How to Become a Human Resource Manager

Human resource managers are the overseers of the human resources department and insurers of the functions and tasks being carried out by the HR team. They are often seen as the link between an organization’s management and its employees, as their work runs the gamut from providing consultation on strategic planning with top executives to recruiting, interviewing, and hiring new staff.

As such, HR managers are the professionals responsible for attracting, motivating, and retaining the most qualified talent by directing the administrative functions of the HR department. Due to the supervisory nature of this position, human resource managers are called upon to handle employee-related services, regulatory compliance, and employee relations, among many other tasks.

Human Resource Manager Job Description and Responsibilities

Human resource managers are responsible for ensuring that the overall administration, coordination, and evaluation of human resources plans and programs are realized. Therefore, their essential job responsibilities include:

  • Developing and administering human resources plans and procedures that relate to company personnel
  • Planning, organizing, and controlling the activities and actions of the HR department
  • Contributing to the development of HR department goals, objectives, and systems

These responsibilities involve achieving the following tasks:

  • Implementing and revising a company’s compensation program
  • Creating and revising job descriptions
  • Conducting annual salary surveys
  • Developing, analyzing, and updating the company’s salary budget
  • Developing, analyzing and updating the company’s evaluation program
  • Developing, revising, and recommending personnel policies and procedures
  • Maintaining and revising the company’s handbook on policies and procedures
  • Performing benefits administration
  • Maintaining affirmative action programs
  • Overseeing recruitment efforts for all personnel, including writing and placing job ads
  • Conducting new employee orientations and employee relations counseling
  • Overseeing exit interviews
  • Maintaining department records and reports
  • Participating in administrative staff meetings
  • Maintaining company directory and other organizational charts
  • Recommending new policies, approaches, and procedures

Although in smaller organizations human resource managers may be responsible for all of the above named duties, these HR professionals in larger organizations may have more specialized duties. In these settings, these specialized managers may be referred to as compensation and benefits managers, training and development managers, and the like.

As supervisors, human resource managers are responsible for the oversight of all employees in the HR department, which includes performance management of HR employees. For example, they would be in a position to make recommendations to an organization’s leadership based on analyses of worker productivity. Their value is often realized as they identify ways to maximize the value of the organization’s employees and ensure all human resources are being utilized as efficiently as possible.

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What it Takes to Become a Human Resource Manager

Human resource managers possess excellent decision-making, strategic thinking, leadership, interpersonal, and ethical conduct skills. Beyond these traits, however, human resource managers must be well-educated in their field of expertise.

Human resource managers typically possess a bachelor’s degree and human resources experience, although many employers prefer their human resource managers to possess a master’s degree in human resource management.

Bachelor’s degrees in human resources may be structured as:

The U.S. Department of Labor reports that candidates who possess professional certification or a master’s degree (particularly those with a concentration in HR management) likely have the best prospects to become human resource managers. Further, candidates with a solid background in policies, employment law, and human resources are also expected to enjoy more job opportunities.

As such, popular graduate degrees for human resource managers include:

  • Master of Arts/Master of Science in Human Resource Management
  • Master of Arts/Master of Science in Management with an HR concentration
  • Master of Business Administration (MBA) with a concentration in:
    • Human Resource Management/Organizational Leadership
    • Leadership Development
    • Human Capital Development
    • Organizational Behavior
    • Labor Relations
    • Industrial Relations

Professional certification for human resource managers is also commonplace with these HR professionals most often possessing one or more of the following designations:

    • Society of Human Resource Management (SHRM)
      • SHRM-CP (certified professional)
      • SHRM-SCP (senior certified professional)
  • HR Certification Institute (HRCI)
    • Professional in Human Resources (PHR)
    • Senior Professional in Human Resources (SPHR)
    • Global Professional in Human Resources (GPHR)
    • Human Resource Management Professional (HRMP)
    • Human Resource Business Professional (HRBP)
    • California Certification for PHR and SPHR certified professionals

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Salary and Job Outlook Statistics for Human Resource Managers

The U.S. Department of Labor reports that the median, annual salary among human resource managers was $99,720, as of May 2012, with the top 10 percent earning more than $173,140. The Department of Labor also reports that the number of jobs for HR managers is expected to increase 13 percent between 2012 and 2022.

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The Department of Labor predicts strong job prospects for human resource managers as new companies form and organizations expand their operations. These professionals are also expected to be in demand due to the adoption of the Affordable Care Act and complex, evolving employment laws regarding occupational health and safety and equal employment opportunity.

The industries employing the most human resource managers, as of May 2012, were:

  • Management of companies and enterprises
  • Professional, scientific, and technical services
  • Manufacturing
  • Government
  • Healthcare and social assistance

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