar it for the first of each month to jump online and log your activities for the month. This way, when it’s time to recertify, your application will be near completion. If that’s too daunting, send yourself an email with the relevant information and store it in a digital folder. This way all the certificates or classroom information is all housed in one folder for easy access when it’s time to recertify. Of course, if keeping track of your recertification credits seems like too much, you could always recertify by taking the exam again.

Recertification activities don’t necessarily have to be preapproved programs. Although inconvenient, you may alternatively upload the details of a specific program, job, or training activity with a description and documentation robust enough to withstand future scrutiny should the activity be audited.