How to Become an HR Professional
If you're looking to start a new career and become an HR professional, then we've got you covered with the information you need to make it happen - and you don't necessarily need a graduate degree to get there.
Below we offer you a comprehensive overview of what will be expected of you as a people professional and the different routes that can take you to where you want to be.
Let's get started!
What does an HR professional do?
If you're just getting started in the HR industry, then you'll want to be clear on what an HR professional is typically responsible for.
While specific tasks may vary from job to job, an HR specialist's role is to ensure that their company, clients, or employees are properly advised on HR best practices to help them deal effectively with difficult situations and consciously grow their business by attracting the right people. The HR specialist's role includes tasks such as:
- Looking at internal HR practices, procedures, and guidelines
- Making sure company policies are implemented throughout the business
- Making recommendations as to how HR practices and operations can be improved
- Assisting with recruitment, training, and retention of employees
- Giving guidance on salary or other issues with remuneration
- Assisting with legal matters, including dismissals and disciplinary issues
How do I become an HR professional?
HR professionals come from a variety of backgrounds these days, meaning there are a number of potential routes to consider as you pursue your HR career. Below we give you an overview of the options available to you to help you decide which one best suits you.
While there are a number of qualifications that will help launch your career in Human Resources, there are none so valuable to employers and your professional development as globally recognised and industry-specific CIPD qualifications.
The Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) is the most respected HR organisation in the world, offering qualifications for HR beginners and seasoned professionals alike with the option to study full-time, part-time, or 100% online.
Here we take a look at the two CIPD qualifications we most recommend for advancing your HR career if you're just starting out.
CIPD Level 3 Foundation Certificate in People Practice
You don't need any previous qualifications or experience to study this beginner-level course. It'll teach you everything you need to know to get started by giving you an overview of the fundamental issues and principles in the HR industry. You'll learn the required practical skills and professional standards expected in the HR working environment and you'll gain a contextual understanding of HR as it applies to business.
Upon completing your CIPD Level 3 Foundation Diploma you will have the required skills for roles such as:
- HR Administrator
- Human Resources Assistant
- HR Officer
- HR Coordinator
CIPD Level 5 Associate Diploma in People Management
If you already have some HR experience, then the CIPD Level 5 Diploma is a great option if you're ready to progress in your HR career. On the other hand, if you have an industry-related degree but you don't yet have much relevant work experience, you can jump right into this course and be on your way to gaining the essential skills you need to excel in managerial and advisory HR roles including:
- HR Manager
- HR Business Partner
- HR Advisor
Alternatively, you have the option of enroling on the CIPD Level 7 Advanced Diploma, however, this course is typically recommended for people professionals with considerable experience in an HR role.
If you're looking to work as you study to gain valuable experience while you earn, then an HR apprenticeship is a great option as it's an ideal way to gain valuable and practical experience and apply your learning as it happens.
HR Apprenticeships are available at two levels, the Level 3 - HR Support Apprenticeship and the Level 5 - HR Consultant/Partner Apprenticeship.
The Level 3 Apprenticeship is equivalent to an A Level qualification and is the perfect entry-level option if you're just beginning your HR career or looking to refresh your knowledge. Alternatively, the Level 5 Apprenticeship is ideal if you already have HR leadership experience and you're looking to enhance and build on your current skills.
Whether you've just left school or you're looking to transfer from another role into HR, apprenticeships can be very beneficial, offering instant experience to HR professionals looking to move up the career ladder.
Graduate Degrees and Training Schemes
While a specialist degree in Human Resources isn't necessary to becoming an HR professional, it's still always a viable option for those looking to equip themselves with advanced job-related skills that prove valuable to a variety of industries and organizations.
It's worth mentioning, however, that if you're someone who has little to no working HR experience, there can easily be a mismatch between the level of your qualification (or degree) and your level of experience. This can make it harder for recruiters to see where you can fit into their workplace structure. So, if you can, choose a graduate degree that is more specific (similar to CIPD qualifications) and less generalised.
For information on what university courses are available, you can search online on the UCAS website. It's also recommended that you choose a course that is CIPD-accredited to ensure that you maintain industry standards and practices.
Once you've completed your graduate degree, you can then follow your qualification up by participating in an HR graduate scheme to gain experience, if you so choose.
An HR graduate scheme is a tailored training programme run by employers to train and develop HR employees, typically lasting between one and two years. They're usually available in various specialisms being that organisations in every sector need HR professionals to run effectively, meaning that you'll benefit from gaining hands-on experience while developing a comprehensive understanding of HR in the real world.
Whether you have previous experience under your belt or not, there are plenty of routes to choose from to become an HR professional. It's all about what works for you!
Still need more guidance on starting your HR career? Contact our course advisors today to chat about our globally recognised and 100% online CIPD courses.
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