What’s the Difference Between the aPHR and the PHR?

What’s the Difference Between the aPHR and the PHR?

What is the aPHR? 

The Associate Professional in Human Resources (aPHR) is a certification created for people who are just starting out in the human resources industry. No HR experience is required since the aPHR is a knowledge-based credential. It is a great jumping-off point for your HR career or if you simply have an interest in learning more about human resources. This is an entry-level HR certification through HRCI.

What is the PHR? 

PHR stands for Professional in Human Resources. The PHR is for the HR professional who is experienced with program implementation, has a tactical or logistical orientation, is responsible for other HR professionals within the organization, and has obligations specifically to the HR department rather than the whole organization.

What is the Difference Between the aPHR and the PHR? 

One of the primary differences between aPHR and PHR certifications is the amount of experience required. Whereas aPHR is designed for entry-level HR professionals, PHR is intended for seasoned HR professionals with at least two years of experience.

Another notable contrast between aPHR and PHR is the subject of the exam. The aPHR exam mainly includes fundamental HR knowledge and skills, in contrast to the PHR test, which also covers more complex topics including strategic HR management and labor relations.

Frequently Asked Questions About HR Certification

What is a passing exam score with HRCI and SHRM? 

A passing score with SHRM for their SHRM-CP and SHRM-SCP exams is 200. A passing score with HRCI for their aPHR, PHR, and SPHR exams is 500. Both use weighted scoring meaning that every test question is worth an unknown and different number of points for getting the correct answer. There is only one correct answer per exam question. 

What is the average HR certification exam pass rate for your course? 

Our average pass rate for our Ace the HR Exam with Workology is 95% – meaning that 95% of students who complete our course pass their exam. This includes exams for HR certifications with SHRM and HRCI including the aPHR, PHR, SPHR, SHRM-CP, and SHRM-SCP exams.

How many hours do I need to study to pass my HR certification exam? 

How many hours you need to study depends on your exam type whether it be the aPHR, PHR, SPHR, SHRM-CP, or SHRM-SCP exams. The aPHR with HRCI averages 20-40 hours of review. The PHR with HRCI averages 40-60 hours of review. The SPHR with HRCI averages 60-80 hours of review. The SHRM-CP with SHRM averages 80-100 hours of review. The SHRM-SCP with SHRM averages 80-100 hours of review.

Workology’s Ace the HR Exam program allows you to customize your review based on your unique needs!

What is the best HR certification prep course for HRCI and SHRM?

The best HR management certification preparation course depends on your needs. For example, if you are an individual looking for an on-demand HR certification exam developed by an HR professional with over 20 years of experience, Workology’s Ace the HR Exam course is a great choice for you. We recommend it because it provides a custom and comprehensive exam review for HR certification exams including the aPHR, PHR, SPHR, SHRM-CP, and SHRM-SCP exams. 

Is an HR certification worth it?

HR certification with SHRM or HRCI offers lots of benefits for HR leaders. Obtaining your HR certification will help you in increasing your income in your current role and in obtaining promotions in as little as 6 months. 

According to a study from PayScale.com, those who earn HR certification make $10,000 or more per year every year and get promoted 14% faster than their non-certified HR peers.

How much does it cost?


Exam Fee: $395

Application Fee: $100


Exam Fee: $300

Application Fee: $100

What is the passing rate? 

The PHR exam pass rate is 65% while the aPHR has an 84% pass rate. Learn more about passing rates here

How many hours should I study? 

We recommend at least 12 weeks of studying 3-7 hours a week.

What study materials do you recommend for the aPHR and PHR?

Our most robust offering is our comprehensive Ace the HR Exam Suite which includes digital and on-demand resources for all types of learners who are preparing for the PHR and aPHR Exams.

When is the testing window for the aPHR and PHR?

Once you complete the aPHR exam application and are approved, you must schedule your exam within 180 days. The certification exam can be taken remotely via a proctor or in person at a testing center.

Testing periods for the PHR exam are normally available in January, March, May, July, September, and November. It’s crucial to remember that the precise testing times and windows may change depending on the location and testing facility availability.

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Jessica Miller-Merrell

Jessica Miller-Merrell is the founder of Workology, a digital resource that reaches more than a half million HR and workplace leaders each month and host of the Workology Podcast. Jessica lives in Austin, TX, with her husband, daughter, and an assortment of furry family members.

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