Want a Career in HR? Know These Things

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Are you interested in building a career in the human resources (HR) field? If so, it’s critical to choose a degree program that suits your abilities and long-term work goals. Plus, you’ll want to bone up on HR jargon because the discipline is constantly changing its basic vocabulary. Not long ago, in fact, HR was called personnel management. After getting the lingo down, explore degree programs, arrange for financing, and do plenty of research on the several career paths that graduates take. The beauty of jobs in human resources is that you can opt to work for a large company or set out on your own, working as an independent consultant. Here’s how to get started.

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Get the Right Degree

The highest paid people in HR are lawyers who earned undergrad degrees in business administration or psychology. Employment law, especially as it pertains to unions, worker relations, and legal contracts between employees and employers, is at the forefront of business litigation in the 2020s. If you choose to go to work right after getting a four-year diploma, there are many paths you can take. Even before that, make sure to finance your college education with a student loan through a private lender. It makes sense to borrow what you need to cover all school-related expenses, and private lenders offer higher borrowing limits than other sources.

Employment Counselor

Today, the proper term for employment counselors is life coaches. Most of these professionals have degrees in marketing, HR, psychology, or management. Regardless of their major coursework, they are usually independently employed. As a life coach focused on HR, you’ll scout for mid-career and entry-level workers who need help with resumes, interview skills, finding openings, and developing a network. Essentially, your clients pay you for teaching them how to find a job. They’ll expect you to give them leads on relevant positions, rework their resumes, and walk them through practice interviews.


In the past few years, the word trainer has fallen out of favor. The reasons vary, but be aware that you’ll encounter companies who want to hire you as an L&D professional. That’s code for learning and development, which is simply a fancy term for trainer. Make no mistake, capable trainers can earn top dollar in corporations that hire lots of college grads that have little experience. Expect to travel when you train, at least during the early part of your career.


Independent employment consultants won’t carry business cards that say, headhunter, but that’s what they do. Their fees come from companies that need middle, entry-level, and upper management talent. As a head hunter, you’re a networking pro who knows how to find the best people to fill open positions.

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Trouble Shooter

The modern business euphemism for trouble-shooter is employee relations consultant. When owners wonder, “How can we prevent our workers from suing us,” they turn to these highly specialized experts. While you won’t need a law degree to succeed, it helps to be conversant with all the pertinent legal questions surrounding labor law and owners’ rights.

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