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How to Become a Human Resources Manager
How to Become a Human Resources Manager

Picture a company where employees are perfectly matched to their roles, feel valued and are encouraged to learn and grow. Now picture what that does for a company’s bottom line.

“The most important thing an HR manager can do is connect the people and the culture of a company with that company’s objectives and goals,” says Mike Komola, chief HR officer at Mary’s Place, a Seattle area nonprofit, and an instructor in the Certificate in Human Resources Management program offered by UW Professional and & Continuing Education.

What Human Resource Managers Do

If you’ve been employed in any sizable organization, you’ve probably interacted with HR specialists during recruitment, benefits and compensation negotiations, onboarding and training. They’re the face of the company for employees. 

HR managers often work behind the scenes. They oversee HR specialists and handle issues that come up in employee relations, regulatory compliance and employee-related services such as payroll, benefits and training. They also play an important role in implementing business strategy. 

According to Komola, the most successful HR managers have excellent communication skills. Beyond being a good listener and a clear speaker, they must be able to successfully influence a corporate strategy, network within the industry and work with people of diverse backgrounds.  

Flexibility is also important, Komola says. Though he starts each day with a plan, because his work is people-focused he’s constantly shifting and adjusting to new demands. "The ability to be adaptable to new challenges is one of the keys to succeeding in this role," he says.

The Future Of Human Resources Is Digital

One newer development in the field of human resources has been an increasing trend toward data analytics. This can involve tracking and reporting hiring and talent migration data, as well as analyzing key metrics such as retention and turnover rates.  

Increasingly, human resources managers must have the ability to work with predictive analytics to anticipate changes and extrapolate into the future. “The future is not only digital, but it’s already here,” Komola says. “You can’t succeed in this field unless you’re comfortable performing analytics.” 

Job Opportunities For Human Resources Managers

Common Job Titles

Human Resources Manager, Human Resources Business Partner, Director of Human Resources, Human Resources Vice President

    Projected Growth

U.S. (2020-2030): 6%
Washington state (2020-2030): 30%

    Median Annual salary

U.S. (2020): $121,220
Washington state (2020): $133,070

Sources: Bureau of Labor Statistics, O*NET OnLine

Opportunities in human resources are growing rapidly. O*NET OnLine projects a 6% growth rate nationally over the coming decade for HR managers. That number skyrockets to 30% in the Seattle area, where the economy has continued to boom. 

“Because the economy has remained so vibrant, there are jobs open everywhere,” Komola says. “Everyone from small, mom-and-pop businesses to large corporations like Amazon are looking for qualified candidates.” 

With the the economy’s ongoing transition toward remote work, the demand for qualified HR managers will continue to rise, says Komola. “What you’re looking at are organizational dynamics that are ultimately people-related challenges.” 

How To Become A Human Resources Manager

There are several different paths open to those who are interested in becoming an HR manager. The first is formal education: You can earn a bachelor’s degree in human resources, business administration or a related field.  

A certificate is another good option. For early-career professionals who are completely new to HR, UW Professional & Continuing Education offers the Certificate in Human Resources Essentials

For those who already have previous HR or management experience in any field, the Certificate in Human Resources Management may be a good fit. “UW’s certificate program (in HR management) is great way to accelerate opportunities for people looking to make a career change,” Komola says. “It can really show employers that you’re motivated and have a solid understanding of the challenges involved in the field.” 

No matter your background or education level, networking through classes, conferences or informational interviews can be the key to creating new opportunities. “Developing relationships with existing HR professionals is the best way to show them that you can succeed.”


For more career tips and industry trends, visit the News & Features section of our website, and subscribe to our email list. To learn more about UW Professional & Continuing Education certificates, degrees and courses, explore your options or contact us.


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