How to Become a Human Resource Manager

Although artificial intelligence and other advanced technologies are rapidly changing the workplace, there is no role as critical as the people who keep the economic world turning. It takes skilled, dedicated professionals to oversee these vital human resources, starting from the time they are candidates seeking employment and spanning the course of their entire career.

Acting as a bridge between employers and current and prospective employees, the human resource manager is responsible for supervising the HR department and its functions.

Let’s discuss the position in detail and explore how to become a human resource manager. We’ll look at good-to-have skills that can be helpful to the role and discover how prospective HR professionals can kick-start their career with an online BS in Human Resource Management.

About the Human Resource Manager Role

Human resource managers serve a critical function in organizations of all sizes. These skilled HR professionals oversee the administrative workings of a company’s human resource department and directly manage HR support staff.

A business needs to attract and retain top talent in the workforce, so it relies on the HR department to handle a variety of related activities that support employees and overall business management. This includes everything from recruiting and onboarding to introducing training, development and employee benefits programs and more.

Recruiting and Onboarding

  • Recruiting.
  • Interviewing.
  • Selecting candidates.
  • Onboarding new employees.
  • Issuing tax documentation.
  • Distributing the employee handbook.
  • Leading training programs and sessions.

Strategic Planning

  • Development and implementation of long-term goals.
  • Recruitment strategy.
  • Company growth.
  • Employee retention.
  • Planning, directing and coordinating activities.

Company Policy

  • Harassment prevention.
  • Diversity in the workplace.
  • Employee rights.

Employment Laws and Regulations

  • Implementing federal and state requirements.
  • Ensuring legal compliance.
  • Conducting investigations.

Compensation and Benefits

  • Ensuring compensation plans comply with regulations.
  • Designing bonus programs.
  • Creating competitive benefits packages.
  • Continually evaluating packages.

Additional Responsibilities

  • Firings.
  • Layoffs.
  • Disputes.
  • Complaints.
  • Employee reviews.
  • Labor relations with unions.
  • Related procedures.

All of these activities are part of the HR manager’s goal of protecting the interests and well-being of employees and employers alike.

HR manager conducting an interview.

Skills HR Managers Should Have

An ability to demonstrate the right combination of skills will help prospective HR managers secure employment. O*NET identifies certain software programs as being “hot technologies” that are frequently listed as requirements in job descriptions. These include:

  • Accounting programs.
  • Enterprise resource planning (ERP) tools.
  • Human resources systems.
  • Document management programs.
  • Time accounting software.

In addition to having familiarity with these technologies, professionals need strong communication and interpersonal skills to thrive in HR management. Human resource managers spend much of the workday communicating over the phone, through email and via in-person meetings. Therefore, they must be good listeners and possess excellent written and verbal communication skills.

A knack for problem-solving and critical thinking also comes in handy. Decision-making skills are essential when it comes to HR responsibilities: choosing the right candidate for a job, selecting a suitable health insurance plan for their company’s benefits package and so on.

How to Become an HR Manager

The right combination of proper education, work experience and certifications may help prospective HR managers secure a role in their field. While certifications are not always necessary, they can be a valuable asset and are highly recommended.


The first step toward a career in human resources is typically a bachelor’s degree in human resources or a related field, such as business administration, finance or information technology. Prospective students who are specifically interested in becoming an HR manager should consider an online BS in Human Resource Management. This program, available through the University of Alabama at Birmingham, gives students the skills and knowledge needed to begin a rewarding HR career.

While a master’s degree in business or HR is typically the highest level of education an employer may seek for the HR manager role, a bachelor’s degree in a related field is often all that is required from an educational standpoint. The Occupational Information Network (O*NET) reported that 74% of HR managers hold a bachelor’s degree, whereas only 9% have a master’s degree. However, to increase chances of success, students also need to be thinking about gaining relevant work experience and obtaining certifications.

Work Experience

To become eligible for this management-level position, an emerging human resource professional will need to gain a sufficient amount of work experience. Working an entry-level position in a human resources department is a great place to start. As an HR specialist, coordinator or assistant, they will serve an important support role and report directly to the company’s HR manager. This early-career experience can be seen as a valuable opportunity for HR professionals to become familiar with the inner workings of an HR department, gain specialized knowledge about the industry they are a part of and begin to demonstrate leadership abilities and decision-making skills.

With about five or more years of experience, an HR specialist may have access to promotion opportunities within their own organization, or they might advance to a managerial position at another company.

HR Certification

A professional certification, such as the Professional in Human Resources (PHR) designation, can also help candidates stand out on the job market. Additionally, participation in professional membership organizations like the Society for Human Resources Management can help HR professionals expand their network, stay up to date on the latest industry news and best practices and deepen their knowledge and skills.

While not required, these types of credentials demonstrate a dedication to the human resources field and a commitment to continuing education and industry involvement. They can also directly impact an HR professional’s career growth. PayScale has reported that 70% of PHR-certified HR assistants were promoted within five years, compared to just 33% of their uncertified peers. Moreover, 29% of HR managers hold a PHR certification or its advanced counterpart, the Senior Professional in Human Resources (SPHR). This enables them to earn at least $10,000 more per year than their uncertified counterparts.

Average Earnings for a Human Resources Manager

The median annual salary for HR managers was $116,720 in 2021, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). This rate is nearly three times the median annual pay across all occupations, making it a highly rewarding career choice for professionals with a bachelor’s degree and an interest in HR.

Pay rates will vary based on geographic location, level of experience and industry. As reported by PayScale, entry-level HR managers may see earnings in the $50,000 to $70,000 range. Six-figure salaries are often reserved for mid- to late-career professionals.

The BLS noted that HR managers in the technical, scientific and professional service sectors have the highest earning potential — with the high salaries coming with long working hours. An O*NET survey revealed that 92% of human resource managers work more than 40 hours per week.

Job Outlook for Human Resource Management

According to the BLS, the job market for HR managers is growing at a rate of 7%, which they classify as “just as fast as average.” This will result in about 12,600 new jobs over the course of the next decade.

Earn a Bachelor of Science in HR Management Online Through UAB

The University of Alabama at Birmingham’s online BS in Human Resource Management prepares students for the demands of an exciting career in HR. Courses cover essential HR topics including:

  • Employment law.
  • Organizational behavior.
  • Compensation administration.
  • Organizational staffing.
  • Employee development.
  • Management and leadership.
  • Diversity in the workplace.
  • HR technologies.

Online students have the opportunity to study at their own pace while boosting their professional network through the Collat School of Business. Students can leverage internship experiences, mentorship programs, projects with real-world relevance and UAB’s Career & Professional Development Services as they begin a career in human resources.

For more information regarding our online BS in Human Resource Management and the other online bachelor’s degree programs available through UAB’s Collat School of Business, get in touch with an enrollment advisor today.


Recommended Readings:

Online BS Degree in Human Resource Management | UAB Online Degrees

How to Become an HR Training and Development Manager

Explore the Career of an HR Specialist



BLS — Human Resources Managers

O*NET — Human Resources Managers

PayScale — Average Entry-Level Human Resources Manager Salary

PayScale — The Value of the PHR and SPHR

SHRM — About