A career in human resources can be a fulfilling and financially rewarding choice for those who are business-minded and enjoy working with people. There are excellent job prospects in the field of HR with lots of opportunities to progress and develop specialist expertise.
Stepping onto the first rung of the HR career ladder usually requires an academic background. If you want to pursue a career in human resources, read on to learn about the three qualifications that will help you get started.
1. Bachelor’s degree
Many employers expect candidates to have a bachelor’s degree because those who are educated to degree level typically have the strong reading, writing and analysis skills necessary for HR roles. Some colleges and universities offer HR bachelor programs, but it isn’t necessary to have a HR degree. Communications, sociology, social sciences, business, and psychology are all suitable related subjects that can help to prepare you for a career in HR.
Even if you have a degree in a seemingly unrelated subject, it could still equip you with useful skills for a HR role. For example, math degrees can be useful for HR jobs that focus on employee compensation and benefits, and education degrees are ideal for roles that involve employee training. Look for jobs that complement the skills or knowledge you acquired during your degree to get started on the career ladder. Once you’ve attained your first job, you can learn more about different types of HR roles and focus on growing your skills in the area that interests you most.
2. MBA in Human Resources
If you already have a bachelor’s degree, a business master’s degree could give you an edge over other candidates when entering the job market. It could also help you access roles with higher rates of pay and greater levels of responsibility thanks to the advanced business and management knowledge you’ll develop at business school.
Entry requirements for MBAs vary between institutions, but many require a bachelor’s degree in a relevant subject and a good score in either the GMAT (Graduate Management Admission Test) or the GRE (Graduate Record Examination). MBAs are intensive programs so it’s important to assess your existing skillset to determine if it’s the right qualification for you. Skills necessary for a business degree include communication, critical thinking, analytical thinking, and numeracy; you’ll also need to be a logical, organized, and self-reliant individual.
3. HRCI’s aPHR certification
The Human Resources Certification Institute sets the standards for HR excellence and expertise, and while certification with the HRCI isn’t essential for a career in the industry, it can be incredibly helpful. There are several types of certifications available, including those at senior professional level designed to reflect extensive experience in the industry. The Associate Professional in Human Resources (aPHR) is designed for people who are just beginning their career in HR and want to demonstrate their knowledge of general industry-specific principles. It can help you start on the career ladder if you don’t have a relevant degree or don’t want to go to college for a HR or business degree.
You do not need a degree or experience in a previous HR role to apply for aPHR certification, but you will need adequate knowledge of basic HR concepts in order to pass the exam. Topics covered in the exam are:
· Compliance and risk management
· Employee relations
· Talent acquisition
· Compensation and benefits
· Learning and development
The aPHR certificate is valid for three years and after this point recertification is necessary to prove continuing competence. Recertification is achieved by gaining credits via professional educational courses, self-directed learning, or on-the-job training or achievements. You might find that recertification isn’t necessary once you’ve established yourself on the career ladder, but it can help you to further boost your career by demonstrating your commitment to ongoing professional development.
Get your career off to a flying start
There are many ways to start a career in HR, and some people find that qualifications aren’t necessary if they’re able to acquire relevant skills and experience in non-HR roles. To optimize your chances of success and get your career off to a flying start, it’s definitely helpful to have at least one of the qualifications outlined above.
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