How to Become a Human Resources Manager

Ginger Abbot

Feb 12, 2023

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Across the United States, over 800,000 Americans have chosen to work in human resources — evidence of a lucrative, fulfilling field with plenty of opportunities.

Regardless of industry, any company that employs workers necessitates HR professionals to manage the employee life cycle. 

Students wondering whether there’s a job out there with ever-lasting demand and the chance to obtain higher management roles might want to pursue an HR degree. This guide will help explain the best path toward becoming a human resources manager. 

What Do Human Resources Managers Do?

Human resources managers are responsible for planning and implementing organizational functions within the company and their respective departments. Generally, the HR department oversees the following processes:

  • Creating and publishing job listings 
  • Screening and interviewing applicants
  • Hiring and retention programs
  • New-start orientations
  • Promotions
  • Coordinating staff training
  • Performance reviews
  • Employment verifications

Ultimately, human resources managers aim to put people at the forefront, developing employee benefits programs, perks, and health insurance packages. 

They also serve as mediators to resolve employee conflicts and understand the consequences of a toxic workplace — employees are 10.4 times more likely to quit when they feel disrespected or endure unethical behavior.

Those who become human resources managers often find themselves in a position to maximize employees’ value and boost productivity. Following the coronavirus pandemic, HR is transforming processes, with 67% of HR professionals set on improving the employee experience and 95% integrating new technologies for elevated services.

What are the Required Education, Skills, and Certification?

You need the proper education and skills if you hope to become a successful HR manager. It also helps to pursue various certifications to demonstrate your expertise. The following sections are recommended pathways to enter the field.


Human resources managers gain essential skills within their college programs. Although many HR professionals have at least a bachelor’s degree, some companies prefer a master’s degree in HR management.

Those who acquire a master’s degree are usually more equipped with today’s most desirable HR skills. Most human resources programs cover the following course topics:

  • Company culture
  • Staffing and recruitment
  • Performance management
  • Training and professional development
  • Employment law
  • HR information systems
  • Compensation 
  • Mediation counseling

Your passions are central to determining your purpose in life. An HR management degree might be worth your time if you get excited about serving others, new learning opportunities, and developing structure and efficiency to help an organization meet its goals.


Human resources managers must recognize the areas they excel in and where they need to improve to be influential leaders. The most essential skills of HR managers include the following:

  • Communication
  • Analytical thinking
  • Flexibility and adaptability
  • Empathy
  • Active listening
  • Organization
  • Resource management
  • Confidentiality
  • Collaboration and team-building
  • Complex problem-solving skills

Because the field is human-centric, HR managers must also have a high level of emotional intelligence to avoid taking out their stress on others and communicate more effectively.  


Certification is typically voluntary for HR experts but could provide more career growth and professional development opportunities. They also demonstrate a more elevated level of leadership expertise and credibility. 

Some companies might require HR managers to obtain certification from an accredited HR program or professional association, such as the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) or HR Certification Insitute (HRCI). 

Typically, these certification programs require HR managers to recertify their credentials every few years. 

What’s the Average Salary for Human Resources Managers?

A recent graduate beginning their career as an HR specialist can expect to earn about $46,541 in their first year. However, the nationwide average salary for HR specialists is about $53,109 annually.

As they work up the career ladder to a managerial role, they can make as much as $111,648, depending on their education, certifications, skills and experience, and industry.

With the rising cost of living, HR management careers might offer some relief to those eager for a steady, livable salary. 

Employment Growth for Human Resources

There’s also much to look forward to in terms of employment growth. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), projections show a 7% increase in HR manager vacancies through 2031, equating to 16,300 openings annually. 

The corporate landscape is advancing rapidly with the rise of remote and hybrid work, requiring skilled HR managers to streamline operations and reevaluate talent management for improved hiring and retention.

For example, change fatigue has impacted employee performance and decreased confidence in corporate leaders. Yet, studies show that employees absorb change 2.6 times better when they’ve established trust in their managers and teams. 

Therefore, HR managers must utilize their collaborative, team-building, and empathetic skills to foster productive working relationships and rebuild employee trust and job satisfaction.

Human resources managers must also develop enticing benefits packages for today’s diverse workforce. Health insurance, paid parental leave, retirement savings plans, gym memberships, student loan assistance, and flexible work schedules are still the most popular benefits to retain employees and prevent burnout. 

However, HR managers are now navigating newer perks demands, especially from millennial workers who put off starting a family to establish their careers. Today, 70% of millennials are interested in fertility benefits, including in-vitro fertilization and egg freezing. 

Human resources managers are also essential for ensuring compliance with complicated labor laws, diversity and inclusion, health care plans and retirement programs.

Do You Have What it Takes to Become a Human Resources Manager?

Students who’ve been told they exhibit a high level of empathy, appreciate communicating and serving others, and hope for continuous learning are likely the perfect fit for a human resources manager career. Those who enter the workforce with an HR degree will be happy to find they have several opportunities for a fulfilling career.

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