A career in human resources can be a fantastic path to take if you love working with people and have a genuine interest in helping run a business well. But although HR jobs focus around the human element of a business, they require much more than just being personable. There’s a lot of planning, negotiation and analysis that goes into ensuring job success. But the rewards can be fantastic. Here’s what you can expect from a career in human resources and the average HR salary.
What does someone in Human Resources do?
Just like any other career, your tasks will depend on your job title and experience in the field. HR departments exist across all business sectors, so there’s really no end to the possibilities when it comes to the fields you can work in.
Some of the tasks you’ll be required to undertake will be applicable at any level of the role, while other tasks would be reserved for highly experienced human resource managers only. Some of the general tasks you can expect to deal with while working in human resources are:
- Assisting employee recruitment and championing diversity
- Dealing with employee records
- Filing complaints and organising disciplinary procedures
- Overseeing employee relations and services including welfare and counselling
- Health and safety management
- Organising training and development initiatives
- Striving for a better workplace for all, working closely with managers
- Ensuring pay and benefits are correct for each employee
HR professionals in higher positions can expect jobs with more risk and responsibility involved, including writing employee handbooks, developing HR procedures and policies, and advising on difficult matters like redundancy, employment law and pay negotiations.
How to get into HR
You’ll usually need at least three GCSEs in English, Maths and Science with grades 9 to 4 (A* to C) to start an entry-level career in HR. Work experience in an office is also desirable but not essential. However, this is a competitive field so the more experience and knowledge you have the better.
If you’re looking for a long-term career in human resources and want to progress through the ranks, you are likely to require a qualification specific to the job.
There are various ways to get a recognised HR qualification. You can choose a full degree in Human Resource Management which will provide you with the skills to suit most HR jobs and allow you to specialise in certain areas. Alternatively, you might decide to complete an HND (Higher National Diploma) in Human Resource Management. These courses act as the equivalent of two-thirds of a full degree and focus entirely on vocational practices that you can expect to use during your role in an HR position.
However, university courses are not the only option. If you are unable to study full time, you can take a professional HR qualification with the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD), the UK’s professional body for HR and development. These qualifications can be studied remotely, part-time or online. This allows you to fit your learning around your lifestyle and gain a recognised certificate or diploma in HR. With a Level 3 CIPD course, you could gain a role as an HR Administrator, whereas the Level 5 courses are aimed at those with more experience and lead towards HR management roles.
What’s the average Human Resources salary?
According to the National Careers Service, HR jobs have salaries ranging from £15,000 to £50,000, depending on the role and experience of the individual.
The average salary in human resources is £36,000, but those with more experience and CIPD qualifications can expect to earn way beyond £50k per year. But be aware, these higher-level roles and human resources salaries do come with much greater expectations and responsibilities.
Some typical salaries:
- Human Resources Assistant / Administrator: £17-23k per year
- Resource Planning Analyst: £21-32k per year
- Talent Acquisition / HR Advisor: £20-50k per year
- Human Resources Manager / Business Partner / Associate: £30-150k per year
What do HR roles involve?
As should now be clear, there’s more to human resources than interviewing and supporting the workforce of your company. Read on and find out what each role in human resources involves.
Human Resources Assistant/Administrator
HR assistants are predominantly involved in administrative work. The role works as an entry point into all things HR and is often used as a stepping stone to higher positions. As an HR assistant, your job will involve documenting grievances, absences, reports and holiday requests, but will also include some tasks in recruitment, interviews and staff training.
Resource Planning Analyst
As a resource planning analyst, you will be responsible for preparing budget, forecasting and managing staff resources, as well as scheduling recommendations for training, staff development, and new job roles. The role will include working alongside HR managers and directors, providing them with data and support for enhancing internal and external partnerships.
HR advisor positions are one of the most common beyond administrator level. These roles involve a broad scope of HR responsibilities from writing job descriptions to conducting interviews, helping with disciplinaries and providing training. They require high levels of organisational and administrative skills, as well as impeccable communication, conflict management and knowledge of recruitment law.
As a HR manager, you’ll oversee the planning, directing, and co-ordination of the whole HR process within your company. This will include top level control of salary and benefits, team-building and development, communication between departments, training, and employer relations.
An HR director role is similar to that of an HR manager with some slight differences. The big difference is that directors generally take more of a consultatory position. This means you’ll take a step away from day-to-day management and provide supervision over the HR process, rather than playing an active role.
What courses are available to achieve a role in HR?
There are numerous HR courses available both online and in classroom scenarios. Most important is to choose a qualification that is accredited and recognised by the industry. For this, we recommend CIPD courses. As industry leaders in HR, their courses are highly prized by employers in need of HR professionals at all levels. A Level 3 course will be suitable for those looking at entry positions, while those with prior qualifications or experience will be most suited to a Level 5. Read on for more information.
CIPD Level 3 Foundation Certificate & Diploma in HR Practice
The CIPD Level 3 Foundation Certificate provides a solid understanding of all areas of Human Resources. Providing you with the basics and then developing your skills further, this course gives those with limited HR experience a great entry route into the industry.
The CIPD Level 3 Diploma in HR Practice goes a little further than the certificate. This course includes modules in delivering learning and development initiatives and supporting change within an organisation, both essential areas in contributing to the success of an organisation.
Potential HR careers and average salaries with this qualification:
- HR Administrator: £21k per year
- HR Assistant: £23k per year
CIPD Level 5 Intermediate Certificate & Diploma in HR Management
The CIPD Level 5 Intermediate Certificate centres around developing professional practice over six different modules. It includes learning about the context of HR, resourcing, talent planning, and employment law.
The CIPD Level 5 Diploma in HR Management includes two further units to the intermediate certificate, meaning you’ll have studied eight by the time you complete. The big difference between this course and the certificate is the focus on gaining leadership and management skills and how increasing employee engagement leads to positive business outcomes. You’ll study a range of HR theories and approaches as well as how to put these into practice, boosting potential HR manager salary.
Potential roles and average HR salaries with this qualification:
- HR Analyst: £32k per year
- HR Advisor: £32k per year
- HR Business Partner: £47k per year
Necessary skills for HR roles
Many people assume that working in human resources only involves helping people, making their life easier and being the ‘good guy’. However, this isn’t always the case. Like in every job, sometimes there are tough tasks to undertake such as delivering news about redundancies, disciplinaries or dealing with employee complaints.
Having a qualification can only get you so far. Doing the job well also requires certain characteristics from individuals. Therefore, it’s helpful for those looking at HR jobs to know that it will help a lot if you possess the following traits:
- Fantastic listening skills
- Able to negotiate and collaborate with people at all levels
- Good at multi-tasking
If you have these personal skills and put in the effort to gain a relevant qualification and build up your experience, you have the potential for a fulfilling career in human resources!