Human Resource Management: How to Start a Career in Human Resources

Sep 09, 2019

The first step to becoming a human resource manager is to complete high school or earn a GED. It might be wise to take some business-related courses, just to prepare yourself for what lies ahead. Once you graduate, there are four straightforward steps that can lead you to a managerial position in human resources.

Essential Information

Human resource managers are professionals who have important responsibilities within a company, including managing benefits and hiring new employees. Students interested in this career will need at least a bachelor's degree and experience in the field for most positions, although some employers require a graduate degree. Professional certification may help with advancement.

Required Education Bachelor's degree at minimum, master's degree sometimes required
Other Requirements Several years of experience, professional certification optional for advancement
 Median Salary (2018)   $113,300 (for all Human resources managers)*
 Projected Job Growth (2018-2028)   7% growth (for all Human resources managers)*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Step 1: Complete High School

High school students interested in the human resources career field may consider taking business-related courses. Some high schools offer courses in business technology, finance or accounting. Many high schools have business-related clubs, such as the Future Business Leaders of America, that offer students opportunities to work on projects and compete in competitions.

Step 2: Earn a Bachelor's Degree

Prospective human resource managers may consider programs in human resources or related majors, like business or management. These programs incorporate coursework common to all business majors, such as business calculus, microeconomics, macroeconomics and accounting. Courses relevant to human resources include topics like staffing, conflict management and labor relations. Undergraduate students may gain experience by doing an internship, which some programs count toward elective credit.

Step 3: Find Work

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), overall employment for human resources managers is expected to increase 7% from 2018-2028, which is faster-than-average. As businesses become larger with more intricate policies, the demand for human resource professionals will increase. Employment projections will vary, depending on whether or not an industry is expanding or declining.

The BLS states that pay in this career field can vary due to many factors, such as location, experience and the size of the employing firm. In addition to salary, many positions offer benefits, including insurance and 401k plans. In May 2018, the BLS reported that the median salary of a human resources manager was $113,300 per year.

Step 4: Consider a Master's Degree

The BLS indicates that individuals interested in management positions might need a master's degree related to human resources management. The core curricula of these programs often require coursework in decision-making, strategy and business ethics. Elective courses enhance the core requirements and may be chosen based on an individual's career interests. Some graduate schools offer a human resources concentration in other business programs.

Step 5: Consider Professional Certifications

Individuals seeking advancement may consider certifications offered through professional organizations. The Society for Human Resource Management offers both the Professional in Human Resources and Senior Professional in Human Resources credentials. These credentials require industry experience and a passing score on a qualifying exam, which includes topics in strategic management, workforce planning and labor relations.

The need for human resource managers is expected to increase at a somewhat faster rate that the national average for all occupations. You can put yourself in a good position to land a job by completing an appropriate bachelor's degree program that includes an internship, and then continuing with your studies to earn a master's degree. Professional certification, while voluntary, can enhance your stature in the field and be beneficial for advancement.

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