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How to Start a Human Resources Career

Working in human resources (HR) may provide a unique perspective into a business because of how intimately involved you must be in organizational development and processes, and it allows you to make a major impact on the lives of employees.

Some professionals start careers in the human resources field as HR specialists, serving as a liaison between the employees and the business, ensuring both parties’ best interests. There are a wide variety of responsibilities HR specialists are expected to handle, including recruitment, compensation, benefits, employment law compliance, training and company policies, procedures and programs.

Most HR specialists are trained in all aspects of the human resources function. And HR roles are available in all companies, including for-profit, non-profit and private firms. Employment services (16%), professional, scientific and technical services (13%), government (12%), healthcare and social assistance (10%), and manufacturing (8%) were listed among the largest employers in 2016, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).

HR specialists earned an average annual wage of $66,220 as of May 2017, according to the BLS. Employment growth for HR specialists is projected at 7% through 2026.

How Do You Get Started in HR?

The education most employers expect of candidates for HR specialist positions is a bachelor’s degree in business administration, human resources or a related field. Coursework may include industrial relations, psychology, professional writing and accounting.

Once you’ve gained professional experience in the human resources field, continuing your education with a certification program may help take your career to the next level. Certifications are available through professional associations such as the Society for Human Resource Management and the HR Certification Institute (HRCI).

Successful HR professionals possess the following skills: written and verbal communication, relationship management, ethical practice, HR knowledge and expertise, global and cultural effectiveness, leadership and navigation, business acumen, consultation, critical evaluation, decision-making, interpersonal skills and attention to detail.

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