Human Resources: How Does One Become a Human Resource Professional

Learn how to become a human resources professional. Research the education, experience and career requirements for starting a career as a human resource professional.

Should I Become a Human Resources Professional?

Human resources professionals may work as specialists or managers. Their duties can include handling administrative work or helping hire and train new employees. Administrative work may consist of payroll, benefits and contracts. When hiring new employees, human resources professionals must understand the qualifications necessary for the position, interview candidates and perform background checks. Once someone is hired, they may also oversee employee orientation and assist with training.

These professionals can find work at corporations, government offices, technical companies and health care organizations. The duties of these workers may require them to travel frequently for business. Some workers may put in overtime hours on a regular basis.

Career Requirements

Degree Level Bachelor's degree; master's degrees often helpful for advancement
Degree Field Human resources, business administration or a related field
Certification Certification not required, but may demonstrate professional knowledge
Experience No experience required for HR specialists; 1-5 years of experience required for HR managers
Key Skills Strong communication skills and attention to detail; good speaking and listening skills
Salary $62,590 (2014 average salary for all human resources specialists); $114,140 (2014 average salary for all human resources managers)

Sources: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Step 1: Earn a Bachelor's Degree

A bachelor's degree program, such as a Bachelor of Science in Human Resources, can prepare graduates to work as human resource professionals. Students in these programs will learn how to develop and implement training programs. The curriculum may also cover areas involving working in teams, intervention strategies, instructional design and career guidance. Other common courses in HR degree programs include organizational development, human resources leadership, principles and practices of human resources, diversity issues and multimedia development.

Step 2: Participate in an Internship

Some bachelor's degree programs include an internship as part of the curriculum; if it is not included, students should seek one on their own. The purpose of an internship is to help students become familiar with human resources practices and begin developing experience in the field. Interns will be able to apply what they learned in the classroom into a practical environment. Opportunities may be available to work as part of a team, assist in training and begin developing organizational skills.

Success Tip:

  • Intern during the summer. Completing an internship in the summer can help students study the field without the additional pressure of attending classes and completing homework. This will allow students to work during regular working hours and participate in all company activities during the day.

Step 3: Obtain Certification

Professionals can seek certification in human resources, such as the Certified Human Resources Specialist designation. In order to obtain certification, professionals will need to attend a workshop and complete a training program. Individuals will also need to complete an examination. The advantages of earning certification include enhancing employment opportunities and developing connections in the field.

Step 4: Pursue Advancement

After working in the field, human resource specialists can advance to become managers. Human resource managers generally need at least a year of experience working in a human resource specialist position. Additionally, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics notes that candidates who have certification or a master's degree, such as the Master of Business Administration, should have the best job prospects.

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