How to Get A Human Resources Career

Applicant for a job in Human Resource department

John Wildgoose / Getty Images

Many people are eager to start a career in Human Resources (HR), as it is a fast-growing field with many lucrative opportunities. Career analysts expect the number of HR jobs to increase in the projected future and the median annual income is above the national average for all jobs. 

People working in this industry use their soft skills and experience in a field where they perceive that they will help others. Helping others makes HR careers meaningful work to many potential employees. They are also interested in using their planning, program development, labor relations, and accounting skills to their best advantage.

Education and Training for an HR Career

HR professionals come into the field with a wide variety of educational backgrounds. However, many HR positions require candidates with a minimum of a four-year degree. A bachelor's degree in human resources, personnel management, or some other related subject such as psychology or sociology will offer the best training for an HR career.

Such a degree will also be more highly regarded among hiring managers than degrees in, for example, chemistry or packaging, fields only peripherally related to working with people.

If you're starting out or thinking about switching to a career in Human Resources today, you need to obtain a degree. You will find yourself competing for jobs with other individuals who may have as much experience as you do and who also have a degree.

Human Resource Manager Positions

If you would like to pursue a managerial position or specialized career in HR, some schools offer business degrees that are more focused on a certain area of human resources. Naturally, a graduate-level degree in a related field will help to place you on more hiring shortlists.

Whether you pursue a general HR degree or a more specialized practice within HR, you should be sure to take courses that cover topics such as management, recruitment, training, and compensation so that you have the key skills necessary to succeed in an HR career. Of course, there are many other business courses that relate to the HR field, so an interdisciplinary program is good.

Human Resource Certifications

In addition to a college degree, many professionals will have the opportunity to seek certification in certain HR disciplines. In fact, large companies will sometimes offer workshops and classes that broaden an existing professional's HR skills.

By completing a professional certification course, you can increase your earning potential. Examples of certifications include the Professional in Human Resources (PHR) or Senior Professional in Human Resources (SPHR).

If you are already working in an entry-level HR position, earning a certification could help boost your career. Likewise, it could help you transition from a different department to an HR position.

Finding Human Resources Jobs

Finding a position within the HR industry is similar to finding any other kind of job. In addition to those general career sites, however, there are online job board resources that are more specific to the HR field. The Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), for example, offers a job board that is primarily for HR professionals. Additional job boards specialize in the field of Human Resources.

Some businesses will first look for candidates within the company. Keep this in mind if you are currently working for a medium to a large company and wish to enter the HR department. If your company has an internal resource for new positions, such as a private online careers site or internal job postings, check regularly for your chance to get your foot in the door.

Talk, too, to your current HR staff about your interest in HR. It's possible that your interest may open the HR door. You have achieved half the battle already when you know the company, the people, the culture, and the customers. With a bit of help, you will learn all about HR.

More candidates for HR jobs are finding their way into HR careers via professional networking and online social networking sites these days, too. If you're still a student, or just out of college, an internship in an HR department can provide the relevant experience you need for your HR job search.

Just like any other profession, finding a career in HR is easiest for those with a college degree in the field and/or professional certification. But, people with related majors in such areas as business, sociology, psychology, and social sciences are also considered, especially for more entry-level jobs.

There are many HR positions available and there will be more opportunities in the future. With the proper training and some diligent job searching, you can join other HR professionals in what is the most lucrative and satisfying career.