How to Become a VP of HR

Looking for a guide to becoming a vice president in the HR department? So, you’re in right place then.

A VP of HR leads the HR department and establishes core policies for recruitment processes. According to research from Zippia, 71.7% of VP of HRs have at least a bachelor’s degree. Thus, as per this research, the majority of VPs in the HR departments must fulfill the least qualification criteria since it is a presidential role.

Apart from acquiring the qualifications, there are other general competencies a human resources VP must fulfill to become a VP of HR.

This article provides a step-by-step guide to becoming a vice president of human resources. If you dream to become one in the future, then this is guide is a perfect choice for you to follow:

Step 1: Get Qualified in the Human Resources Field

Qualifications are the most basic yet fundamental requirements for any senior role like the VP of HR. Thus, if you’re looking to become a vice president in a company’s HR department, then you must first fulfill general qualification competencies.

The majority of companies mention in their job descriptions for the job applicants to fulfill the mandatory requirements. One of them is to have at least a competitive bachelor’s degree in human resources. A bachelor’s degree demonstrates the interest, passion, suitability, and commitment for such a critical vice president’s role.

Competitive applications from HR professionals have a bachelor’s degree in business administration. While some more competitive applicants have a master’s degree in business administration followed by a specialization in human resources.

While, as the competition is pretty tough with experienced job applicants who apply for such senior presidential roles, you can make your job application more competitive by acquiring higher education in one of these fields here:

  • Business administration
  • Business management
  • Human resources
  • Business leadership

A doctorate along with some renowned certifications will add more value to your job application.

A bachelor’s degree in human resources allows you to learn these seven basics of work:

  1. Organization infrastructure
  2. Business administration
  3. Presentation skills
  4. Universal relevance
  5. Personnel management
  6. Human resources compliance
  7. Employee training and organizational development

So, to become a vice president of human resources, you must fulfill the general qualification criteria to be able to apply for a VP of HR job.

Step 2: Learn the Complications Behind Recruiting the Resources

A VP of HR must have a sound understanding of how a recruitment process takes place. An HR VP is expected to interview multiple talented candidates and based on their experience and comprehension, they should know the tactics behind analyzing the most suitable candidate for a role. For you to become a VP of HR, you must research the ways to attract the perfect talent for a seat. The very first step in this procedure is drafting detailed and precise job descriptions. You must learn the method to craft job descriptions with the appropriate skills they are looking for in the candidate. In addition to that, familiarizing yourself with the screening and interviewing process is also mandatory to completely master the complications behind the recruitment processes.

Step 3: Get to Know about Administering the Compensations

As it is the core duty of a VP of HR to keep the organization’s expenses in control and a steady-state, you must learn to analyze the competitive salaries for each job description you will draft in a VP of HR’s role.

It is also a core duty of an HR VP to instruct the hiring managers to negotiate with the job applicants to keep a position as profitable for the organization as it could. However, you must not forget that employee satisfaction is also necessary. Thus, the right knowledge about administering the compensation and salaries is crucial.

Step 4:  Acquire a Certification to Specialize in Core Vice-Presidential Skills

You can learn the basics of leadership and human resources from a degree, but you cannot learn the inside technicalities without going through a specialization course. Although acquiring a certification from a course is not a mandatory requirement to submit a competitive application, this tactic is always recommended to keep your job application competitive. In addition to that, a certification shows your interest and skills for this presidential role.

With the right certification in human resources, you can learn the mandatory skills to carry out your key responsibilities effectively. Here’s a list of what learning outcomes a certification in human resources may help you to learn:

  • Managing the workforce
  • Monitoring the human resources team
  • Conducting employee performance tests
  • Leadership traits
  • Workplace relationship
  • Employee relations
  • Tactics to analyze the team results and build human resource strategies
  • Policy development on ethics and misconduct
  • Looking after organizational assets and aiming to build them further
  • Workload division among labor
  • Employee benefits and negotiation
  • Building voice of authority
  • Adding value to the business
  • Organizational development skills
  • Record, time, and performance management
  • Workforce planning and retention

You might already have a slight idea about each term in your academic career, but with the right course, you will be able to master these aspects to the fullest. In addition to that, lifetime access to course content provides a privilege to learn at whatever time you’re easy at.

Our Human Resource Management Certification Course includes the most-exceptional learning outcomes, which we’re sure that you don’t want to miss in your struggle to secure a VP of HR seat. Check it out below:

Diversity and inclusion certification

Step 5: Learn the Legal Method to Review Company Policies for Legal Compliance

You must develop a sound grasp of federal and state laws for the human resources departments. As the VP of HR is an executive-level role, you will regularly deal with tasks like workforce management, employee retention, senior management, role modeling, and employee satisfaction. Thus, you must learn all the laws that are applicable during the talent acquisition and employee management processes.

Once you familiarize yourself with the laws, you can testify whether the organization complies with the state rules or not.

So, to become a VP of HR, you must learn about the equal opportunities laws, employee disability and compensation acts, and medical leave laws proposed by the state on a national level. Once you are well aware of how the laws act, you will ultimately learn to plan the future company’s policies in compliance with the state and federal laws.

Step 6: Master the Fundamentals of a VP of HR Role

To secure such a senior role, you must master the in-depth fundamentals of a vice president of human resources.

As you know, HR departments are nothing less than a support system for the workers, and organizational employees, thus you must be aware of even the smallest details that matter in the productivity of employees, employee relations, and well being of the whole organization.

Here is the list of fundamentals you should master before applying for a VP of HR role:

  • Benefitting the employees with compensation programs
  • Managing and overlooking the payrolling operations
  • Developing and implementing the latest work ethics and policies
  • Reviewing and revising the existing company policies and rules for compliance
  • Supervising and leading the talent acquisition and onboarding processes
  • Communicating the work ethics, and policies
  • Implementing federal and state law within the organizational development
  • Encouragement of feedback and reviews from the workers to analyze the labor statistics and labor relations and thus improving the operations and company processes
  • Providing insightful and helpful leadership to the human resources department
  • Increasing employee retention rate
  • Work analysis and employee productivity metrics and labor statistics analysis
  • Establishing and scheduling the payroll structures

A vice president of human resources must be aware of the process to ensure whether the employee deliverables resonate with the company goals or not. Thus, for a better performance management analysis, the VPs of HR should work on specifying the tasks and analyzing the outcomes to validate organizational success.

Thus, it is undoubtedly necessary for you to know, not just know, but master the elementary job skills, leadership skills, and responsibilities of a vice president. Only then you might find yourself eligible for a VP of HR role.

Step 7: Master these 5 traits to Carry Out a Successful VP of HR Role

Here are mentioned some of the crucial traits VPs of HR and human resources executives must exhibit for effective tasking. A VP of HR must be a:

  1. Cultural Steward. Cultural stewardess involves comprehension of a company’s values and culture. Thus a vice president of human resources must contribute to building and strengthening or even changing a cultural norm in the best favor of business
  2. Credible Activist. A VP of HR must serve as a credible activist not just in the human resources department but in the entire company’s department. Furthermore, the VP of HRs must be a well-respected HR professional who can influence the human resources managers, junior executive vice president, and other HR leaders. They must be aware of how a junior role like HR director and their responsibilities take place. To build the competency and authority of this senior VP role, they must acquire credibility by overpowering other roles for leadership development.
  3. Business Strategy Architect. A VP of HR must be aware of business cultures, trends, and norms. They must also be aware of how they can affect and influence the whole business by recognizing the risks, threats, and opportunities they might offer to the business. HR professionals who are thus capable of identifying their weaknesses and strengths always find ways to the effective team and HR department management.
  4. Operational Executor. Although a vice president of human resources does not have to take an active part in recruiting and screening job applications, they must be aware of how the operations take place. Thus, whenever the need arises, they must be aware of how to execute a talent development and recruitment operation.
  5. Business Allies. A VP of HR must be a business ally, which means that they must be aware of how a business works, how it generates income, who are the customers, what is the business product, and what a business sells. Because only then human resources can work best in the favor of business if they are aware of the business allies.

Step 8: Learn to Strategize the Departmental Effectiveness

As the vice president of HR is a highly strategic role, you should develop strategic thinking and tactics for departmental effectiveness.

Only with strategic thinking, you’d be able to provide insights into some of the best recruitment strategies to seek the right talent.

In addition to that, you must develop a strong understanding of the organization’s objectives. You must also master the skills to effectively work along with other departments to effectively achieve the business goals.

Step 9: Practice the Leadership Skills to Acquire Experience and Build a Work Record (Optional)

Many spacious organizations put a restriction on job descriptions with at least a few years of practical experience, although this is not a fundamental requirement.

If you have only a bachelor’s degree in human resources management, then we recommend you to pursue as a junior or senior intern in an organization to gain not just gain some experience but to build your portfolio and draft a competitive job application.

While the job applicants holding a master’s or doctoral degree might leverage an advantage here, still as the competition will likely be with the candidates full of experience and talents, you should gain some formal experience by working at a junior human resources manager seat, or by gaining an informal experience through freelance jobs or volunteer work.

After all, securing the senior vice president seat in human resources should be your ultimate goal, thus gaining experience in the relevant industries comes highly recommended.

Step 10: Apply to the Right VP of HR Role

Once you complete all the steps above, you can start hunting for the right role that aligns with your experience, qualifications, and skillset. Make sure to read the complete job description before applying for a job.

Follow the above-mentioned guide in the same order as written to become a vice president of human resources. Know that as it is a senior role, you must master the fundamental skills for a VP of HR to win the job.


Find answers to the most common questions regarding a VP of HR’s role here:

Is MBA a Must-Have Degree to Secure a VP of HR Seat?

No. having an MBA degree is not a must-have requirement to secure the VP of HR seat. However, the majority of organizations may require at least a bachelor’s degree in the relevant field.

As the era is advancing, companies have changed their HR policies which means the majority of organizations prefer skills over high qualifications. Thus, your focus should be on developing the skills instead of earning multiple degrees with no insightful learning outcomes.

How much does a VP of HR Make?

According to Workable, an averagely experienced human resources VP can generate an average of $127k per year. An entry-level and fresher HR VP generates $88k per year. With candidates of up to 5 years of experience, salary can rise to $103k per year. On the other hand, candidates with up to 10 years of experience can make $130k per year according to Workable.

While, according to Glassdoor, a vice president of human resources makes an average of $188k per year, with a base pay of $156k, and additional pay of $31k per year.

The most likable range of income for HR leaders like VPs is $120k-298k according to the estimates by Glassdoor.

According to this range, the estimate provided by Workable is also correct. Thus, you can get an idea of how much an average human resources VP can generate in a year.


To become a VP of HR, follow this step by step guide here:

  1. Get qualified in the Human Resources
  2. Learn the complications behind recruiting the resources
  3. Get to know about administering the compensations
  4. Acquire a certification to specialize in the core vice-presidential skills
  5. Learn the legal method to review company policies for legal compliance
  6. Master the fundamentals of a VP of HR role
  7. Master these 5 traits to carry out a successful VP of HR role
  8. Learn to strategize the departmental effectiveness
  9. Practice the leadership skills to acquire experience and build a work record (optional)
  10. Apply to the right VP of HR role

A brief detail for each of these steps is already provided in the above article. Learn the employee performance management metrics, and work on enhancing the labor relations. HR managers and VPs must develop good communication skills for effective people management. Make sure to continually upskill your business knowledge with the latest market trends to maintain the competition and credibility of your skills.


If you are new to Human Resources and are looking to break into a VP of HR position, we recommend taking our HR Certification Courses, where you will learn how to build your skillset in human resources, build your human resources network, craft an excellent HR resume, and create a successful job search strategy that lands you a sought-after VP of HR job.


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.