To become an HR manager in Australia, you should get university qualifications in human resources management or a related discipline.
The main qualifications in the field are (a) a bachelor degree in business and (b) a postgraduate qualification, such as a graduate certificate or masters in HR management.
Let’s explore the qualification requirements and skills you need. Doing the right courses could set you up for career success as a human resources manager.
Why You Need University Qualifications
The role of an HR manager is to oversee human resources processes such as recruitment, training and performance management. The nature of this work means university qualifications are a must.
To manage talent recruitment, for example, you should know what it takes to get a bachelor degree. Preferably, you have a postgraduate qualification as well and understand the skills and discipline required to earn a masters.
If you’ve never been to university, how can you be taken seriously in your job as an HR manager? Vocational qualifications might be sufficient for an HR assistant job but not for senior MR manager roles.
The complexity of the job of HR manager makes an advanced education important. You should have been through some management and leadership training. As well, your job performance will benefit from having studied topics such as employee relations and change management.
The standard requirement in job advertisements for HR managers is tertiary qualifications in human resources or a related field. If you don’t meet that qualification level, job opportunities could be limited.
HR Manager Job Ads – Education Requirements
Here is a list of the education requirements identified in ten job ads under the category ‘Human Resources Manager Australia’. These are simply the first ones we found.
Example education requirements in job ads
- Formal HR, psychology or related qualification
- Relevant degree or post graduate degree in Human Resources
- Tertiary qualification in Human Resource Management or equivalent and/or AHRI accreditation
- Human Resources, Business Management or related qualification
- Bachelors or equivalent Human Resources related qualification
- Tertiary qualified in Human Resources or related field (Psychology, Business etc.)
- Degree qualified in an HR discipline with a preference for a Masters level qualification
- Tertiary qualification in HRM or equivalent
- Tertiary qualifications in Human Resources
- Degree or Post-Secondary qualifications (Cert IV) in Human Resources Management
Only about half the job ads we went through stipulated an education requirement. For senior roles, that’s quite normal. Recruiters search for professionals with extensive experience. Employers anticipate, but don’t require, candidates to have suitable qualifications.
Recruiters are looking for university graduates
Of the ten education requirement descriptions, seven ask for university qualifications. Only one mentions a vocational certificate as being acceptable. Another ad specifically states that a masters is preferred.
With respect to field of study, the most common terms that come up are ‘Human Resources’ or ‘HR’ (7), ‘Human Resource Management’ or ‘HRM’ (3), ‘Psychology’ (2), ‘Business Management’ (1) and ‘Business’ (1).
The terms ‘related’, ‘relevant’ or ‘equivalent’ appear a combined 8 times, indicating that recruiters don’t have a specific qualification in mind. Based on the fields of study, some recruiters may consider business degrees to be generally acceptable, along with psychology qualifications. Preference may be given to business graduates with a major in Management or Business Administration.
Bachelor of Business Degree
The standard undergraduate qualification for becoming an HR manager is a 3-year Bachelor of Business with a major in Human Resource Management.
To qualify for the major, around half the units you do in the final year should be within the HRM stream. And you will need to take some HRM units in your second year as well.
Examples of subjects you could study are: Employment Relations, Human Resource Management, Managing Change, Organisational Leadership, and Workforce Planning and Employee Development. These come from UNE’s business program.
Personally, I don’t think it should really matter whether you major in HRM or not. A Bachelor of Business is a general degree that equips graduate for working in any office role.
Just about any business subjects you do, from accounting to marketing, can help you be a better HR manager. And every business graduate has done units that are highly relevant to the human resources field.
Graduate Certificate in Human Resource Management
The quickest way to get a university-level qualification in HR management is to do a graduate certificate course. You only have to do 3-4 units, compared to 12 for a masters and 24 for a bachelor degree.
A grad cert course may be ideal if (a) your bachelor degree is not particularly relevant to HR or (b) you don’t have a university qualification. You can be admitted to the course based on academic qualifications, job experience, or a combination of the two.
A Graduate Certificate in Human Resource Management is also a pathway course for a masters degree. The units you complete are embedded in a masters program and count towards a masters if you want to continue studying after finishing the course.
Most grad cert courses consist of foundation units. Essentially, you study basic management and HR topics that would be most useful if your background in HR is limited.
But you can also do an advanced course, with subjects such as People Analytics, Healthy Work and Wellbeing, and Diversity and Inclusion. Refer to the HR courses page for more information.
Master of Human Resource Management
No-one can question your credentials for an HR manager job if you hold a Master of Human Resource Management degree. The specialist program provides extensive and advanced training in how to be an HR manager.
Examples of the types of subjects a masters covers are managing change, business strategy, managing and rewarding performance, professional practices, employment law, strategic HR development, and employment relations. Students build skills and knowledge across all the major functions of an HR team.