Frequently Asked Questions

Certification & Eligibility


A professional HR position refers to an individual explicitly engaged and qualified within various aspects of the HR practice. Your level of actual work, experience and responsibilities make you accountable for day-to-day HR activities, practices and deliverables. To be considered “professional-level,” an HR position must include:

  • The ability to use independent judgment and discretion in performing work duties.
  • A level of specialized knowledge in the HR field with some authority for decision-making.
  • In-depth work requirements, such as data gathering, analysis and interpretation.
  • Interaction with a broad range of individuals, including key personnel.
  • Individual accountability for results.


You can now apply year-round for the aPHR™, aPHRi™, PHR®, PHRca®, PHRi™, SPHR®, SPHRi™, and GPHR® exams. Visit the HRCI Exam Fees page for more information about the cost of the examination. Good luck as you take the first steps toward earning an HRCI certification!




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



You do not have to have an HR degree to be eligible to take the HRCI exams. However, because the exams are both experience- and knowledge-based, your specific area of study can make a difference in your exam performance.



Each HRCI certification has specific eligibility requirements based on your education, responsibilities and professional-level work experiences in a professional HR setting. No prior HR work history is required to earn the aPHR or aPHRi, but all other HRCI certifications require work experience.

Certification Exam Preparation


Once you apply and receive your unique HRCI 9-digit testing ID, you may search for the nearest testing location by viewing the Pearson VUE website at Please note exam locations may be subject to change. Please check directly with Pearson VUE to ensure you have the most up-to-date location and availability here.


HRCI exams contain a variety of item types, including scenarios, which require you to use your HR experience to select the best answer. Most are four-option multiple-choice items. Each question counts the same. There is no partial credit.

Each exam includes scored questions and pre-test questions randomly distributed throughout the exam. Pre-test questions are not counted in the final results.


You are encouraged to use a variety of study methods while preparing for the exam. In fact, candidates who use multiple preparation resources tend to be more successful. While we do not endorse any particular preparation resource, we offer a number of preparation tools for purchase that fit a variety of learning styles and methods. Learn more about the preparation bundles and other preparation resources.


Each exam covers a specific Exam Content Outline, which is the document or description of the complete set of concepts, tasks and knowledge required to successfully understand and perform HR-related duties associated with each specific credential that HRCI offers.


HRCI does not determine the passing score arbitrarily. We use the statistical Angoff method to decide how many questions you must answer correctly to pass the exam. For more information on this method, please review the HRCI Certification Policies and Procedures Handbook.

HR Body of Knowledge (HRBoK)


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.


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  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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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


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.

Application Audits


To ensure compliance with the audit, you will need to provide supporting documentation. All supporting documents should be submitted at the same time, within 14 days. Supporting documents include:

  • Official job description on company letterhead for each job listed on the exam application.
  • Copy of your degree or diploma or official transcript, if applicable.
  • Employment law document (SPHRi only).
  • Completed and signed Exam Application Audit Form.


HRCI randomly audits a portion of applicants to ensure the integrity of the certification process. To maintain accreditation standards as set forth by the National Commission for Certifying Agencies (NCCA), random audits are required. HRCI is the only certification body with accredited credentials for HR professionals.



You will receive an email from the audit review committee once your audit documents have been reviewed



Your application may be audited. HRCI audits a percentage of all applicants to verify the accuracy of the information submitted and to ensure the integrity of our exams and the certifications awarded.

Exam Changes & Refunds


You can reschedule your exam appointment up to three business days before your original appointment. To reschedule your exam appointment online, contact Pearson VUE at Pearson VUE charges a rescheduling fee of $150 USD.



Once an exam application is approved, no refunds will be made if a candidate no longer wishes to take the exam, however, you can choose to extend your eligibility expiration date. For more detailed information, please review the HRCI Certification Policies and Procedures Handbook.


If you are deemed ineligible, you can choose to receive a voucher to sit for a lower level exam or you can receive a refund of the exam fee less a $100 USD processing fee.


Certification Delivery


Once you complete an exam, you will receive your results at the testing center. Within 24-48 hours, Pearson VUE will send an e-mail on how to view and print your official exam score report .


You can purchase a paper certificate through our online store. If you are in the United States, certificate delivery with tracking is $50 USD. If you live outside the U.S., certificate delivery with tracking is $65 USD.


HRCI will send you an e-mail with information on how to claim your HRCI digital badge which you can find on your HRCI online profile. Your digital badge will allow you to provide a secure verification of your credentials on social media sites, in your email signature and other digital spaces.



A certain percentage of recertification applications are randomly selected for audit upon submission. If you are selected for our audit, you will be notified immediately when you submit your recertification application for review.


For more detailed steps on how to submit your recertification audit documents, please review the 2021 HRCI Recertification Handbook.



HRCI randomly audits exam applications and recertification submissions to meet the rigorous accreditation standards of the National Commission for Certifying Agencies (NCCA). This is one of the many ways you can be sure that your certification meets the highest standards of quality and integrity. It is why HRCI certifications are the most trusted and recognized by HR professionals and the organizations they serve.



HRCI recertification requirements are flexible so you can fit them into your busy schedule, including on-the-job experience. There are also many low-cost and no-cost continuous learning options that you can take advantage of to earn recertification credits. Recertification benefits you, as an HR professional. As an HRCI certification holder, you demonstrate that you remain on the cutting edge by earning and reporting recertification credits every three years through pre-approved seminars, online materials, webinars, books, online courses, and conferences.


In addition to many free and low-cost ways to recertify, including on-the-job experience, you can search the HRCI Pre-Approved Activity Directory for pre-approved continuous learning opportunities, including in-person and online options. You can find programs that are right for you based on credit type, event type and location.



It depends on which certification you have earned:

  • For the aPHR and aPHRi, you need to earn 45 HR (General) recertification credits.
  • For the PHR and PHRi, you need to earn 60 HR (General) recertification credits.
  • For the PHRca, you need to earn a total of 60 recertification credits, with at least 15 of those as California credit.
  • For the SPHR and SPHRi, you need to earn a total of 60 recertification credits, with at least 15 of those as Business credit.
  • For the GPHR, you need to earn a total of 60 recertification credits, with at least 15 of those as Global credit.

Visit the Recertification page for more information.