How to become an HR manager: Pursue a business career with purpose

Human Resource Manager


If you’ve set your sights on a business career and you’re hoping for something that empowers you to make a difference in the lives of others, a path that focuses on people could be a natural option for you. A career in human resources (HR) could allow you to combine your business savvy with your penchant for people. HR managers may tend to work behind the scenes at an organization, but they have a pretty sizable impact on their company’s daily operations and outcomes.


If you’re already considering this important role for the next step in your career, it may be time to learn more about what it takes to get there. Join us as we explore some of the typical duties these professionals take on and learn more about how to become an HR manager.

First, what does a human resource manager do? 

It’s important to remember that the specific duties these professionals are tasked with will vary depending on the size and structure of their particular organization. But, generally speaking, HR managers are responsible for all functions that deal with the needs and activities of an organization’s people. They do everything from recruiting employees and negotiating salaries to developing the organization’s culture and creating policy recommendations.


In HR management, you approach your work days with a number of different goals in mind. HR managers work to facilitate productive relationships within an organization — between support staff and employees, between assistants and managers, and between coworkers in general. They also aim to enhance overall productivity, provide a satisfying work experience and support their organization’s business strategy and long-term objectives.


Human resource management carries a lot of weight in any type of organization. Most companies recognize that the quality of their output is directly dependent on the skill and commitment of their employees – which depend on the leadership of their HR staff.


Because a typical HR manager role covers such a variety of duties, it’s critical that these professionals maintain strong organizational skills and stay adaptable. In this role, you’ll often be shifting from one project to the next, keeping your work interesting as it continually evolves.

How to become a human resource manager: 3 Important steps to take

While you can’t become an HR manager overnight, it’s a completely attainable career path. Here’s a look at how you can get started.

1. Get educated

Some higher-level HR positions require a master’s degree. But most human resource management positions simply expect candidates to have a minimum of a bachelor’s degree, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). To enter this field, you can complete your baccalaureate education in a number of different fields, such as human resources, finance, business management, education or information technology.


If you’ve already earned your bachelor’s degree in a field that may not be applicable to an HR position, you might want to look for HR management certificate options. The program at University of Massachusetts Global, for example, can help you with the following:


  • Mastering the basics of managing policies and benefits that support a capable staff.
  • Learning to manage employee relations, compensation, performance management and employee appraisals.
  • Developing an HR management strategy that can better handle all the employee issues within your company.

2. Acquire the necessary work experience

A degree isn’t the only thing you’ll need to achieve the status of HR manager. If you’ve already spent some time in the professional world, you may be at an advantage. Nearly all positions of this caliber require at least five years of related work experience.

Management positions in the HR field typically call for a thorough understanding of various programs and topics, such as compensation and benefits plans, human resources software and federal, state and local employment laws.

As they work to gain relevant experience, many HR managers begin their careers as human resource specialists or labor relations specialists.

3. Consider pursuing official certification

Not all HR manager positions require official certification, but some organizations prefer candidates with this background. Certification through a professional association allows you to demonstrate your level of expertise and credibility, helping you stand out from the competition during the hiring or promotion process.


You have a variety of options when it comes to HR certification. Two of the most common paths aspiring HR managers pursue are the Professional in Human Resources® (PHR®) certification and the Senior Professional in Human Resources® (SPHR®) certification through the HR Certification Institute™ (HRCI™).


The PHR exam demonstrates an individual’s mastery of the technical and operational aspects of HR management. PHR-certified professionals often work under another HR professional and focus their responsibilities on the HR department rather than their organization as a whole. 


The SPHR exam centers more on demonstrating an individual’s mastery of the strategic and policy-making aspects of HR management. SPHR-certified professionals are typically responsible for planning rather than implementing HR policy. Organizations look to these HR pros to help set goals, as their experience demonstrates an in-depth understanding of business issues far beyond the HR function.


If you hope to eventually pursue certification in one of these areas, you can seek out a Human Resources Certification Exam Preparation course to help equip you with the skills and knowledge you’ll need to be successful.

Make your way to a career in HR management

If you relish the idea of dedicating your career to supporting the well-being of your organization and its employees, you could be a great fit for a career in HR. Now that you know more about how to become an HR manager, you can see where you are along the journey. It may be time to start thinking about taking the next step.


If you haven’t yet earned a bachelor’s degree, head to University of Massachusetts Global’s Bachelor of Business Administration in Human Resources program page to learn more about your options.


If you’ve already completed your undergraduate education and you’re looking to arm yourself with more HR-specific skills, visit the Master of Science in Human Resources program page or the Certificate in Human Resource Management page.

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