Becoming a Human Resources Manager in 5 Steps

Research what it takes to become a human resources manager. Learn about education requirements, job duties, median wages and job outlook to find out if this is the career for you. Schools offering Human Resource Management degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What Does a Human Resources Manager Do?

In a large organization, a human resources manager might specialize in a particular area, such as employee benefits, training or labor relations. In a smaller organization, a human resources manager might have to oversee and direct a multitude of activities including, recruitment, interviewing and hiring and coordinating administrative functions of that organization as they develop policies and procedures. They also serve to facilitate cooperation between employees and management.

Consider the information in the following table to determine if a career as a human resources manager is right for you.

Degree RequiredBachelor's degree; master's degree for higher-level jobs
Education Field of StudyHuman resources, labor or industrial relations, organizational development and industrial psychology
Key SkillsDecision making, interpersonal, leadership, organizational and speaking
Job Growth (2014-2024)9%*
Median Salary (2015)$104,440*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Step 1: Earn a Bachelor's Degree

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) stated that a bachelor's degree is the most common academic standard required to work as a human resources manager. Undergraduate study offers you an opportunity to learn about various business practices and begin focusing on human resources processes and procedures. In addition to taking general education and business courses, you could also participate in an internship to gain experience in the field. Relevant majors can include business, finance, psychology and human resources management.

Step 2: Work as an Intern

Even if you don't have the opportunity to intern through a college program, many large companies offer internships for students and recent graduates. As a human resources (HR) intern, you'll need good interpersonal skills to communicate with employees and management, and you might need to handle sensitive information. Some job duties you could perform include maintaining employee records systems, participating in recruiting events and assisting with new employee orientations.

Step 3: Obtain an Entry-Level Position

According to the Society for Human Resource Management, at least a year of experience is necessary for you to obtain an entry-level job in human resources. However, you can usually use the experience you gain through an internship, volunteer program or other related work. Sometimes, corporate recruiters visit college campuses to find new talent, or you might apply for a job as a human resources assistant.

Step 4: Consider a Master's Degree

To advance to a human resources management position, experience and additional training could be essential. In such positions as labor or industrial relations, the BLS reported that graduate education might be necessary. You can earn a master's degree in a broad discipline, such as organizational leadership, or a more specific area, such as labor and employment negotiation. Specialty programs, such as personnel administration, are usually offered at the master's level. Graduate courses can teach you techniques in project management, strategic planning, contract negotiation, arbitration and mediation.

Step 5: Get Certified

Obtaining voluntary certification can demonstrate to employers your competency in the field and commitment professional standards. Common credentials you could obtain include the Professional in Human Resources (PHR) and Senior Professional in Human Resources (SPHR) designations offered by the HR Certification Institute. Registering for the PHR certification exam requires you earn a bachelor's degree and have a minimum of two years' experience, though if you have a master's degree, you can qualify with only one year of experience. For the SPHR certification exam, you'll need at least 4-5 years' experience, depending on your degree level.

What Are Some Related Alternative Careers?

A labor relations specialist is in fact a type of human resources specialist. Duties of a labor relations specialist are focused on the interpretation and administration of labor contracts. They serve as conduits between management and employees as they investigate and address questions and/or grievances regarding wages, pensions, salaries and union activities.

Administrative service managers are generally responsible for keeping an organization running smoothly. With some variation between organizations, duties can include office upkeep, the distribution of mail and accurate and prompt record keeping. They monitor the maintenance and safety of equipment as well as compliance with environmental policies. They may make recommendations regarding policies, budgets in order to improve the efficiency or productivity of the organization.

To continue researching, browse degree options below for course curriculum, prerequisites and financial aid information. Or, learn more about the subject by reading the related articles below:

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