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Comparing the CHRP and CHRL Exams

Comparing the CHRP and CHRL Exams

If you’re looking to get certified in human resources in Ontario, you have two main options - the Certified Human Resources Professional (CHRP) designation or the Certified Human Resources Leader (CHRL) designation from the Human Resources Professionals Association (HRPA). Both certifications demonstrate your knowledge and competency in HR, but there are some key differences to be aware of.

Get your CHRP and CHRL Knowlege Exam for HRPA Exams Here

CHRP CHRL Eligibility

The main eligibility difference is experience level. To qualify for the CHRP exam, you need 2 years of progressive HR experience. For the CHRL, you need at least 7 years of progressive HR experience, with at least 3 years in a senior leadership role.

The CHRL is aimed at those with more advanced experience looking to validate their strategic HR competencies at a senior level. The CHRP is good for newer professionals or those not yet ready for the senior leadership focus of the CHRL.

Content Focus

The CHRP exam covers the core HR competencies and knowledge required of an HR generalist. Subject areas include compensation and benefits, HR planning and development, health and safety, employee and labor relations, and more.

The CHRL exam goes deeper into strategic topics like organizational development, change management, business strategy, and leadership. It evaluates your ability to think strategically and apply HR expertise at an executive level to drive organizational success.

Format and Delivery

Comparing the CHRP and CHRL Exams, Both exams are computer-based and delivered through HRPA’s testing partner PSI. The CHRP is a 150 question multiple choice exam taken over 4 hours.

The CHRL uses a case study format where you’re given a scenario and asked questions about how to apply HR knowledge to solve organizational issues. It’s a half day exam with both multiple choice and written response questions.

Maintenance Requirements

Once certified, both designations require ongoing professional development to maintain the credential. CHRPs need 60 credits over 3 years, while CHRLs need 90 credits over 3 years.

In summary, the CHRP is best for newer HR professionals, while the more advanced CHRL validates strategic expertise for senior HR leaders. Consider your experience level and career goals to determine which certification is the best fit. Both demonstrate your commitment to the HR profession in Ontario.

Here are some more specific differences between the exam structure, curriculum, questions, complexity and depth of the CHRP and CHRL knowledge exams:

Exam Structure:

  • CHRP is 150 multiple choice questions over 4 hours

  • CHRL uses a case study format with both multiple choice and written response questions, taken over a half day


  • CHRP covers core HR competencies and knowledge required of an HR generalist across 12 subject areas

  • CHRL delves deeper into fewer subject areas with a strategic focus, evaluating application of HR at an executive level

Exam Questions:

  • CHRP questions test comprehension and application of core HR concepts

  • CHRL questions are more complex, requiring analysis, problem-solving, and demonstration of strategic thinking to address organizational issues


  • CHRP questions tend to be straightforward with a single correct answer

  • CHRL questions often have multiple valid approaches and require weighing tradeoffs of different solutions


  • CHRP evaluates understanding of fundamental HR principles and practices

  • CHRL evaluates the ability to integrate and apply in-depth HR expertise and shape organizational direction at a senior leadership level

Comparing the CHRP and CHRL Exams
Comparing the CHRP and CHRL Exams

In summary, the CHRL knowledge exam is more advanced than the CHRP in terms of the level of strategic thinking, analytical skills, and depth of expertise required to pass. It reflects the higher level of experience, responsibility and impact of the CHRL designation.

Here are some factors to consider when deciding between the CHRP and CHRL designations:

Career Stage:

  • CHRP is good for entry-level HR professionals or those with 2-5+ years experience

  • CHRL is more suitable for senior HR managers and directors with 7+ years experience

Target Jobs:

  • CHRP opens doors to HR coordinator/generalist, specialist, and manager roles

  • CHRL prepares you for senior director/VP level HR positions and CHRO roles

Preparation Approach:

  • Study core HR concepts and functions for CHRP

  • Focus on strategic leadership, critical thinking for CHRL case study questions

Salary Range:

  • Average salary for CHRP holders is $65-80K CAD depending on role and experience

  • CHRL certified professionals earn $100K CAD or more on average in senior HR leadership jobs

Exam Difficulty:

  • CHRP knowledge exam tests comprehension of principles

  • CHRL evaluates ability to apply expertise to complex organizational issues

Designation Value:

  • Both demonstrate credibility but CHRL carries more weight for executive HR roles

In deciding, consider where you are in your HR career path. CHRP is suitable for many, while CHRL validates expertise for senior leadership. Target the designation aligned with your current and future career goals. Proper preparation focusing on the exam format and content is also important.

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