How to Become a Human Resources Manager, Step By Step Guide

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If you are interested in learning how to become a human resources manager, you’ve come to the right place! You probably have a lot of questions about the job description, degree requirements and any other steps you might need to take to pursue a career as an HR manager. The good news is that the road to this career path may not be as difficult as you think. Firstly, we recommend that you consider what exactly human resource managers do, investigate whether you think you’d be a good fit, and decide which degree option works best for you goals. To get you started, let’s take a look at some common questions about human resource managers.

What is a human resources manager?

Human resource managers are responsible for planning and overseeing the administrative functions of companies or organizations. They direct various aspects including the interview, recruitment and hiring processes, they consult with top executives, and serve as a link between management and employees.

Some examples of different types of HR managers include labor relations managers and payroll managers.

how to become a human resources manager

What are some typical job duties?

Typical job duties for human resources managers may vary, depending on the company that you work for. However, it is likely that you may be responsible for some of the following:

  • Overseeing regulatory compliance, employee relations and services such as payroll and benefits
  • Consulting managers on organizational policies
  • Coordinating and supervising the work of support staff
  • Planning and strategizing the way to best use the talents of your workforce
  • Managing recruitment and staffing issues
  • Serving as a liaison between management and employees

What type of degree should I pursue?

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS),[i]  becoming a human resources managers generally require a combination of several years of related work experience and a bachelor’s degree (although some positions may require a master’s degree). Typically, in order to be hired as an HR manager, it’s required that you earn a bachelor’s degree in human resources or business administration. However, earning your bachelor’s degree in another field and taking courses in organization development or industrial psychology may also be acceptable. [i]

Some employers may also be open to experienced professionals with a background in other areas such as finance, education or information technology. And, different higher-level jobs may require a master’s degree in human resources, labor relations or an MBA. [i]

When it comes to work-related experience, it’s important that your work background demonstrates that you have the competence to manage and lead others in your given industry. Experience with compensation and benefits plans or with a Human Resources Information System (HRIS), and a good understanding of labor laws at the local, state and federal level may also be desired. [i]

Do I need to get any certifications to become a human resource manager?

Getting certified as an HR manager may be beneficial because it can illustrate a certain level of credibility and expertise. To that end, some employers may prefer certified candidates over others. If you want to get certified, there are a variety of options offered by the HR Certification Institute and the International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans. [i]

What types of skills are ideal for those who wish to become a Human Resources Manager?

You’re likely not surprised to hear that human resources managers need to have strong interpersonal skills and the ability to work well with others. So what are some other qualities that may be valuable to a career in human resources?

  • The ability to make good decisions by balancing the strengths and weaknesses of different options, such as whether to hire a potential employee.
  • Solid leadership skills that allow you to effectively oversee staff and ensure that workers are doing what they need to.
  • Strong organizational skills so you can manage several different projects and responsibilities at once.
  • Good public speaking skills that allow you to communicate info to employees, give presentations and direct staff in a clear, professional way.

Where you could potentially work

Due to the nature of the job, human resources managers can work in offices in a wide variety of industries. According to the BLS, the industries that employed the most HR managers in 2012 were: Management of companies and enterprises (14%), Manufacturing (14%), Government (12%), Professional, scientific and technical services (10%) and Healthcare and Social assistance (10%). [ii]

What is the potential job and salary outlook for human resources managers?

Your salary may vary depending on where you work, but according to the BLS, the median annual salary for human resources managers in 2012 was $99,720. From 2012-22 employment of HR managers is expected to grow by 13% (which is as fast as average). [iii]

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