Can I get a human resources job without a degree?

Getting into any field without a degree may seem daunting, but you don't necessarily need a degree to get a human resources job.
Written by Melissa Sartore, Contributor

Getting into any field without a degree may seem daunting, but effective communicators and enthusiastic learners don't necessarily need a degree to get a human resources job. With a little bit of training and experience, a human resources job may very well be in your future.

If you have sales experience, enjoy working with others, and excel at written and verbal communication, entry-level human resources positions are well within your grasp. Certificate programs and diplomas can also provide the training you need to get a job in human resources. 

Many entry-level human resources jobs provide on-the-job training, with opportunities to learn as you go. You can advance to mid-level roles by gaining work experience. To find out more about how to succeed in human resources without a degree, check out the information below.

How do you get an HR job without a degree?

No one rule exists for getting a human resources job with or without a degree, but the latter requires a different path. By identifying human resources as the field you want to work in, you've taken the first step. Here are some additional tips to help you on your way. 

Identify your career goals in the field

It's important to figure out exactly what you want to do within human resources as you enter the field. Personal satisfaction and professional success both merit consideration when identifying your career goals. Looking ahead about potential career growth in human resources or a related field can also help you figure out what human resources jobs can do for you. 

Research positions and network

Getting a feel for the different human resources positions available gives you insight into the field as a whole. Entry-level human resources job descriptions found online can provide information about the skills employers look for, job duties, and the knowledge you need from the outset. They can also help you identify what training and education you may want to pursue as part of your preparation. 

You may find some entry-level positions require a human resources degree, while management positions ask for a human resources master's. Don't get discouraged yet!

Reach out to human resource professionals and ask questions to find out more. Human resources employees are often the ones who write job descriptions, participate in hiring, and work with personnel across an organization. They have the exact information you need to help you get a foot in the door.

Consider a certificate program or diploma

Certificate programs and diplomas typically last about a year and equip you with the essential technical and communication abilities required for a human resource job. You can enroll in a human resources program while applying for jobs or before you do so, depending on the positions. A human resources certificate or diploma also signals to employers that you are serious about working in the field. 

Write a high-quality, comprehensive resume and cover letter

Writing a resume takes time and craftsmanship. Resumes need to include unique skills, practical experience, and education in a way that helps you stand out. List everything you want to include, put it into a resume, and keep revising it. Numerous iterations and outside input from a job coach or other resource can make your resume even stronger. 

Cover letters require the same consideration. You might want to craft a uniform cover letter, a template of sorts, to save time. You can modify and adjust as needed for different positions, but this approach can lead to potential errors and mistakes. Creating a new cover letter for each job is equally beneficial because it helps you get a feel for the position and the employer alike. 

Apply to positions in all walks of life

You may identify the job you want and focus on that position alone, but applying to human resources jobs in numerous fields increases the chance of finding employment. As you embark upon your search, do not limit yourself. Rather, apply for jobs that may even seem out of reach. You never know until you apply.

Prepare for interviews and post-interview follow-ups

Make sure you do your homework before going to an interview. Find out what you can online about the potential employer's mission, the organizational structure, and the names of key individuals who work there. You can often find information from people who have or still work at a company online. 

Be ready for questions about your experience, education, and goals for the position. Have your resume in mind as you respond to inquiries, but add specifics about what you bring to the role. Ask questions, find out if they will train you for specific tasks, and assess the overall mood of the workplace. Remember, you are interviewing them, as well. 

After an interview, send a thank-you note to stay on their radar.

Don't give up

Looking for a job requires determination and perseverance. Once you put in the work in preparation and make it clear to employers what you have to offer, it takes time to find the right position. 

What skills do I need to succeed in human resources?

People and technical skills help you thrive in a human resources job. Human resource jobs require listening, written, and verbal communication skills. They also require lots of patience. Learned management, technical, and administrative skills similarly help you succeed in a human resources career. 

People skills

  • Verbal and written communication
  • Listening 
  • Patience
  • Ability to work with different types of personalities
  • Empathy
  • Discretion
  • Conflict resolution and negotiation

Hard skills

  • Human resources software
  • Project management
  • Employment processes
  • Office administration
  • Employment law and legal compliance

In conclusion

There's a human resources job out there for you even if you don't have a degree. Finding an entry-level opportunity in the field of human resources requires hard work and creative thinking, but it is within your grasp. The tips on this page can help you along the way. 

This article was reviewed by Alexandra Tapia, MBA

Alexandria Tapia, a blonde woman, smiles at the camera

Alexandra is a driven, high-spirited, unapologetically energetic, and optimistic person. She prides herself on her devotion to becoming a better business leader and overall human. She has an insatiable hunger for knowledge, asks a million questions, and thrives on making change.

She has reached many populations throughout her career. She's studied recidivism, helped prior criminal offenders reintegrate into society, and built trusting relationships while working at a homeless shelter. 

Her passion for education also shines through in her work. She taught younger children for many years, but has since turned her focus to higher education. She loves collaborating with others to be a disruptor in the education industry, creating and delivering programs that are unlike others — all while building a better future for her clients and students.

When she's not working, you can find her in and around Washington, D.C., hiking on local trails, off-roading in the forest in her Jeep, or reading a good book with a homemade iced white chocolate mocha in hand (usually accompanied by her three dogs and three cats).

Tapia is a paid member of the Red Ventures Education freelance review network. 

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