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Human Resources Certification

What is Certification?

Certification is a voluntary action to grant recognition to professionals who have met a comprehensive level of training and work experience. Certified individuals are issued a certificate attesting that they have met the professionals standards of the credentialing organization (HRCI) and are entitled to make the public aware of their credentialed status, usually through the use of initials (e.g., PHR or SPHR) after their names. SHRM and its affiliates strongly support professional certification. HRCI (Human Resource Certification Institute) offers three certifications for HR professionals:

  • PHR® (Professional in Human Resources)
  • SPHR® (Senior Professional in Human Resources)
  • GPHR® (Global Professional in Human Resources)

(HRCI now also offers state-specific certifications for California, PHR-CA and SPHR-CA.)

Certification Prep Courses in Maine

The online section is offered during the fall semesters in a live instructor-led course format. Each week, Instructor Jessica Palladino, SPHR, guides the students through the materials. Students participate from their homes or offices online at their computers through Adobe Connect. They are able to electronically raise their hands, chat, and talk with their fellow students and the instructor. All participants are supplied with a headset and microphone (included in course fee) to communicate.

Fall 2013’s online class had a 100% pass rate on the certification exam!

The class meets online together once per week for 11 weeks. Course fee includes SHRM Learning System materials (book and online access to practice tests).  Fall 2014 dates will be available in June.

For those interested in meeting face-to-face, onsite sections of the PHR/SPHR Certification Prep Course are offered each semester on the USM Portland Campus by Instructors Kris Avery, SPHR, and Jessica Palladino, SPHR.

Learn more about this program by visiting the USM website.

USM Contact Information Univeristy of Southern Maine, Portland
Professional & Continuing Education

Ph: 207-280-5900

Why is Certification Desirable?

Certification sets those with the credential apart–or above–those without it. There are a number of advantages to seeking certification.

Certification becomes a public recognition of professional achievement, both within and outside of the profession. For many, achieving certification becomes a personal professional goal---a way to test knowledge and to measure it against one’s peers. Others see certification as an aid to career advancement.

Purpose and Use of Certification

PHR, SPHR and GPHR certification shows that the holder has demonstrated mastery of the domestic or international HR body of knowledge and, through recertification, has accepted the challenge to stay informed of latest developments in the HR field.

The HRCI exams are completely voluntary. Organizations incorporating PHR, SPHR or GPHR certification as a condition of employment or advancement do so of their own volition. Individuals should determine for themselves whether the use of this process, including eligibility and recertification requirements, meets their needs and complies with any applicable laws.

The PHR, SPHR and GPHR designations are a visible reminder to peers and co-workers of the holder’s significant professional achievement. PHR-, SPHR- and GPHR-certified professionals should proudly display their certificates and use the credentials on business correspondence.

Updated information on the  Certification Policies and Procedures, Qualifications to Test and Certification Exam Topics can be found online at the HRCI website.

Exam Preparation

Whether you select to self-study, create a study group or take an HR Certification preparation course, select the method that will ensure your success. There are numerous resources to assist you in the PHR/SPHR exam preparation.

Exam schedules  and deadlines are available on the HRCI site.

Fees vary for SHRM members and non-SHRM members. A $75 late fee added if application is not received by regular deadline.

Exam Preparation Resources

HR Certification Institute
Everything you need to know and more about human resources certification.

Society for Human Resources Website
Great articles and materials to supplement the text. SHRM offers the comprehensive SHRM Learning System as a resource to prepare for the HR exam. Your ME State Council can get a special discount with group purchases.

Preparation Books:

  • HR Certification Institution Handbook available in the SHRM bookstore for $25 SHRM Member price and $29.99 non member price
  • Certification Guide by Raymond Weinberg (2005). ISBN: 1-58644-064-0. Alexandria, VA: HRCI.
  • Professional in HR Certification Study Guide by Ann Bogardus ( 2003). ISBN: 0-7821-4252-4. Sybex Publishing.
  • PHR Exam Prep by Cathy Lee Gibson. (2006). ISBN: 0-7897-3450-8. Que Publishing.
  • SPHR Exam Prep by Larry Phillips. (2006). ISBN: 0-7897-3497-4. Que Publishing.

Text Books:

  • Human Resources Management by Robert Mathis and John Jackson (2006). ISBN: 0-324-28959-6. Mason, OH: South-Western/Thomson Corporation.


Maine State HR Certification Contact

Chanterelle Atkins, PHR
Compass Health Analytics, Inc.
254 Commercial Street, 2nd Floor
Portland, ME 04101
Tel:  (207) 523-8659