How to Advance on an HR Career Path in 2021

Human resources, intrinsic to the functioning of almost all organizations, makes for a great career choice with a lot of learning across multiple people skills

hen we talk of human resources (HR), we think of a department that looks at hiring, appraising, paying salaries, and doing a few more routine tasks. From the perspective of an organization, it is a function whose aim is to maximize the performance of employees in relation to the strategic objectives of the employer. The people are the most valuable assets of an organization, and HR aims to manage them in a strategic and coherent manner.

How old is HR?

Quite. Let us take a look at the timeline of HR, from its roots to modern times:

  • Prehistoric times: This is where the roots of HR lie, as per the European Journal of Business and Management. In that era, safety and health considerations were part of the selection process for tribal leaders.
  • 2000–1500 BC: The Chinese used employee screening techniques, and the Greeks used an apprentice system to select and train individuals for jobs.
  • 1700s (AD): This is where the beginnings of modern HR lie — with the Industrial Revolution. Large factories replaced cottage industries, and the sizable workforce populations required personnel functions to manage their concerns. Trade unions came up with the division between the working class and management, and they raised a voice for human rights.
  • Early 1900s: National governments started getting involved in work systems. They passed legislation that regulated work for women and children, established minimum wages for male labor, and protected workers from hazardous working conditions. Management theorists began examining the nature of work and work systems, drawing on current psychological and sociological research.
  • Present day: In the present era, a number of new themes and factors emerged in HR. Over the course of an HR career, an HR employee looks at collective bargaining and employment laws, computerization, employee benefits, automation, and globalizations.

Is HR a good career choice?

An HR career is a compelling choice for a number of reasons. Some of these are enumerated below:

· Good pay packages: Entry-level positions start at $40,000–50,000, with senior positions breaching the six-figure mark.

· Growing opportunities: Some low-level HR functions are being automated; despite this, the US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) expects the employment of HR specialists to grow by 5% during 2018–2028.

HR professionals have a chance to make a real impact on workers, by meeting the fundamental needs of finding top talent and training new hires. There are a number of other ways in which the HR department can help employees of the organization:

· Sorting out their issues with senior managers

· Granting benefits when they have children

· Guiding their career progress so they can provide better for their families

What are the educational requirements for a career in HR?

There are different ways to begin a HR career. You could get into it as soon as you finish college, or you could move into an HR role from a different field. The following educational requirements should be kept in mind:

· Bachelor’s degree: This is often a prerequisite for many HR job openings. The degree typically needs to be in disciplines such as human resources, business, or related subjects such as psychology or sociology. It is a key step for a student to develop a basic grounding in HR, and learn the rules and laws.

· Master’s degree: Often required for jobs higher up the ladder, such as HR Director or Chief Learning Officer, learning imparted spans professional ethics, business strategy, data-driven metrics, and more.

· Certification: Certifications for HR professionals are a testament to their specialized knowledge and skills in the field. These typically require less time to complete when compared to a degree program, and are chosen either as a way to enter the HR field or to accelerate the career progress and take on additional roles to supplement the work experience. This can be done on a part-time basis as well — in the form of an online HR certification — so that it can be managed along with full-time employment for someone who cannot take time off from a job.

What roles are available in the HR field?

As a candidate moves along the HR career path, the following are the roles that can be taken on:

👉HR assistant:

o Facilitation of HR processes, administrative paperwork, and other responsibilities

o A bachelor’s degree is often the minimum required

👉HR specialist:

o Focuses on one specific task or role within the department, along with assisting with daily operations

o Requires strong team skills; computer skills are handy; and a bachelor’s degree is often the minimum required

👉HR generalist:

o Wide range of duties, along with reviewing company policies and suggesting changes

o Similar skills and education required as HR specialists

👉HR manager:

o Overseeing policies, procedures, and compliance relating to employees; active in daily operations

o Requires excellent leadership, multitasking, and problem-solving skills; a bachelor’s degree is the minimum requirement

👉HR director:

o Heading several departments within HR; serves as a strategic partner to other HR functions and the company leadership

o Requires interpersonal, managerial, organizational, and computer skills; master’s degree may be needed


o Administrative role that typically reports to the CEO and senior staff; involves supervising all HR administration for the company

o Typically requires 8–10 years’ experience supervising the HR function; a master’s degree is often preferred

📫 My other Stories on HR Career:

  1. A Guide to start and advance in an HR career — 2020
  2. The Top Certifications for HR and Talent Management in 2020
  3. Talent Management vs. HRM: What’s what?

Human Resource Professional. Passionate about Human Resources. Writing has always been a passion with strong interest in talent management & HR Industry.