Become a HR Assistant: Education and Career Roadmap

Oct 20, 2021

Learn how to become an HR (human resources) assistant. Research the education, career requirements, and experience required for starting a career as an HR assistant.

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94% college-bound high school students
…said it was important to communicate with colleges during the search process. (Source: Noel-Levitz 2012 trend study)

Should I Become a Human Resources Assistant?

Degree Level None, associate's or bachelor's degree preferred
Degree Field Human resources, business
Experience Experience in human resources
Key Skills Strong organizational, analytical, communication, and customer service skills; proficiency with PowerPoint, Visio, Excel, Word, and HR software
Average Annual Salary (May 2019)* $42,620

Sources: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Human resources assistants provide assistance to human resources managers. While the specific duties of an HR assistant will vary by company or organization, general responsibilities include keeping employee records, posting job openings, and interviewing applicants. Some HR assistants are also involved with training new workers and processing payroll and employee benefits. In addition, these assistants often perform general clerical duties, such as answering the phone and sorting mail.

Although most human resources specialists work full-time, some assistants may only work on a part-time basis, depending on the needs of their employer. Because firms' needs vary throughout the year, many companies hire human resources assistants on a contract basis. Some travel to events, such as hiring fairs, may be required. Earnings vary by industry, but overall, human resources assistants earned an average salary of $42,620 as of May 2019, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Keep in mind that HR assistant positions are typically stepping stones to careers as HR specialists.

Now let's look at the steps needed to become a human resources assistant.

Step 1: Earn a Degree

Many of these professionals begin their career paths by attending college. According to O*Net Online, as of 2016, 30% of human resources assistants hold associate's degrees. Colleges and universities across the nation offer bachelor's degrees in business or human resources, which can prepare graduates for careers in human resources. Human resources bachelor's degree programs, for example, teach students about records management, employee development, labor relations, human resources planning, and employee benefits. Keep in mind that human resources specialists generally need bachelor's degrees, so you may want to earn a bachelor's if you aim to advance from assistant to specialist.

Whether you earn an associate's or bachelor's degree, be sure to develop your communication and problem-solving skills during your academic career. Working as an HR assistant requires strong written and verbal communication skills and the ability to apply logic to problems that arise in the workplace. While earning a degree, students can look for courses that offer training in communications and logic. Many schools also house writing centers where students can seek help or find ways to improve their written communication skills.

Step 2: Participate in an Internship

Many employers look for HR assistants who have prior experience. An internship is a way for prospective HR assistants to gain experience and begin making connections for possible employment. Internship opportunities can be found during the school year, in summer, or after graduation. HR internships teach students about teamwork as well as offering hands-on training in employee relations, talent and development, compensation, and recruitment. Additionally, students learn how to navigate the technology and software programs typically used in the HR field.

Step 3: Obtain Employment

Upon completion of educational training and participation in an internship, students can apply for entry-level positions in human resource departments. Once candidates obtain HR assistant positions, they may receive on-the-job training to learn the ins and outs of the office. During employment, you can hone your skills, develop contacts, and create a solid work ethic to improve advancement opportunities.

There are no strict requirements for a career as a human resources assistant, but an associate's or bachelor's degree and experience obtained in an internship are often favored by hiring employers.

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