What is the HR Manager Career Path?

So you want to become an HR manager? Excellent choice! As one of the most important positions in any company, human resources managers play a key role in creating and maintaining a productive and positive work environment. But what does it take to succeed in this role? Keep reading for tips on how to become an HR manager and maximize your potential in this exciting career path.

What is a typical HR career path to becoming one of the most sought-after HR managers? We discuss the HR career ladder to better understand career progression and become a successful HR professional.

What is the HR Manager Career Path?

Human resources managers are HR professionals, responsible for human resource management. This includes both the administrative and the strategic aspects of the HRM.

Administrative duties include keeping records, processing payroll, and benefits administration.

Strategic duties include developing and implementing policies and procedures, recruiting and training employees, and employee relations.

In larger organizations, HR managers may specialize in one or more areas of HRM.

For example, a recruitment manager focuses on recruiting, while an employee relations manager focuses on managing conflict resolution.

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HR managers are in high demand, and with good reason. They’re the ones who make sure that employees get a productive environment at work. The human resources manager works with the HR assistant, HR specialist, employee engagement specialist, and training and development specialists to provide an inclusive work environment.

To become an HR manager you’ll need a minimum bachelor’s degree related to human resources or comparable experience.

We also recommend joining online courses at the HR university to help you in landing an HR manager job.

The base pay for an HR manager is $70,282 according to Indeed.

What Does an HR Manager’s Career Path Look Like?

Let’s study the HR career paths of a human resources manager in more detail.

HR Generalist

Your career progression to become an HR manager will start from the position of an HR generalist. The responsibilities of an HR generalist vary depending on the size and needs of the organization.

An HR generalist handles coordinating and administering HR programs, enforcing company policy, and maintaining employee records. Other than this, they oversee employee recruitment, and payrolls, and provide training and development opportunities.

An HR generalist can progress toward a human resources manager by demonstrating strong leadership and communication skills and a deep understanding of HR policies and procedures.

Job responsibilities:

  1. Recruit and train new employees.
  2. Assist the human resources manager in handling employee development, employee satisfaction, and increasing employee retention rate.
  3. Communication with employees at all levels of the organization.
  4. Help the HR department in improving the benefits programs.
  5. Draft and implement HR policies for productive company culture.
  6. Assist HR professionals in the hiring process and talent acquisition.
  7. Maintain compliance with employment law.
  8. Develop and implement employee training programs.
  9. Improve the HR administration process, and HR practices.

Preferred Qualifications:

  • Strong communication and organizational skills.
  • Solid organizational skills.
  • Good people skills.
  • Bachelor’s degree.
  • 1 to 4 years of minimum experience.
  • Prioritize tasks and delegate whenever necessary.

HR Manager

When prioritizing your career advancement in human resources career path, you need to demonstrate skills and expertise as an HR generalist. The company can then consider you for the senior position of human resources manager.

The human resources manager ensures that an organization’s staff is happy and productive. They do this by overseeing the recruitment process, handling employee disputes, and administering employee benefits. They spend their days meeting with employees, reviewing performance management, conducting interviews, and introducing human resources programs.

They also work with other members of the management team to develop strategies for improving employee satisfaction. HR managers plan and implement long-term initiatives such as training programs. By performing these essential functions, human resources managers play a vital role in the smooth operations of the organization.

They have a solid grip on labor statistics and draft strategies to increase human capital retention at the company.

Job responsibilities:

  1. Partner with the leadership team including Chief Human Resources Officer, HR business partner, and the human resources director to understand and execute human resource and talent strategy.
  2. Align the HR strategy with the HR coordinator, HR executive, and HR administrator to create a strong HR department.
  3. Provide support and guidance to HR generalists, HR specialists, HR workers, and HR assistants.
  4. Manage company staff, including coordinating and supporting the recruitment process.
  5. Create onboarding programs for new employees.
  6. Provide the necessary support for payroll requirements.
  7. Collaborate with departmental managers to understand requirements for training programs.
  8. Create learning and development programs that provide growth opportunities for employees.
  9. Oversee employee disciplinary meetings, terminations, and investigations.
  10. Maintain compliance with federal, state, and local employment laws and regulations.

Preferred Qualifications:

  • Skills: Human resources managers need to have excellent communication skills so that they can communicate with all employees. Build strong relationships with employees, listen to their concerns, and mediate conflicts. You also need to deliver difficult news in a compassionate way.
  • Employment laws: Have a good understanding of employment law and employee benefits to ensure compliance.
  • Data analysis: Leverage the power of data to make the right decisions about hiring and retention. Be comfortable using HRIS systems to track employee data.
  • Education: Bachelor’s degree in human resources or a related field. To stand out, a master’s degree with certifications in HR will give you a competitive edge over other candidates.
  • Experience: 5+ years.

HR Director

The human resources director handles the administration, coordination, and evaluation of the HR function in an organization. They develop and implement policies and programs related to employment, compensation, employee benefits, employee relations, and training and development.

They manage the recruitment and selection process, as well as performance management and succession planning. The human resources director is a critical member of the senior management team, and they play a vital role in ensuring that the organization’s employees are productive and engaged.

Career advancement to an HR director is a great career move, but it’s important you’re prepared for the responsibilities that come with the job. You’ll need to have extensive experience in HR, including a deep understanding of employment laws. You also need to show demonstrated experience as an HR manager.

You also need to be an excellent communicator, both in written form and in person. It’s essential to build relationships with key stakeholders, such as senior management and the board of directors. If you can demonstrate these skills and qualities, you’ll be well on your way to becoming an HR director.

Job responsibilities:

  1. Development and implementation of policies and procedures.
  2. Management of employee records.
  3. Administration of benefits.
  4. Coordination of training and development programs.
  5. Management of payroll and taxes.
  6. Draft and implement succession planning for the organization.
  7. Provision of guidance and support to employees.
  8. Manage organizational budgets for each department to retain top talent.
  9. Introduce capacity-building programs for employees and HR executives.

Preferred Qualifications:

  • Excellent verbal and written communication skills.
  • Excellent interpersonal, negotiation, and organizational skills.
  • Excellent time management skills with a proven ability to meet deadlines.
  • Strong leadership skills.
  • Thorough knowledge of employment-related laws and regulations.
  • Proficient with Microsoft Office Suite and related HRIS software.
  • Minimum 10 years of experience.
  • Minimum of bachelor’s degree or Master’s with certifications in HR.

Vice President HR

An effective and efficient HR department has a positive impact on the organization. We can feel positive vibes in the health, security, and joy in each team and division. The company clears salaries and payments on time, employees and productive, and the HR department listens to everybody’s concerns.

And the exact opposite is true when the HR department is ineffective. We can feel the negative vibes in terms of layoffs, delays in salaries, and rising concerns of insecurity among employees.

The Vice President of the human resources department makes the difference in setting the overall tone for job security, benefits, and long-term retention of the workforce. The VP of HR supports CEOs, COOs, and other C-suite leaders in understanding the bigger picture of an organization. They don’t just work, but are passionate about what they do and have a clear vision of the company.

As a VP of HR, you are also the Chief People Officer, responsible for leading the entire organization’s goals and vision.

Job responsibilities:

  • Collaborate with C-suite leaders to define long-term mission and goals.
  • Identify loopholes in the HR strategy and close them through talent management.
  • Identify key performance indicators and implement strategies.
  • Assess organizational success and market competitiveness.
  • Lead the department by researching, developing, and implementing competitive compensation, benefits, performance appraisal, and employee incentive programs.
  • Conduct unbiased investigations and escalate them to the legal and security team.
  • Ensure compliance with OSHA (Organizational Safety and Health Administration), EEO, and other federal & state labor laws.
  • Supervise and lead the HR team in creating a cohesive employee experience.
  • Act as an employee champion and change agent.
  • Provide insightful crisis management advice.
  • Maintain complete confidentiality.
  • Improve data management, plan, and implement changes as necessary.
  • Handle disciplinary actions, terminations, or lay-offs in a professional manner.

Preferred Qualifications:

  • Minimum 10 years of demonstrated experience as an HR Director or another senior position.
  • Experience in strategic planning and implementation.
  • Deep knowledge of HR functions, key performance indicators, and other metrics.
  • Thorough knowledge and understanding of state and federal labor laws to ensure compliance.
  • Hands-on experience in using MS Office and HRIS programs.
  • Excellent communication, interpersonal and organizational skills.
  • Minimum Master’s degree in HR or relevant field with certifications.


Becoming an HR manager is a great way to start or further your career. It can be challenging, but also very rewarding. We hope this guide has given you a good overview of what becoming an HR manager entails. Are you ready to make a difference in people’s lives? If so, then we encourage you to start learning more about HR management today.


Josh Fechter
Josh Fechter is the founder of HR.University. He's a certified HR professional and has managed global teams across 5 different continents including their benefits and payroll. You can connect with him on LinkedIn here.