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How Do I Get a Career in Human Resources?

Group of workers sitting at a conference room table.

You have a knack for problem-solving among your friends, and you may have even helped a few classmates arrive at a peaceful resolution. As the time comes to start thinking of your future career path, you’d like to apply your people skills to your job.

One career you’re potentially considering is human resources or HR, maybe even in management. As an HR manager, you would be involved with hiring, onboarding, and paying employees. When an employee decides to quit or is let go, managing that would be a part of your job, as well. In between, you’d also settle employee and even employer disputes to make your office a safe, profitable, and comfortable environment for all staff.

If you’re not quite sure how to make your HR career aspirations a reality, this is the article for you. In it, we’ll discuss the steps you need to take to become a well-respected HR manager in an office that needs you. 

What Kind of Education Should You Have for a Job in HR?

You should at least obtain a bachelor’s degree to get your human resources job. In this case, the subject of study doesn’t necessarily matter as much, although obviously having studied certain fields will make you better suited to the job. These include sociology, psychology, personnel management, human resources, business, or marketing.

Is a Certification Required?

Once you finish your time in academia, you might want to hold off before you apply for that human resources job right away. You have the option to extend your schooling further and earn a human resources certification. These certifications make you stand out on job applications, especially when compared to other candidates that lack the certification.

Even once you enter your career track, if you’re not satisfied with your progress, you could climb several rungs up the career ladder with an HR certification.

Examples of certifications include the Senior Professional in Human Resources (SPHR) and the Professional in Human Resources (PHR). These certifications are issued by the HR Certification Institute (HRCI). If you’re attending college, then you’d want to look at the HRCI’s college certificate program known as the Associate Professional of HR or APHR. 

You can also enjoy more success in your career and greater opportunities for promotion with a PHR or SPHR certificate. According to job resource Balance Careers, of HR managers striving to become HR administrators, 63 percent with certifications got promoted. HR employees at the same level but without the certification saw a promotion just 34 percent of the time.

Your certification will continue to help you throughout your career, as well. If you wanted to make the jump to an HR generalist from an HR administrator, only 27 percent of employees with no certification did. Comparably, more than 57 percent of employees with a certification advanced their careers.

What Skills and Traits Are Necessary for a Job in Human Resources?

Besides the educational aspect, to succeed in a human resources job, you also need a particular skillset. Soft skills, which include communications, social abilities, and people skills, are valued quite highly in this line of work. Here’s an overview of the skills you should possess:

Empathy: As an HR manager, employees of all levels will come to you. Sometimes, they may have specific complaints about another staff member. In other cases, they could be unhappy about elements of the job. You must be able to imagine yourself in the same situation and choose a solution that’s devoid of bias.

Budgeting: We said before that human resources involves payroll, but you’d also handle employee benefits and compensation. On top of that, you have to budget for performance appraisals, activities, onboarding, training, employee development, and more. While you won’t create the budget yourself, you will have a large role in it. You need to know how to handle money well.

Decision-making: When employees are struggling to make a decision, they’ll come to you for guidance and information. You may also have the first or final say in whether an employee gets hired. Your judgment must be good and your sense of decision-making refined. Sometimes this means making hard decisions, like who gets fired or laid off when downsizing.

Organization: You cannot afford to miss an employee payment or skip a part of a new staff member’s onboarding. Your organizational skills will affect the rest of the office, so a neat, tidy attitude is a good one to have.

Communication: Above almost all else, as an HR manager, you must be an excellent communicator. You will have to keep a level head in stressful situations, be empathetic when times are hard, and diffuse tense issues without your professional demeanor faltering.

What Is the Career Outlook for Human Resources Jobs?

Before you decide on a career path, you need to be sure of its potential longevity. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the field is projected to grow seven percent 2028—adding roughly 10,800 HR jobs to the workforce.

If you’re ready to pursue your degree and start your career in human resources, Bryant & Stratton College is the place for you. Our professors are experts in their field, combining their knowledge and passion with real-world expertise. Why not learn more about our program today? You can visit our website here or give us a call at 1-866-948-0571 to get started. We even have a live chat feature on our website if you’d prefer that. We look forward to hearing from you!

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