If there’s one thing I’ve learned over the years, it’s that HR/benefits professionals do not mess around when it comes to their certifications.

Truly, this industry is the most credentialed group I’ve ever met; I commend you on your commitment to continued education and the advancement of your profession.

That commitment is how I know you’ll want to be up-to-date on the changes the HR Certification Institute is making to its exam eligibility requirements.

Starting in 2011, Candidates seeking a PHR, SPHR or GPHR certification will be required to demonstrate increased educational levels and years of practical experience in order to be eligible to take the certification exams.

"After considerable input from certificants, business leaders and HR professionals, the eligibility requirements were tightened to better reflect the increased responsibility of today’s HR professional," says Mary E. Power, CAE, executive director of HRCI.

Here’s the breakdown on the new eligibility requirements:

* PHR — a minimum of four years of demonstrated professional (exempt-level) HR experience with less than a Bachelor’s degree; minimum of two years of demonstrated professional (exempt-level) HR experience with a Bachelor’s degree; or one year of demonstrated professional (exempt-level) HR experience with a Master’s degree or higher.

* SPHR — a minimum of seven years of demonstrated professional, exempt-level HR experience with less than a Bachelor’s degree; minimum of five years of demonstrated professional (exempt-level) HR experience with a Bachelor’s degree; or minimum of four years of demonstrated professional, exempt-level HR experience with a Master’s degree or higher.

* GPHR — a minimum of four years of demonstrated professional, exempt-level HR experience (two of the four years must be in global HR) with less than a Bachelor’s degree; minimum of three years of demonstrated professional, exempt-level HR experience (with two of the three years in global HR) with a Bachelor’s degree; or minimum of two years of demonstrated global professional, exempt-level HR experience with a Master’s degree or higher.

Students without demonstrated professional experience will not be eligible to sit for the certification exams until they have the required level of professional work experience for their education level.

Current certified HR professionals who would like to recertify in 2011 or after must meet the new eligibility requirements to take the exam, even if they are eligible under current standards.

Pros who want to test under current eligibility requirements have until Oct. 8 to sign up before $50 late fees apply.  Late registration will be open from Oct. 9 through Nov. 12.

Any of you out there currently prepping for certification/recertification? Do the exam eligibility changes make/break your decision to test this year or next? Share your thoughts in the comments.

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