HRCI Recertification: Yes, I’m $100 Poorer, But It’s All Good

It’s that time of the year again!

No, I’m not talking about firecrackers, backyard barbecues, and patriotic speech time (aka July 4th). I’m talking about recertification time, people! Three years have passed far too quickly, and I must now (literally) pay the piper.

Here are a few thoughts I had while completing my SPHR recertification application:

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  • I’m pretty sure SHRM knows that the only reason I pay my annual membership fee is for the 10 HRCI credit hours I’ll receive. As it happens, it’s also time to renew my membership, and for the life of me, I can’t think of any other reason to pay SHRM $180 of my well-earned money. I can access most of the articles I want on the website for free and I’ve never attended the annual conference, so I don’t care too much about any discount there (although maybe I’ll go next year to meet some of the nice folks I’ve encountered while writing for TLNT), and frankly, SHRM is not the only game in town for good HR information—not even (hint). However, I do appreciate those 10 HRCI credits. It’s less work for me all the way around, and I can get into that.
  • I’m glad that HRCI recognizes blog posts as an acceptable publishing venture, but I’m a little put out by this caveat:Posts must contain facts/data and not be an editorial or opinion piece.” Seriously? I guess the drier the better, huh? We can call it “academic” and all go home happy. I happen to think that with 25 years of work experience, my opinions about the workplace actually count for something, but who cares what I think, right? Certainly not HRCI.
  • Is there any HR professional who goes through this process and can reference any activity that didn’t occur in the last 18 months?  Every time I recertify (and this is the third time), I can’t remember anything that occurred in the first 18 months of the new recertification period, even with the assistance of the handy-dandy HRCI online services database. (I don’t know whose idea that was by the way, but thank you.)
  • I get that HRCI is giving HR professionals incentive to be well rounded, but I’ve always been puzzled why a little more credit isn’t given for on-the-job experience. Right now the maximum credit allowance is 20 hours, which is a third of the overall 60 credit hours needed for SPHR recertification. I understand the whole “be a part of the elite network of HR professionals, blah, blah, blah” thing, but come on, HRCI! Some of this just seems aspirational for aspiration’s sake. You can be an exemplary member of the profession by simply doing your job well. That’s what I think, anyway. Oh right. HRCI doesn’t give a fig what I think.
  • Even though I’m seeing more and more job postings requiring certification, I’m all but certain (based on the complaints I hear in the field) that far too many of these employers don’t have a clue what certification entails nor do they really care to draw on all their HR professional’s expertise.

Still, I’m proud to have earned my SPHR title. Seriously. It’s an honest-to-goodness achievement, and I don’t regret the cost or the time or the effort I expended to get it — even if no one else seems to care but HRCI, SHRM, and me.

Crystal Spraggins, SPHR, is an HR consultant and freelance writer who lives in Philadelphia. She also writes at her blog, HR BlogVOCATE. For the past 15 years, Crystal has focused on building HR departments in small- to mid-sized companies under the philosophy that "HR is not for wimps." She is also the CEO and Founder of Work It Out! and partners with HRCVision, a full-service HR consultant practice specializing in leadership and diversity training. Contact her at


16 Comments on “HRCI Recertification: Yes, I’m $100 Poorer, But It’s All Good

  1. As I read it, I found myself thinking again and again, “I agree; I agree, she has that spot on; makes sense” and so on. You get the point and said it well. I am recertifying right now too as an SPHR and thinking all the same things you wrote about.

    1. ” I am recertifying right now too as an SPHR and thinking all the same things you wrote about.”

      It’s funny how that happens, huh? Good luck to you, Terina!

  2. I just passed the SPHR in June. I’m motivated to keep on top of credits because I don’t ever want to take that test again! Let’s hope I keep this motivation for the next three years!

  3. Danna and Erin, I’m definitely with you two as well. No more tests for me either. They can have that!

  4. I can certainly appreciate the topic and comments on this subject given I just failed the PHR exam. I took a prep course and studied and studied while using the e-learning system. SHRM/HRCI truly complicate this process and exam moreso for profit than to broaden the knowledge and skill set for HR professionals. I’ve been in talks with many who have their PHR/SPHR and many who did not acheive it the first time around including my instructor.. I truly intend on taking the exam again for my own gratification and use toward continuing education.

  5. Hi Sharon. So sorry to hear that you didn’t pass the exam. It is a tough exam. When I decided to sit, I’d already been warned by a relative that I shouldn’t think about taking the test without preparation, and honestly I was a little surprised when she said that, but I quickly came around to her way of thinking!

    But here’s what I really wanted to tell you. I sat for the SPHR for two reasons–one, I knew I’d want that credential eventually, and two, I found that for the way MY mind works, the SPHR questions were actually easier. I honestly doubt I’d have passed the PHR test, because I can’t be bothered memorizing crap that any real pro is going to LOOK UP while doing the job–nobody keeps all this stuff in her head! Over the years a lot gets crammed in there, and I can rattle off all kinds of stuff, but not everything. It’s more important to know WHEN to search for answers and WHERE to find them. If you’re the same way, think about the SPHR next time. My teacher (now a good friend, actually) tried to persuade me to take the PHR first, and I said, nope, and I’m glad I did! Just a thought.

  6. you have mention that ‘SHRM is not the only game in town for good HR information’ can we have more information about the other resources…

    1. Certainly! TLNT is a good site for starters, but there’s Harvard Business Review, Forbes, Business Insider, Fair Measures, and the list goes on and on, depending on what you’re seeking. Also, many of us TLNT writers have blogs, and they’re not too shabby, if I don’t say so myself.

  7. Have they always charged so much? I originally certfied in 2001 and don’t recall getting held up at gunpoint before. Seriously making me reconsider my certification.

  8. HRCI and SHRM make a lot of money from the tests and credits and employers don’t require it

    I am SPHR and it’s really not a big deal. It is all about the $$.

  9. SHRM and their “affiliate” HRCI have done an exceptional job of making certification the holy grail of human resources. Some of it is the desire to feed the egos of the execs, but most is money, money, money. As time goes on I meet more and more HR “professionals” with the coveted “initials” after their name who are clueless about good human resources or business practice. Don’t believe that? Read any of the blogs. The questions are from Venus and the responses are from Mars. Anytime a newcomer can cram for a few weeks and become a “certified HR professional” the process is flawed. However, I understand how many certified people want to perpetuate the myth so they don’t have to admit their mega dollar myth. BTW – I am SPHR, so have been through the game.

  10. You are a trip! So refreshing to read this! Today I submitted for my recert for PHR. It’s so nerving to hit “submit”. Now lets hope they approve me sometime in the next 4-8 weeks 🙂

  11. Just reading this makes me nervous. I became certified in January and have earned 5 credits thus far and must say I’m already feeling the anxiety of recertification.

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