Are The PHR and SPHR Sugarcoating or Career Sweeteners? A Sneak Peek of New PayScale Research

Sneak Peek: The Market Value of PHR and SPHR Certifications from

Laleh Hassibi, PayScale

Next week at SHRM 2013, PayScale will release a report showing the impact of human resources certification on annual salaries and career progression. Entitled “The Value of PHR and SPHR Certifications:  Sugar Coating or Career Sweetener?”  This year’s study also compared salaries across positions, industries, geographic location, genders to get the complete picture of the impact of the PHR and SPHR certifications on HR careers. A sneak preview of the report’s highlights are above.

Come back June 17th to be one of the first to see the infographic, find your city on the interactive map and download the complete research report.

Editors note: the full report, interactive map and infographic are now available! 


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  1. 1

    A previous study was conducted on this topic last year by Lyons, entitled “A reexamination of the web-based job demand for PHR and SPHR certifications in the United States.” The authors showed relationships between HR certification demand and industry, pay, job level, and a few other variables. I’m interested to see how the results stack up against each other from payscale’s research.

  2. 2

    I must say that although the report is somewhat interesting from an individual consumer standpoint, it fails to outline the organizational impacts or the individual performance variations that a PHR or SPHR certification brings.

    I hardly see any relevant “benefits” in reading this
    report. It is clearly a marketing tool for the certification. For those who have conducted the study, you should be aware although the training requirements to take the exam is somewhat comprehensive, a PHR or SPHR certification is not nearly as critical as a bachelor’s degree business or related field and should not be considered relevant to benchmark for performance or knowledge within the human capital field (especially in the legal, training, workforce performance metrics, and benefits administration areas). Are the PHR or SPHR holders more “capable” of performing their jobs or just simply complying with a status-quo certification standard?

    Many certified professionals do not hold a 4-year degree
    and are allowed to be certified by years of experience only (which not always reflect the HR capabilities the PHR or SPHR certification actually “certifies”). Hence, estimating performance, or in this case making a salary benchmark basing on this certification is a great mistake and disrespect to the time of the human capital community and to anyone who is interested in entering the field.

    I will be very much intersected in reading the full
    correlational field research conducted, the demographics of the PHR and SPHR professionals within it, and the organizational and individual performance variations caused by the certification or lack thereof to fully respect the validity of these findings.

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