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How to Start an HR Career: Tips, Training, and Skills

Human resources is a field you’ve always been interested in, but you admittedly have no idea what the first step is to achieve a career in HR. What do you need to do to work in human resources?

Here’s how to start an HR career:

  • Earn your degree
  • Pick up skills and qualifications
  • Add a few certifications
  • Update your resume
  • Network
  • Apply for jobs

In this guide to starting an HR career, we’ll discuss the training and qualifications needed to find a job as an HR specialist. We’ll also share our top tips for creating a career in HR!

Is Human Resources a Good Career?

If you are spending the time earning a degree and relevant certifications, you’ll want to select a future career with stability and longevity.

Fortunately, a role as a human resources specialist is both a desirable and stable role.

As an HR specialist, you will play a critical role in your company. Your work environment can be almost anywhere, from retail to service industries, non-profits, businesses of all sizes, production and manufacturing facilities, finance and insurance firms, government agencies, and business consulting groups.

Any growing company needs an HR professional like you!

You’ll help place workers in the best position for them and direct the company’s employee onboarding and training.

You’ll oversee employee compensation, making sure that everyone’s checks go out on time and reach the right person. When an employee wants to take time off or needs a sick day, that all goes through you, as does an employee’s benefits such as healthcare benefits.

You would also manage employee relations. If a dispute arises between two employees, you might be called on to solve the manner.

According to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics or BLS, the job outlook for HR specialists between 2020 and 2030 is solid, as available jobs will increase by 10 percent. It’s estimated 70,200 new HR roles will be added.

What Skills Are Needed for HR?

In the next section, we’ll review what qualifications are required to enter the exciting field of HR. For now, let’s review the skills you need to excel in the role of an HR specialist.

Business Management

As an HR specialist, you’ll be expected to have a strong grasp of the organization and coordination of business activities. You’ll naturally build on these skills the longer you stay with the company.


HR specialists must be able to communicate in a clear, concise, and easily understood way. That includes verbal and nonverbal communication, such as sending a company-wide email memo or sitting down for a one-on-one conversation.

Finance Skills

Since you oversee employee payments, bonus checks, and benefits, you must have a clear understanding of how these topics work. You don’t need to be a math whiz to work in HR, but basic financial skills will make it easier for you to excel in your job.

Decision-Making Abilities

There can be no waffling as an HR professional. Whether you’re mediating an issue between two employees or working with a manager to approve sick or vacation time, you must be confident and assertive in your choices.

Once those decisions go into effect, you can’t wonder if you made the right choice. You have to be ready to move on to the next task on your to-do list for the day.


Considering you’re the one managing payroll, benefits, and other sensitive financial matters for employees, an HR specialist is expected to keep a pristine office. These organizational skills should translate to digital files as well.   

Technological Mastery

In your role, you’ll probably be asked to use different computer programs and software such as Microsoft Office. You must be willing to learn these technologies quickly and adapt.

Whether it’s within your wheelhouse to help an employee with their concerns or if they should seek legal counsel is something you might have to deal with from time to time as an HR specialist. You should have at least basic legal knowledge as it applies to employees and their rights.

Active Listening

When an employee goes to you with a problem, it’s usually to brainstorm a workable solution. You need to be able to actively listen, which means distraction-free listening. That’s the only way to truly grasp what you’re hearing so you can come up with a suitable solution.

How to Start an HR Career

Are you ready to get your HR career underway? Here are the steps you need to follow.

Earn Your Degree

First, you need to select a college or university to earn your human resources management degree. You can choose a more traditional, on-campus route, or an online, more flexible route. Make sure you choose the college that fits what you need. Once you complete your associate’s degree, consider furthering your education by obtaining your bachelor’s degree.

Did you know that BU offers a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration degree with a concentration in Human Resources Management? As a BU Human Resources Management student, you’ll build a solid foundation of skills such as talent acquisition, strategic management, finance & operations management, negotiation & conflict management, and more.

By the time you graduate from the program with your associate’s or bachelor’s degree, you’ll be more than ready to excel as a human resources specialist.

Add a Few Certifications

Upon graduating with your associate degree in human resources management, you could begin seeking out employment immediately.

Alternatively, if you want to beef up your resume, even more, you might add a few HR certifications to your list of experiences. Certification proves your mastery in an HR area or concept.

Another HR certification to pursue is the Associate Professional in Human Resources or aPHR, issued through the HR Certification Institute or HRCI.

The aPHR exam tests your abilities in HR-related areas such as talent acquisition, learning and development, compensation and benefits, employee relations, and compliance and risk management.

Bryan University prepares its students for the Society for HR Management, Certified Professional, SHRM-CP, certificate at no extra charge! It will help build your resume and establish your credibility in the marketplace.

Some online universities even offer you the opportunity to earn the aPHR certification while you’re still a student in the human resources management program. You’ll be able to graduate with your certificate and move right on to hunting for your first HR job. 

Update Your Resume

You have relevant experience and qualifications to add to your resume and maybe even a certification or two! As you prepare to enter the job field and send your resume out to many a hiring manager, you want it to be as current as possible.


Now it’s time to begin finding job leads. Networking at local HR events in your neighborhood or adjoining cities is one helpful way to find job openings.

Also, connect with friends, family, classmates, and colleagues. You never know who someone else might know, and that just could be enough to get your foot in the door!

Some online colleges, such as Bryan University, offer career services recent and former graduates. You can spruce up your resume and cover letter, find leads, and otherwise receive assistance as you get ready for this next exciting stage of your life.

Apply for Jobs

Once you find a suitable HR role, it’s time to apply for the job. With your qualifications, you should be called in for an interview. Then it’s up to you to knock it out of the park.

Upon being hired as an HR specialist, you’ll be able to put the skills you learned to work every single day!

Can You Get into HR with No Experience?

What if you don’t have any relevant job experience? Can you still begin a career in HR?

Possibly, yes!

If you don’t have a degree in HR, then at the very least, you should have a semi-relevant degree such as organizational psychology or business.

Many certifications require applicants to have years of related experience in their field before applying, but the aPHR exam is not one of them. Even if you’ve never been hired for an HR job before, you can take the exam.

Ready to Start Your Career in Human Resources?

Do you want to kickstart your HR career?

Bryan University’s Associate Degree in Human Resources Management program is the way to do it.

As a student at Bryan U, you’ll learn everything from teamwork to ethics to finances and payroll so you can be the most effective HR specialist. You’ll also get to use real technologies that HR professionals use every single day.

You have the chance to earn two certifications that will make you a star job candidate as you look for your first HR job. The certifications are Microsoft Excel and the aPHR certification.

The cost to take your exams is covered by Bryan U (for the first attempt). With the knowledge you collect in the Associate Degree in Human Resources Management program, you’ll be ready to pass and earn your certification.

With your degree, your HR career could land you in such esteemed positions as operations manager, administrative services manager, payroll clerk, benefits assistant, assistant recruiter, human resources generalist, or human resources assistant.

Looking to take your education a step further? Keep in mind Bryan University’s Bachelor of Science in Business Administration degree with a concentration in Human Resources Management for your future endeavors

To learn more about Bryan University’s Associate Degree in Human Resources Management, request information today!

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