The SPHR Test Guide

The SPHR Test Summary
What: This exam grants certification for senior professionals in the field of Human Resources.
Who: Candidates must have at least two years experience in Human Resources.
Where: The test is offered at Prometric testing centers worldwide.
When: May 1-June 30 and Dec. 1-Jan 30
How: The exam is multiple choice.
Type: The exam is computer-based.
Why: The exam is required for Human Resources senior professionals to become certified.
Time: Exam sessions last four hours.
Language: English
Preparation: Many test guides and preparation materials are available online and at bookstores.
Cost: The exam carries a $300 registration fee.

By: Pamela Jordan, Tests.com Contributing Writer





Every year more and more professionals become certified in Human Resources. Not only does certification prove your worth to an organization, but it also demonstrates the knowledge you have acquired during your years of hard work in the field. Over 108,000 professionals have now become certified.


The HRCI, or the Human Resources Certification Institute, prides itself in pushing HR professionals to prove their skills by taking the certification exam. The HRCI offers four degrees of certification:

     -     Professional in Human Resources (PHR)

     -     Senior Professional in Human Resources (SPHR)

     -     Global Professional in Human Resources (GPHR)

     -     California Certification (PHR-CA and SPHR-CA)


The level of experience and amount of field time a professional has achieved helps to determine which exam is better suited for them. The Senior Professional in Human Resources is someone who usually has six to eight years of HR experience, has knowledge of the entire company beyond HR, has final accountability in their department and is someone who designs and plans HR policy beyond just executing it. 




The SPHR exam is divided into six segments:

     -     Strategic Management (29%)

     -     Workforce Planning and Employment (17%)

     -     Human Resource Development (17%)

     -    Total Rewards (12%)

     -     Employee and Labor Relations (18%)

     -     Risk Management (7%) 


The exam is comprised of 225 multiple choice questions, 200 of which are graded and 25 “pretest” questions that are sporadically placed throughout the exam and used for the development of future exams. The exam lasts four hours and is taken on a computer. Once the exam is finished, it will be scored on a scale from 100-700 with 700 being a perfect score. A score of 500 of higher is passing.


The exam is administered by the company Prometric, which has over 380 testing facilities throughout the United States, Canada and some international locations. If you would like to take the exam outside of the United States visit www.prometric.com/hrci for available locations.   


The SPHR is given twice a year during the two testing periods, typically May 1-June 30 and Dec. 1 -Jan. 31. It is important to apply early to ensure your application is registered and to pick your choice of exam time, date, and location. There are two ways to apply for the SPHR. The fastest and most efficient way is by applying online at the HRCI’s website, but you can also print out the application and send it via mail to the HRCI. When applying you will need to fill out the following:

     -     Email address

     -     Full name as it appears on your ID

     -     Mailing address

     -     Demographic information

     -     ID number- if you apply online this will be given to you. If you apply via mail it will arrive within 10 business days.

     -    Qualifying HR work experience- you must have at least two years of HR experience to take the exam

     -     SHRM member number (if applicable)

     -     Felony Conviction Statement

     -     Application fee payment- $300 registration fee

It is recommended that professionals come fully prepared to the examination. For practice questions visit the HRCI’s website. Practice books are also available at bookstores for purchase.


To find test preparation materials, see our SPHR Test Directory.