How to become a human resources manager



Typically, you become a human resources manager with a combination of education and experience. Often, a Diploma of Human Resource Management (BSB50320) will be enough to get you started in the industry. 

This position benefits from a wealth of life experience and certain skill sets. If you’re looking for a career change, you’ll find that your existing skills and experience will equip you well for a career in human resources – whether those skills are gained through previous employment, volunteering or parenting.

In this blog post, we’ll discuss the ins and outs of working as a human resources manager and how to break into the role.

What does a human resources manager do?

A human resources manager coordinates the internal ‘people’ side of a business. Depending on the size of the organisation, they may also manage a team of human resources (HR) professionals. 

Each day is as different as the people you manage. However, your role will broadly fall into these five areas:

  • Recruiting and staffing: Hiring new employees, ensuring they are the best people for the job, and will fit into your organisation seamlessly.
  • Compensation and benefits: Setting compensation structures, evaluating competitive pay, organising staff events and benefits, negotiating contracts and salary packages.
  • Training and learning: Organising training and courses to upskill staff and ensure professional development with a bigger picture in mind. 
  • Labour and employee relations: Ensuring all work complies with labour and employment law and that your employees are never taken advantage of or mistreated. Also, resolving workplace disputes, improving retention rates, and ensuring staff satisfaction.
  • Organisational development: Leading and managing every growth and development stage your company goes through, cultivating a positive workplace culture, improving policies and procedures, and influencing strategic business decisions. 

How much does a human resources manager earn?

A human resources manager earns $131,000 per annum on average. The exact salary will depend on the responsibilities, scope and your experience level. 

Presently in the job market, there is a great outlook for HR managers and it is expected that salaries will rise within the next 10 years for those in the field. People are more frequently choosing a career in HR and by 2026, the number of job openings for human resource managers is expected to increase by 16.3%.

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What skills does an HR manager need to succeed?

Working as an HR manager requires a range of core skills, which you can obtain through a combination of formal education and experience. If you’re a bit creative, you’ll be amazed by ways you can gain exposure to building different skill sets! Put these skills into practice at your current workplace, in a volunteer role or with family and friends. 

For example, practice communication and clarity through mediating sibling disputes and use strategic thinking to consider new and valuable initiatives at work.

Here are some skills to consider and strengthen: 

    • Strategic thinking. You’ll need to comprehensively consider different people’s needs and how they fit within the company goals and vision. 
    • Organisation. Strong time management skills, personal efficiency and organised systems are key to an HR manager’s effectiveness. The sign of a good HR manager is one who seamlessly keeps things running from induction to termination and everything in between. 
    • Communication. You will come in contact with a variety of people who have different communication styles, so you must be able to adapt to accommodate others, get your message across, and make the most impact.
    • People skills. People are at the heart of what HR does – humans are literally in your job title! To be effective, you should be empathetic, professional and comfortable working with different people. Depending on the situation, you’ll need to delegate, collaborate, negotiate, mediate and mentor team members and staff. 
    • Clarity AKA cutting through the nonsense. You may be presented with situations that are vague and subjective. Has someone not been promoted due to discrimination or lack of expertise? You’ll need to clarify and decode any vague information and ensure the best outcome is met to resolve a situation.
  • Trustworthiness. Gaining trust with employees is incredibly important to ensure people feel comfortable coming to you with grievances and issues. Sometimes, this requires a great deal of discretion and assurances of anonymity. Other times, it requires fearless transparency regarding important decisions so they can trust your best judgments
  • Juggling priorities. Employees expect human resource managers to advocate their concerns, yet you must also enforce management’s policies. Creating a perfect balance between everyone will win the trust of all those involved and concerned. There will be occasions when you must make decisions to protect the individual and other times when you need to protect the organisation, its cultures and values.
  • Saying ‘yes’ and inspiring confidence. The HR team can get a bad reputation with staff as an administrative obstacle renowned for saying “no” to anything that may make work more constructive or fun. Making a conscious effort to say yes when you can will have a positive effect on staff morale. 

How to break into a human resources role

You may find yourself with a variety of career titles and tasks if you pursue a career in human resources. You may become the general manager, payroll manager, recruiter, employee relations manager, change manager or head of vibes. Regardless of the position, your roles and day-to-day tasks will always be engaging and provide frequent opportunities to positively impact employees and the company culture.

To get started in your HR career, you’ll want to get your foot in the door. A VET qualification is the easiest way to do this as it balances education with practical skills and gets you into the workforce quicker and more cheaply than a bachelor’s would. In particular, you may want to consider online study as it will allow you to work while you study in a flexible time frame

Once you’re qualified, you can have conversations to transition to a human resources position within your current company or create a resume and start interviewing with other companies. This is also a good opportunity to chat with a learning coach, career mentor or chat with other graduates who have broken into the industry.

Is HR right for me?

Although a career shift can feel like a risk, the payoff is worth it. Taking the initiative to complete further training and education will ease the stress and benefit your career. Even if you decide to switch back to the work you’re doing now, the versatility of skills you’ll learn in an HR qualification will serve you in any role.

Becoming an HR manager will give you some of the most fulfilling work of your life. You will create meaningful and lasting relationships with your colleagues, be at the forefront of your organisation, and help shape workplace culture. You will work closely with people every day, in a diverse and stimulating environment that will ensure no two days are the same. If that sounds exciting and you resonate with the skills and responsibilities mentioned in this blog post, then a career in human resources will be perfect for you.


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We are proud to announce that from 2022 all CAL graduates of the Diploma of Human Resource Management (BSB50320) will have their qualification accredited by AHRI.