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How to Become a Human Resources Manager

By Ajoke Aminu


Are you thinking of how to move up the HR ladder? Becoming a Human Resources Manager is like landing a role on the executive board of a company, except it’s a lot less stuffy. Our complete guide on how to become an HR manager gives you insider knowledge on employers’ requirements, how to market yourself, and the steps to make your career goals a reality.

Career Summary

Human Resources Manager Salary

Human Resources Manager Salary

As the gatekeeper of company culture, people operations, and all things people-related, the HR Manager’s role is crucial to any organization’s success.

The HR Manager Salary sets the tone for the rest of the company, and here is the trajectory:

  • Entry Salary (US$65k)
  • Median Salary (US$80k)
  • Executive Salary (US$120k)

Considering the HR manager salary range, this career path promises to be a lucrative one, significantly higher than the national average income.

What does a Human Resources Manager do?

An HR manager job description is one of the most straightforward ones– your primary role is to oversee the HR functions of an organization. As a human resources manager, your tasks include developing and implementing HR policies and procedures, managing employee relations, handling recruitment and selection, administering compensation and benefits, facilitating training and development programs, ensuring legal compliance, and promoting a positive work environment.

Human Resources Manager Career Progression

  • HR Assistant/Coordinator: Provides administrative support to the HR department, handles basic tasks, and assists with employee recruitment and onboarding.
  • HR Generalist: Manages a broad range of HR activities, including employee relations, performance management, training, and HR implementation.
  • HR Specialist: Focuses on a specific HR area, such as compensation and benefits, talent acquisition, employee training development, or employee relations.
  • HR Supervisor/Team Lead: Leads a team of HR professionals, oversees HR operations and ensures compliance with HR policies and procedures.
  • HR Manager: Manages the overall HR function, develops HR strategies, collaborates with senior management, and ensures alignment with organizational goals.
  • HR Director: Provides strategic leadership to the HR department, establishes HR policies and procedures, and contributes to organizational strategy.
  • VP/Head of Human Resources: Leads the entire HR function, advises senior executives on HR matters, and shapes the organization’s HR strategy.
Human Resources Manager Career Progression


  • Engaging with employees at various levels, fostering relationships, and supporting their professional growth and well-being
  • Opportunities for continuous learning and development, allowing HR managers to enhance their careers
  • Competitive salary that can cater to a comfortable lifestyle
  • Opportunity to shape organizational culture, drive employee engagement, and contribute to the overall success of the company


  • Managing employee conflicts, disciplinary actions, and performance issues
  • Juggling multiple priorities and demands, including managing administrative tasks, employee requests, and strategic initiatives
  • Staying up to date with employment laws, regulations, and compliance requirements can be complex and challenging.
  • High-pressure situations, such as layoffs, workplace investigations, or challenging employee situations

Essential Human Resources Manager Skillset

  • Ethical and professional conduct.
  • Relationship-building and networking abilities.
  • Emotional intelligence and empathy.
  • Business acumen and strategic thinking.
  • Knowledge of employment laws and regulations.
  • Analytical and data-driven approach.

Popular Human Resources Manager Specialties

  • Talent Acquisition and Recruitment
  • Compensation and Benefits Management
  • Diversity and Inclusion Management
  • HR Policy and Compliance
  • Training and Development

How to become a Human Resources Manager

Human Resources Manager 5 Steps to Career

Educational Steps to Becoming a Human Resources Manager

Education is a key component in achieving this position, and while there is no one set educational path to follow, there are some common prerequisites. So, if you’re ready to hit the books and take that next step toward being a Human Resources Manager, let’s get into it!

Degree Requirements for Human Resources Manager Roles

It is highly beneficial to have a bachelor’s degree to pursue a career as a Human Resources (HR) manager. Many employers prefer candidates with a degree in human resources, business administration, or a related field like communications or psychology. A degree provides a solid foundation in HR principles, employment law, organizational behavior, and other essential areas. It also demonstrates a level of dedication and knowledge in the field.

However, some individuals may enter the HR field with relevant work experience or through alternative paths such as starting in entry-level HR positions and gradually working their way up. In these cases, practical experience and professional certifications can be valuable in lieu of a degree. It’s important to note that the specific educational requirements for HR manager positions can vary based on factors such as the organization’s size, industry, and level of responsibility.

Generally, higher-level or executive HR management positions may require advanced degrees, such as a master’s in human resources or a related field, as sometimes seen in HR manager job description. Ultimately, while a degree is not always mandatory, having one can enhance your prospects of securing an HR manager role and provide you with a solid knowledge base to excel in the field.

Why an Aspiring HR Manager Should Pursue a Degree

If you’re considering a career as a human resources manager, a degree might just be your ticket to success. While not always required, a degree can give you the skills and knowledge needed to stand out from the competition and land a top-notch job. Also, with the ever-evolving field of HR, a degree can help you stay up-to-date on the latest trends and best practices.

In addition, networking with professors and fellow students can lead to valuable opportunities down the line. So, why not boost your resume, expand your knowledge, and make some professional friends along the way?

Here is a list of why an aspiring HR manager should own a degree:

  • Many organizations have educational requirements for HR management roles, and a degree can open doors to higher-level positions and increase your chances of securing leadership roles.
  • Having a degree fast-tracks your HR manager salary trajectory.
  • A degree in HR provides a comprehensive understanding of key HR principles and practices, forming the basis for effective HR management and decision-making.
  • A degree enhances your professional standing, showing employers that you have acquired knowledge and skills through formal education, giving you an advantage over candidates without relevant degrees.
  • HR degree programs offer specialized courses and practical experiences, equipping you with in-depth knowledge and skills in areas like labor relations, compensation management, talent acquisition, and strategic HR planning.
  • Pursuing an HR degree allows you to network with professors, students, and industry professionals, fostering valuable connections, mentorship, and potential job opportunities while staying up to date with industry trends.

Navigate the Duration of a Human Resources Management Degree

The time required to obtain a degree in Human Resources Management can vary depending on several factors, including the type of degree program, the educational institution, and whether you are studying full-time or part-time. Generally, it takes around 3 to 4 years to complete a bachelor’s degree in Human Resources Management. This timeframe assumes that you are enrolled as a full-time student and following a standard course load.

However, it’s important to note that some universities offer accelerated programs or allow students to take additional courses during certain semesters, which can shorten the duration of the program. On the other hand, if you choose to pursue a part-time or online program while working or fulfilling other commitments, it may take longer to complete the degree.

If you are considering advanced degrees like a master’s in Human Resources Management, the duration can range from 1 to 2 years of full-time study, depending on the program’s structure and requirements. It’s always advisable to check the specific requirements and program duration of the educational institution you are interested in to get accurate information about the length of time needed to earn a degree in Human Resources Management.

The Price Tag for Studying Human Resources Management at University in the USA

Don’t forget your wallet as you consider studying Human Resources Management at a university in the USA. The cost of studying HR management at a university can vary significantly depending on several factors, such as the country or region where the university is located, the specific university or college, the program level (bachelor’s, master’s, etc.), and whether you are an in-state or out-of-state/international student.

Vocational programs in Human Resources Management typically have an estimated cost of $17,257.

For undergraduate programs, in-state students can expect to pay approximately $10,197 in tuition and fees, while out-of-state students may face a higher cost of $25,922.

Graduate programs in Human Resources Management have varying costs as well, with in-state tuition and fees averaging around $12,628, and out-of-state tuition and fees averaging approximately $18,569.

It is best to research specific universities or colleges of interest to gather accurate and up-to-date information on their tuition fees and related costs. Many educational institutions provide detailed information about their fees and expenses on their websites, including any available financial aid, scholarships, or grants that may help offset the costs.

Unconventional Pathways to Becoming an HR Manager

There isn’t one straightforward path to becoming a Human Resources Manager. If you’ve never been for the traditional college route, don’t worry– getting a degree in HR isn’t the only option! Some HR Managers got their start in other fields, such as finance, marketing, or operations, before transitioning to a human resources role. Others have worked their way up from entry-level HR positions by gaining experience and taking on more responsibilities.

If you’re really feeling adventurous, you could even start your own HR consulting business. The possibilities are endless – as long as you’re willing to put in the work to develop your skills and knowledge of the industry. So don’t be afraid to take an unconventional path toward your dream career as an HR Manager!

Achieve HR Managerial Success through Online Education

Indeed, you can become a Human Resources Manager through online education. Online education has evolved significantly, offering a wide range of accredited programs in Human Resources Management. These online programs provide the same curriculum and learning outcomes as on-campus programs, enabling you to acquire the necessary knowledge and skills for a career in HR management.

While online education provides a flexible pathway to becoming an HR Manager, it is essential to choose an accredited program from a reputable institution. Accreditation ensures the quality and recognition of your degree by employers and industry professionals.

In summary, online education can serve as a viable and convenient option for aspiring HR Managers, enabling them to gain the necessary knowledge and skills to succeed in the field.

Web Resources to Gain Knowledge about Human Resources
  • Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM): SHRM is a renowned professional association for HR practitioners. Their website offers a wealth of resources, including articles, research reports, webcasts, and toolkits that cover various HR topics. SHRM also provides access to certification programs, online courses, and virtual events.
  • Human Resources Today: Human Resources Today is an online platform that offers a wide range of HR-related articles, insights, and best practices. It covers diverse HR topics such as talent management, employee engagement, leadership development, and HR technology. The platform provides valuable information to help you stay updated on industry trends and enhance your HR knowledge.
  • HR Bartender: HR Bartender is a popular HR blog managed by Sharlyn Lauby, an experienced HR professional. The blog features articles and resources that cover various HR topics, including employee relations, performance management, recruiting, and workplace culture. It offers practical insights and tips for HR professionals at all levels.
  • is a comprehensive online resource for HR professionals. It offers articles, webinars, research papers, whitepapers, and a variety of HR-related content. The platform also provides opportunities for networking and engaging with the HR community through forums, events, and virtual conferences.
  • HR Exchange Network: HR Exchange Network is an online community and resource hub for HR professionals. It provides articles, interviews, podcasts, webinars, and research reports on various HR topics. The platform focuses on thought leadership, industry insights, and emerging trends in HR.
  • HRDive: HRDive is an online publication that covers the latest news and trends in HR. It provides articles, reports, and analyses on various HR topics, including talent management, HR technology, diversity and inclusion, and workplace regulations. It offers valuable insights into current HR issues and industry developments.
HR Certifications You Should Pursue
  • Professional in Human Resources (PHR): Offered by the Human Resource Certification Institute (HRCI), the PHR certification demonstrates knowledge and experience in HR operations, laws, and best practices.
  • Senior Professional in Human Resources (SPHR): Also provided by HRCI, the SPHR certification is designed for HR professionals with more advanced experience and expertise in strategic HR management and leadership.
  • SHRM Certified Professional (SHRM-CP): Offered by the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), the SHRM-CP certification validates HR professionals’ competency in areas such as people management, employee development, and HR strategy.
  • SHRM Senior Certified Professional (SHRM-SCP): Also provided by SHRM, the SHRM-SCP certification is designed for HR professionals at the senior level who demonstrate advanced knowledge and strategic expertise in HR.
  • Certified Compensation Professional (CCP): Offered by WorldatWork, the CCP certification focuses specifically on compensation and rewards management, including job analysis, market pricing, and total rewards strategies.
  • Certified Employee Benefits Specialist (CEBS): Provided by the International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans (IFEBP) and the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, the CEBS certification focuses on employee benefits planning and administration.

To enhance your qualifications, consider participating in internships, networking events, or joining professional HR associations. Practical experience and networking can complement your online education and provide valuable opportunities for career growth.

Practical Experience

Becoming a Human Resources (HR) Manager may seem like an insurmountable endeavor. However, practical experience is often the key ingredient to unlocking the door to this highly coveted career. The path to becoming an HR Manager can begin in many ways, ranging from internships and lower-level job positions in the industry to managing teams in other departments or even a managerial position in another field.

Employers appreciate a variety of practical experience, including leadership roles, team management experience, as well as solid knowledge of employment laws, regulatory compliance, and workforce planning. Providing strategic guidance on organizational growth and employee performance will put you on the path to becoming an HR manager. Gaining practical experience allows you to see the ins and outs of the industry, truly understand what it takes, and develop the skills necessary to thrive in this exciting career field.

What are Internship Opportunities for aspiring HR Managers?

  • HR Department Internship: Interning within the HR department of a company allows you to gain hands-on experience in various HR functions. You can assist with recruitment and selection processes, participate in employee onboarding and training, contribute to performance management initiatives, and help with HR administration tasks. This internship provides a comprehensive overview of HR operations within an organizational setting.
  • Recruitment and Talent Acquisition Internship: Focusing specifically on recruitment and talent acquisition internships can provide you with specialized experience in these critical HR functions. You can assist in sourcing candidates, conducting interviews, evaluating resumes, and coordinating recruitment efforts. This internship exposes you to the intricacies of talent acquisition strategies and helps you develop skills in candidate assessment and selection.
  • Employee Relations Internship: An internship in employee relations allows you to work closely with HR professionals to address employee-related issues and promote positive workplace relationships. You may assist in conducting investigations, mediating conflicts, implementing employee engagement initiatives, and developing policies and procedures to enhance employee satisfaction and productivity.
  • Training and Development Internship: Interning in the training and development department exposes you to the design, delivery, and evaluation of employee training programs. You can assist in assessing training needs, developing training materials, coordinating workshops or seminars, and evaluating the effectiveness of training initiatives. This internship allows you to develop skills in employee development and organizational learning.
  • HR Consulting Internship: Some consulting firms offer internships that focus on providing HR services to client organizations. These internships involve working on diverse projects, such as policy development, organizational restructuring, compensation analysis, or HR technology implementation. This internship exposes you to a range of HR challenges and allows you to develop consulting skills while working with different clients.

Essential HR Skills You Will Learn

  • Human Resources Management: You will acquire a comprehensive understanding of HR principles, practices, and strategies, including areas such as talent acquisition, employee engagement, performance management, training and development, compensation and benefits, HR compliance, and employee relations.
  • Communication and Interpersonal Skills: HR Managers need strong communication and interpersonal skills to effectively interact with employees, management, and external stakeholders. You will develop skills in active listening, conflict resolution, negotiation, and relationship-building to foster effective communication and collaboration.
  • Leadership and Management: As an HR Manager, you will develop leadership and management skills to lead HR teams, guide organizational change, and influence strategic decision-making. You will learn how to motivate and inspire employees, drive performance, and create a positive work culture.
  • Problem-Solving and Decision-Making: HR Managers often face complex challenges and need to make informed decisions. You will learn to analyze situations, identify problems, and apply critical thinking and problem-solving skills to develop effective HR strategies and solutions.
  • HR Analytics and Data-Driven Decision Making: With the increasing use of HR analytics, you will learn to leverage data and metrics to make evidence-based decisions. You will develop skills in data analysis, data interpretation, and reporting to drive HR initiatives and measure their impact.
  • Employment Law and Compliance: HR Managers need a solid understanding of employment laws and regulations to ensure compliance and mitigate legal risks. You will learn about relevant labor laws, regulations, and HR best practices to ensure fair and ethical treatment of employees and maintain legal compliance.
  • Strategic Thinking: HR Managers play a crucial role in aligning HR initiatives with the organization’s overall strategic goals. You will develop strategic thinking skills to understand the organization’s vision, anticipate future HR needs, and develop HR strategies that support business objectives.
  • Ethical and Professional Conduct: HR Managers are entrusted with sensitive employee information and must maintain high ethical standards. You will learn about professional ethics, confidentiality, and ethical decision-making to ensure integrity in HR practices.

Securing Your First Role as an HR Manager

Are you ready to join the ranks of the HR army, fighting for employee satisfaction and career development? If your answer is yes, let’s talk about how to secure your first job in this competitive field.

At this point, you should already have a strong foundation of knowledge in HR, so brush up on your employee benefits, compliance regulations, and company culture-building techniques. Also, you need essential HR-specific interview tips and how to beat application tracking systems with a stellar resume. Delve deeper to discover other facts you should know about this field before your first role.

Exploring Job Opportunities for Human Resources Managers

  • HR Manager: This is the most common and traditional role for HR Managers. In this position, you will oversee all aspects of HR operations within an organization. Your responsibilities may include recruitment and selection, employee relations, performance management, compensation and benefits administration, training and development, and HR policy development.
  • HR Business Partner: As an HR Business Partner, you will work closely with business leaders and departments to align HR strategies with organizational goals. You will serve as a strategic advisor, providing guidance on talent management, organizational development, change management, and employee engagement. This role requires strong business acumen and the ability to influence and drive HR initiatives.
  • HR Director: HR Directors are responsible for overseeing the HR function at a higher level within an organization. In addition to managing HR operations, they contribute to strategic decision-making, policy development, and long-term planning. HR Directors often lead HR teams and collaborate with executive leadership to drive organizational effectiveness through effective HR practices.
  • Talent Acquisition Manager: In this role, you will focus specifically on talent acquisition and recruitment. You will develop and implement recruitment strategies, manage the hiring process, and build relationships with external recruitment agencies and job boards. Talent Acquisition Managers play a crucial role in attracting and selecting qualified candidates to meet the organization’s talent needs.
  • Employee Relations Manager: Employee Relations Managers specialize in managing employee-related issues and ensuring positive workplace relationships. You will handle employee grievances, mediate conflicts, and implement employee engagement initiatives. This role requires strong communication and problem-solving skills to maintain a healthy work environment.
  • Compensation and Benefits Manager: As a Compensation and Benefits Manager, you will be responsible for developing and managing the organization’s compensation and benefits programs. This includes conducting market research, analyzing salary data, designing incentive structures, and overseeing benefits administration. This role requires a deep understanding of compensation practices and compliance with relevant laws and regulations.
  • Training and Development Manager: Training and Development Managers focus on employee learning and development initiatives. You will assess training needs, design and deliver training programs, and evaluate their effectiveness. This role plays a crucial part in enhancing employee skills, promoting professional growth, and aligning training with organizational goals.
  • HR Consultant: HR Consultants work independently or as part of consulting firms, providing HR expertise and guidance to client organizations. They assist with HR projects, such as policy development, organizational restructuring, talent management, and HR technology implementation. This role requires a strong understanding of HR best practices and the ability to adapt to different client needs.

Company Types that Hire Human Resources Managers

  • Large Corporations
  • Medium-Sized Companies
  • Small Businesses
  • Government Agencies
  • Educational Institutions
  • Healthcare Facilities

What is the Work-Life Balance of a Human Resources Manager?

Achieving work-life balance as a Human Resources Manager can be challenging due to the demanding nature of the role. As an HR, you’ll be responsible for many things in the workplace.

However, the question remains: what will your work-life balance look like? The answer is, it depends! On one hand, you may find that your work hours are flexible enough to allow time for family and other personal responsibilities. On the other hand, there may be occasions when you’ll need to put in extra hours during a busy period.

A good HR manager understands how to prioritize tasks and delegate effectively, which can mean leaving work at a reasonable hour. So, while there’s no one-size-fits-all answer to the question of work-life balance, rest assured that a career in HR can allow for a fulfilling work-life balance when managed properly.

What’s the Career Outlook for Human Resources Manager?

Human resources managers play an essential role in any organization. Not only do they oversee the hiring and training processes, but they also manage employee benefits, company policies, and often serve as a liaison between employees and management. The career outlook for HR managers is expected to grow by 7% over the next decade (2021-2031).

As the superstar coordinators of the business world, they are responsible for recruiting and hiring top talent, coordinating onboarding and training programs, managing employee benefits and relations, and generally ensuring that a company’s most important resource- its people- are well taken care of.

Moreover, with companies placing greater importance on employee happiness and engagement, the demand for skilled HR professionals is only set to increase. So, if you are looking for a challenging career path with plenty of upward mobility and a solid paycheck, HR is suitable for you. Ultimately, the future looks bright!

Human Resources Manager Popular Career Specialties

Should I become a Human Resources Manager?

Are you considering a career as a human resources manager but aren’t quite sure if it’s the right path for you? Well, before you take the leap, it’s important to gather all the information you can to make an informed decision. Consider your personal interests and skills, as well as your long-term goals.

Think about the day-to-day tasks that come with the role, such as recruitment, employee relations, and benefits administration. Are these tasks that you could see yourself getting excited about? Can you work well under pressure and manage multiple projects simultaneously? Don’t forget to take into consideration the career outlook and required education and experience.

By taking all of these factors into account, you will be better equipped to decide if a career in human resources management is right for you. After all, if you’re going to spend a large portion of your life working, it might as well be in a field that you are passionate about.

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Ajoke Aminu

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