How to Become a Human Resources Manager


Career Path Guide

If you have an interest in employment legislation, teamwork, compensation and benefits packages, and conflict resolution, then you may want to consider a career as a human resources manager (if you haven’t already!). This field offers excellent pay, consistent working hours, and even though it’s a senior-level position, it offers plenty of room for advancement.


If becoming a human resources manager sounds promising to you, then read on below; we’ll fill you in on what you’d be doing, how much you could make, and what you need to do to get into this field!



Education and Experience You’ll Need

Most employers will want you to have a diploma or a degree in Human Resources, or a closely related field, such as Industrial Relations. In addition, you will likely need a few years worth of work experience in human resources roles of progressive responsibility.


For example, many HR managers start off in roles of lesser responsibility, such as Recruiter or HR Coordinator, and work their way up the ranks.


Please Note: You can also move into the profession with management experience in other business areas, complemented with an education in Human Resources or a related field.





Certification You Might Need

Although not often a formal requirement, some employers give preference to candidates with some sort of certification in human resources. Check with your local, regional or national human resources association to see what certification programs and options they offer.  



Required Skills

In order to be effective in your role as HR manager, you’ll need to have a certain knowledge base, as well as certain skills, including:


• Thorough knowledge of contemporary human resources practices

• Thorough working knowledge of federal, provincial/state, and local employment laws

• Thorough knowledge of development/performance management techniques and best practices

• Ability to align HR programs/services with corporate strategic direction

• An understanding of how to develop and administer compensation and benefits plans

• Proficiency with various HR software programs, as well as other programs, such as Microsoft Office Suite

• Able to balance the strengths and weaknesses of different options and decide the best course of action

• Able to use strong leadership skills to direct a staff and oversee the operations of the HR department



What You Would Be Doing: General Job Description

As a human resources (HR) manager, you would be responsible for virtually anything and everything regarding your organization’s employees.


You would plan, organize, direct and evaluate policies, programs and procedures regarding personnel planning, recruitment, collective bargaining, training and development as well as pay and benefit administration.


You would also consult with top executives regarding your organization’s strategic planning. You would identify ways to maximize the value of your organization’s employees and ensure that they are used as efficiently as possible.


For example, you might assess worker productivity and recommend changes to your organization’s employment structure to help it meet budgetary goals.



Typical Job Duties

Although the functions you would perform could vary from job to job, tasks you would be responsible for performing might include:


• Acting as a liaison between employees and executive management

• Conferring with departmental managers to plan personnel requirements

• Overseeing the recruitment, interview, selection, and hiring processes

• Handling staffing issues, such as mediating disputes and directing disciplinary procedures

• Coordinating internal and external recruitment and training activities

• Planning and overseeing employee compensation and benefits packages

• Ensuring compliance with relevant employment legislation

• Administering employee development programs

• Organizing and conducting employee information sessions regarding employment policy, benefits and compensation





Is HR Management Right for You?

You’ll be very well suited for a career as a human resources manager if the following traits describe you:


• You’re interested in an office-based career that offers a great salary, and a lot of responsibility

• You have a keen interest in employment legislation

• You have exceptional organizational and communication skills

• You have a cooperative team approach, and positive attitude among fellow staff

• You enjoy directing the work of others

• You have an interest in devising and administering personnel related programs, such as recruiting

• You'd like to work with multiple levels of personnel within an organization, from entry level employees to senior executives



What Kind of Salary Can You Earn?

The salary level you could earn as a human resources manager can vary, typically depending on the following factors:


• Your professional qualifications (education, experience, etc.)

• The size and budget of your employer

• The industry in which you work

• The region in which you work

• The scope of your job duties



Human Resources Manager Salary - Canada: According to the 2019 Alberta Wage and Salary Survey, the average salary level of Albertans working in the Human Resources Managers occupational group is $98,845 per year, while in B.C., those in the same occupational group earn an annual provincial median salary of $79,997, according to WorkBC. Unfortunately, no similar statistics were available from reliable sources for other Canadian provinces or territories at the time of writing (October 7, 2019).


HR Manager Salary - United States: According to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median salary level of Americans working in the Human Resources Managers occupational group is $113,300 per year (May, 2018 statistics).



Who Employs HR Managers?

Human resources managers can be employed by virtually any organization: small, medium and large organizations in the business, government and non-profit worlds. Very small organizations tend to not employ HR managers, as they simply may not have the need or budget for it.



Human Resources Manager Job Postings

Our job board below has "HR Manager" postings in Canada, the United States, the United Kingdom and Australia.




Career Advancement Possibilities

Even though this is considered a senior-level field, there will be many opportunities to move into other roles or to otherwise advance your career. Some forms of career advancement that will be open to you may include:


• Working for yourself as an HR consultant

• Moving into executive management roles, such as VP of Operations, or CEO

• Becoming an owner or partner in your organization

• Becoming a specialist in an area such as labor relations, or union organization 



Work Environment

As an HR manager, your work would be based out of an office, and you would likely work during normal, weekday working hours (9-5 or similar). You may occasionally be required to work overtime, or to travel for the purpose of attending meetings, training sessions, visiting your organization’s facilities/offices, or to carry out other job duties.



Similar Occupations

Listed below are occupations in our database that have similar responsibilities, and/or require similar skills, or be in the same sector of industry, as this one:


• Benefits Officer

• Chief Operating Officer (COO)

• Employee Relations Officer

• Human Resources Coordinator

• Labour Organizer

• Recruiter

• Volunteer Coordinator




Information for this career guide was compiled from the websites listed below. Some information has also been compiled from actual job postings from various organizations, which cannot be listed here due to the brief nature of their online availability.


Wages & Salaries in Alberta:Human Resources Managers.” (n.d.). ALIS website - Alberta Learning Information Service. Retrieved December 21, 2019.

Management:Human Resources Managers.” (September 4, 2019). Occupational Outlook Handbook - United States Bureau of Labor Statistics website. Retrieved December 21, 2019.

Explore Careers:Human resources Managers.” (December 11, 2018). WorkBC website. Retrieved December 21, 2019.

Best Jobs:Canada’s Best Jobs 2015: Human Resources Manager.” CB Staff (April 23 2015) Canadian Business website. Retrieved December 21, 2019.

Careers: How to Become a HR Manager - Career Salaries, Job Stats & Education.” (n.d.) Open Colleges Australia website. Retrieved December 21, 2019.



Scholarships for Becoming a Human Resources Manager

The “Applicable Majors” section below shows fields of study relevant for becoming a human resources manager. You can search for scholarships matched to those fields of study on our All Scholarships by Major page. All scholarships found on those pages will be relevant to this occupation.


Success Tip: Be sure to apply for any scholarships that you even barely qualify for, as there are millions of dollars of scholarships that go unused every year due to a lack of applicants!



Applicable Majors

Studying one of the college/university majors listed below can be helpful for working as an HR manager. Click on the links to find out what else you can do with these majors!


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