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How to Become a
Human Resources Manager (HR)

Find your career path in HR

Human Resources (HR) managers are found in almost every business. Their main responsibilities are to recruit, hire, onboard/offboard and train employees, develop compensation packages, oversee compliance and regulations, and play a key role in developing an organization's culture.

If you see yourself in this important role, here are five steps you can take to become a Human Resources manager:

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1. Know the role of an HR manager

Human resources managers plan, coordinate and direct the administrative functions of an organization. This includes:

  • Hiring and Recruitment: Hiring involves all the steps in the recruitment process from finding prospective employees, coordinating interviews with applicants, selection, and onboarding of new hires.
  • Onboarding and offboarding: The HR Manager is involved in the onboarding process which begins when the job candidate agrees to accept a job. During the onboarding stage, steps are taken to ensure the new employee is successful and productive. Offboarding, the reverse of onboarding, involves the separation of an employee from a company.
  • Benefits and payroll: HR managers oversee salary and special benefits programs, such as retirement, and may work with accounting to ensure employees get paid wages and bonuses.
  • Training and development: This includes employee orientation and onboarding, as well as continuous development for people who want to gain more skills or move into leadership positions.
  • Compliance: Human resources managers ensure the company is in compliance with standards like equal employment opportunities. They also oversee other governance, such as employee relations, workplace disputes, labor law negotiations, and workplace safety.
  • Developing and fostering an organization’s culture: HR managers play a key role in developing the culture of an organization. They work closely with department managers to determine important issues and solicit employee feedback through engagement surveys. HR managers also champion Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) frameworks to best ensure all employees feel welcome and valued.

Because an HR manager is a high-level position, they may also oversee staff and have more advanced duties.

2. Earn a degree in human resources

The first step on the path to become an HR manager is to earn a bachelor’s degree in human resources. An HR degree program often includes coursework in human resource theory, labor management, accounting, professional communications, and information technology.

Some students, without a degree in human resources, may enter the field with a related degree, such as business administration or management, human services, marketing, or psychology, and then earn a certificate or Master of Business Administration (MBA) in HR.

Herzing University offers three HR degree pathways:

  • Online Bachelor’s Degree in Human Resources: Our curriculum has been approved by the Society of Human Resource Management (SHRM) to be fully aligned with their HR Curriculum Guidebook and Templates. Classes include a variety of HR management and business courses. The BS in HR program can be completed in 36 months, and potentially even less for students that have qualifying transfer credits.
  • MBA in Human Resources: This SHRM-approved program is ideal for HR professionals who are successful in their career and ready to prepare for executive positions, such as director or chief human resources officer. This is also a great option for people who have an undergraduate degree, such as a bachelor’s of psychology, and want to transition to a career in HR.
  • Post Master’s Certificate in HR: This online postgraduate certificate is designed for individuals with a master’s degree who want to establish or deepen their knowledge in HR. The program can be completed in less than a year and includes courses in labor laws, compensation and total rewards, and more.
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3. Gain HR experience

Entry-level HR positions include human resources specialist, associate or assistant. As you build your experience and qualifications, you can prepare for more advanced roles, like HR manager.

To become an HR manager, you typically need at least two years’ work experience. It’s important to gain a broad foundation of industry experience in areas like recruitment, benefits, and employee communications.

This gives you a much better understanding of overall HR functions, and it’s a good opportunity to build skills needed to advance in your career.

4. Get certified

A certificate in human resources is an effective way to showcase both your experience and expertise. HR professionals, especially those in management or leadership positions, often find it helpful to earn a certificate after earning their degree.

Examples of HR-specific certifications include:

  • SHRM Certified Professional (SHRM-CP): The Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) Certified Professional certificate is for individuals who perform HR and HR-related duties and would like to advance their career.
  • SHRM Senior Certified Professional (SHRM-SCP): This HR certification is designed for experienced HR employees seeking more advanced or strategic roles, such as HR director. Exam requirements include having a minimum of three years’ experience in HR .
  • SPHR – Senior Professional in Human Resources (SPHR): This certificate is awarded by the Human Resource Certification Institute (HRCI). It recognizes the advanced knowledge and responsibilities of HR professionals who have established a career in HR. To take the exam, you must have worked in HR for at least four years.
  • Specialty Certifications in HR: There are a variety of additional specialty certifications that include talent development, learning and performance, compensation and more.

5. Start your career path in HR

As an HR manager, you can enjoy a job with lots of variety – from compensation and benefits to training and development – in almost any industry.

Start your path in human resources with a bachelor’s degree, or pivot with an MBA or post-graduate certificate program. You can take the first step with Herzing University.

Discover our degree pathways in HR

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* Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook 2021. BLS estimates do not represent entry-level wages and/or salaries. Multiple factors, including prior experience, age, geography market in which you want to work and degree field, will affect career outcomes and earnings. Herzing neither represents that its graduates will earn the average salaries calculated by BLS for a particular job nor guarantees that graduation from its program will result in a job, promotion, salary increase or other career growth.

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