Companies need every advantage in order to remain competitive and profitable. Careful management of human resources goes a long way toward making that happen. Skilled human resources managers are important to the success of an organization. If human behavior and the business world are interests of yours, becoming a human resources (HR) manager could be a rewarding and challenging career option.
While job duties will vary according to a specific employer’s needs, HR managers generally act as liaisons between employees and management – whether it’s a for-profit corporation, privately owned firm or non-profit organization. They are typically responsible for planning, implementing and coordinating activities and policies to improve the workplace.
An HR manager’s main objectives may include maintaining worker health and safety, developing a strong workforce and company culture, recruiting and retaining key employees and driving a high level of performance.
Typical duties include overseeing recruiting, hiring, training, compensation, benefits and termination activities, including establishing job requirements, implementing employee development programs, preparing policies and procedures and managing HR staff.
HR managers also develop strategic plans and policies regarding long- and short-term staffing needs based upon the organization’s goals. They may analyze compensation and benefits plans to ensure the company is in line with industry standards. They lead the development of performance standards, measurement metrics and programs to improve and reward employee performance.
Most HR managers are required to ensure their employer remains in compliance with federal and state laws regarding equal opportunity, accessibility and fair hiring practices. HR managers report to upper management and work closely with other department managers regarding employee issues.
Human Resources Manager Salary Range and Job Outlook
According to a U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) national survey, human resources managers earned a median salary of $99,720 in May 2012. Those in the top 10% earned salaries of $173,140 and above.
The BLS projects employment growth of 13% through 2022 for HR managers. Job opportunities are expected to vary, according to the needs of individual organizations, which are largely based on performance and growth. As new companies are formed, the need for human resources managers is expected to fuel additional job growth.
The changing nature of the workforce, as well as more complex employment laws, should also lead to increased demand for HR managers. The BLS indicates that, because of strong competition for many positions, candidates with advanced degrees or certifications should have the best prospects.
Employment prospects and salary ranges typically vary, based on an individual’s work history and educational qualifications, as well as on regional market conditions.
Required Knowledge and Skills
Each day, HR managers tap into their knowledge of two vastly different disciplines: human behavior and business fundamentals. Their work is challenging, strategic and focused on meeting organizational goals. Successful HR managers demonstrate the following attributes:
- Excellent written and verbal communication skills.
- Strong leadership skills.
- The ability to make sound decisions.
- Sensitivity, empathy and confidentiality.
- Negotiation skills.
- Understanding of organizational development.
- Knowledge of employment law.
Through education and work experience, you can continue developing these skills and gain valuable experience in organizing, leading and managing others.
Required and Recommended Education for Human Resources Managers
If you’ve set your sites on becoming a human resources manager, you can expect to fill an integral role that requires a broad set of skills and specialized knowledge. You can prepare by learning what employers value most and which skills will help you stand out among other candidates.
Landing a position in human resources usually takes a bachelor’s degree. HR professionals come from many disciplines, including business administration, psychology, labor relations, economics and of course – human resources. It can be helpful to augment a bachelor’s degree in another field with courses in human resources, labor relations, organizational development or industrial psychology.
HR managers often start out in entry-level positions; with more experience, they may advance to managerial roles. For higher-level positions, employers often require a master’s degree in human resources or a master’s in business administration (MBA).
The more qualifications you acquire, the more opportunities you should have to be hired and promoted throughout your career. For example, certification may be considered a valuable asset by many employers, but others may require it.
Earning a certification demonstrates a commitment to professional development and the field of human resources. It can also boost your skill set, as well as your credibility. One well-known HR certifying organization is the Society for Human Resources Management (SHRM), which offers several certifications, including the Professional in Human Resources (PHR) credential.