Should you get HR Certified as an aPHR? Your Guide to HR Certification

Should you get HR Certified as an aPHR?

Your Guide to HR Certification

Interview with Dr. Thelá R. Thatch, PHR, SHRM-CP 

Woman studying at a table

Which HR certification should I get?

If you’re asking this question, you’re not alone. Today we’re exploring the aPHR certification specifically in more depth, which is a great certification option for those who don’t quality for the PHR yet. 

What are the different HR Certifications? 

HRCI and SHRM are the two main HR certifying bodies recognized in the industry.  

The most common HRCI certifications include:

  • PHR – Professional in Human Resources
  • SPHR – Senior Professional in Human Resources
  • PHRca – Professional in Human Resources in California
  • GPHR – Global Professional in Human Resources
  • aPHR – Associate Professional in Human Resources
    • The aPHR certification is tailored for entry-level HR professionals.


The most common SHRM certifications and micro-credentials include:

  • SHRM-CP – SHRM-Certified Professional
  • SHRM-SCP – SHRM-Senior Certified Professional

I don’t qualify yet for some HR certifications. What should I do?

Today, you can start by learning what the aPHR certification by HRCI is all about! You’ll also get to know instructor Dr. Thelá R. Thatch, whose aPHR prep class is starting on September 18, 2021.

All About the aPHR Certification

Meet the aPHR

According to HRCI, the “Associate Professional in Human Resources® (aPHR®) is the perfect certification to help fast-track your career growth and provide you with the confidence to launch into the HR profession. The aPHR is the first-ever HR certification designed for professionals who are just beginning their HR career journey and proves your knowledge of foundational Human Resources.” A study published by PayScale in 2018 showed that only 13.2 percent of HR administrators have at least one HR credential. Professionals who earn their aPHR certification stand out from their peers!

The aPHR exam content consists of:

  • 38% HR Operations
  • 16% Employee Relations
  • 15% Recruitment and Selection
  • 14% Compensation and Benefits
  • 12% HR Development and Retention
  • 5% Health, Safety and Security   

Learn more about the aPHR exam here.

The upcoming aPHR prep course is led by instructor Dr. Thelá R. Thatch, PHR, SHRM-CP.  

Dr. Thelá R. Thatch Headshot, aPHR prep course instructorDr. Thelá R. Thatch, PHR, SHRM-CP leads diversity, equity, and inclusion at Paychex as the organization’s DEI Manager. Formerly an HR Coach at Paychex supporting HR Generalists on a wide range of business and HR issues in a variety of industries, Thelá has more than two decades of experience in human resources, talent management, organizational development, and diversity and inclusion initiatives. Prior to joining Paychex, she served as an executive consultant to the Los Angeles County Department of Health Services where she developed a human capital and workforce strategy to recruit and train individuals to provide services to the homeless and other vulnerable populations. Thelá also has experience as the Chief Diversity Officer for Live Nation Entertainment where she laid the foundation to implement the first diversity initiative within a global organization of more than 10,000 employees. Over the years, she has also worked with various Fortune 500 organizations such as UPS, Fox Television, Devro, ADC and Cablevision. Thelá is a published author of a children’s book titled “The Dog Chef” and has written shorter pieces for several publications. She graduated from Kean University with a BA in Communications, earned her MBA with a concentration in Human Resources at North Greenville University, and her MPhil from Walden University. Thelá holds a Ph.D. in public policy and administration with a law specialization from Walden University.

Dr. Thatch’s work has led HR professionals on the path toward certification and exam success. We’re grateful for her time to sit down with us (virtually) and answer a few questions for us about the aPHR!

Dr. Thatch, can you share a bit about your background as an HR instructor?

Dr. Thelá R. Thatch, PHR, SHRM-CP: I love to teach! In addition to instructing the aPHR course for PIHRA in the past, I have taught human resources at Strayer University. Also, while pursuing my Ph.D., I served as a graduate assistant helping doctoral students finish their dissertation journey. 

Why are you excited to teach the aPHR prep course this summer?

Dr. Thelá R. Thatch, PHR, SHRM-CP: I’m always excited to share what I have learned in over 25 years of human resources experience. I often think of teaching the aPHR as equipping the next wave of frontline HR practitioners to be prepared to represent the HR profession with integrity. I find that the aPHR student is excited and serious about how they can learn HR competencies that can be used to improve the organizational landscape of their company. That is exciting to me!

In your professional opinion, what value does the aPHR provide to a practitioner? How does the learning, studying, and/or testing experience compare to other courses or certs?

Dr. Thelá R. Thatch, PHR, SHRM-CP: In my opinion, the aPHR provides the tools and environment you need to become certified. Ultimately, the goal is to obtain your certification and to show the world that you are serious about the HR profession. Certification allows you to stand out from the crowd.

What can participants expect from this course and from this certification?

Dr. Thelá R. Thatch, PHR, SHRM-CP: As HRCI lists in the certification description, participants can expect to obtain a broad overview of the entire HR body of knowledge. No matter what role they are currently in, participants will learn how HR concepts and practices are influencing and impacting daily business decisions.

Who would you recommend sign up for this class?

Dr. Thelá R. Thatch, PHR, SHRM-CP: I would recommend people who are interested in employment law, hiring best practices, and understanding how human resources policy shapes their work environment sign up for this class.

What feedback have you received from HR professionals about the aPHR? How has this credential helped them professionally?

Dr. Thelá R. Thatch, PHR, SHRM-CP: First and foremost, I am always excited when participants reach out to let me know they have received their certification. As adult learners with busy schedules and so many life stresses, achieving certification is an amazing accomplishment and says a lot about the commitment to invest in one’s self. Most recently, I had one of my students move from a mid-level manager role to a C-suite role almost immediately after becoming certified. Now, that was impressive!

To be led by Dr. Thelá R. Thatch, sign up for PIHRA’s aPHR Prep Course!

Join a virtual cohort of HR professionals to study for the aPHR exam! Under Dr. Thatch’s instruction, you’ll cover exam materials during a four-week preparation course.

PIHRA’s HR Certification Prep Courses are always offered at competitively low rates. Additionally, HR professionals enjoy more hands-on instruction in PIHRA’s prep classes thanks to our exclusive class sizes. Furthermore, once you’re certified, you can always rely on PIHRA webinars, conferences, and programs for ongoing recertification credit opportunities. 

Learn more about our upcoming aPHR prep course!
Registration closes Friday, September 17, 2021 at 8:00pm.

Register Here for the SHRM California Law HR Specialty Credential





Lili Arguello