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Best way to proceed towards HR

MustangGT08MustangGT08 Registered User Posts: 2 New Member
I've got a question about changing my career path towards HR but I'm trying to figure out the best way to get there. As a background, I have a bachelor of science degree in management with an accounting concentration as well as the American payroll association fpc certification. Amongst other responsibilities, I do payroll for the company that I am with and love it but honestly I would like to work for a larger company and transition into a hr role. Even when I look at job postings it seems most larger companies lump payroll into hr positions so I feel I am going down the right path. My question is education wise, what would be best? I've looked at masters/mba programs but when I look at job postings, I've noticed even sr level hr positions usually only ask for a bachelor's (and years of xp.) I don't want to take out additional student loans for something that might hurt me long term. Another option I've looked at are graduate certificates but after counting the cost, to me it makes more sense to just get an actual degree like the mba with a human resource concentration from lsu-s for right under 12k. Aacsb accredited and read several good reviews on the program. The last route I'm looking at is to continue doing what I'm doing and look at getting the aphr certificate. Its still fairly new compared to other hr certifications but certifications seem prevalent in the hr field and really after reviewing what it covered it seemed like it would give me a solid foundation of hr without going into debt as well as not having to worry about other classes like in a full blown masters. I'm just not sure how hiring managers would view the certificate since my undergrad was in accounting and most of my work experience has been in that field. Any suggestions? I'm leaning towards trying for the certification then possibly joining shrm vs adding to my student loan balance but I'm sure there are people here who either work in hr or have worked in hr and could give me better advice. I've never had any negative dealings with hr personally but it's a field I'm very interested in exploring and shifting into. I thank everyone for their time and looking forward to hearing responses.

Replies to: Best way to proceed towards HR

  • SlynnxSlynnx Registered User Posts: 11 New Member
    HR can be a tricky field to jump into and experiences can vary by industry, but I will share my observations and opinions.

    Adding more debt for a graduate degree at this time is not going to be very beneficial, but a PHR or SHRM-CP certification may be a good starting point as long as you meet the "2 years of professional HR experience" qualification. The PHR (and more recently the SHRM-CP certification) does hold appeal to employers as it not only demonstrates knowledge, but requires experience in the field as well as ongoing learning to maintain the certification.

    Are you looking to specialize in compensation, or be a generalist? I think finding a job as a compensation specialist shouldn't be too difficult with your experience, but if you're looking to branch out and learn other areas of HR, you will likely need to start as an HR assistant/coordinator, junior recruiter, etc. (unless you have strong connections or relevant accomplishments to make a move into a mid-level role, perhaps at your current employer). The good news is that labor laws and HR best practices can be self-taught relatively quickly to help you advance, but I also strongly suggest finding a mentor in the HR world to bounce ideas off of when faced with the many gray-area situations you will encounter. This may be your manager, a friend with a lot of experience in the field, or some other connection.

    I've seen HR managers come from all different backgrounds, including psychology, criminal justice, general business/other management roles, or no college education at all. Having no college degree can make things difficult once you reach a certain level, but few senior HR positions *require* a graduate-level degree (they often claim to "prefer" them, but don't let that concern you). However, those senior roles do typically expect 5-10+ years of progressive/managerial HR experience, so it becomes more about what you've done than what degrees you have. Many companies offer some sort of tuition discount/reimbursement program, so if you really think a graduate degree will be beneficial after gaining some experience, wait until you find a company willing to put some $$$ toward it.

    Also consider what type of industry you want to work in. Retail, manufacturing, healthcare, and academic settings all have different challenges even if the HR role is very similar. It can be difficult, especially with limited experience, to move from a warehouse HR manager to an HR manager at a university setting. Or to move from a high school setting to a corporate setting for a large manufacturer. The employees in these different industries have different needs, as do their managers, and you'll go through a whole new learning curve instead of hitting the ground running the way a hiring manager may need you to. I'm not saying it isn't possible to move into a new industry - again, it's about what you've accomplished and how that can be applied to your new role - but it is a consideration.
  • MustangGT08MustangGT08 Registered User Posts: 2 New Member
    Thanks for the reply Slynnx! Sorry I am so late to get back to you but you've definitely opened my eyes on a few topics. You confirmed my fear of adding to my student loan balance and it not being beneficial. I didnt want it to be one of those situations where employers look at that and see me overqualified with a masters when the majority of positions only want a bachelors. Are you familiar with the new aPHR certificate by chance? That one is more of an entry level one that doesnt have experience requirements. It caught my eye because I was hoping it might possibly open a door to allow me to begin obtaining experience in the field. From what I was researching as well, it seems that many people somehow found their way into a HR role from other areas of the company. It seems like a degree in HR would be the best but doesnt appear to necessarily be the case in some real world scenarios. I was hoping to start out in more of a generalist type role and move towards a specific area (compensation is at the top of the list) for a larger corporation. The HR department at the company Im with now is very small and I dont forsee anyone in that department leaving any time soon unfortunately. Thanks again for your reply and its given me alot to think about. Just happy I decided to come on here before jumping into a masters program. Im on the extended student loan plan but not too fond of adding to the balance unless it can almost guarantee a salary increase and with HR, it seems like a gamble at this point in the game with very limited experience.
  • SlynnxSlynnx Registered User Posts: 11 New Member
    I've recently left my job to pursue further education, which is why I never certified - I knew I wouldn't be in the role long enough for the certification to pay off. So unfortunately, I'm not very familiar with them beyond what I've mentioned. If the aPHR is new, its hard to say what its impact might be on hiring decisions; I don't believe I know anyone who has it. It does test a broad range of topics in HR, so it could provide some credibility when you interview for jobs. Combining that with your experience in compensation should at least help you get interviews. Beyond that, it'll be all about your character fit and skills.
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