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HR Director Career Guide

How to Become a Human Resource Director

Human resource (HR) directors are responsible for creating, implementing, and executing human resource HR department strategies. In developing department strategies and delegating tasks to HR employees, HR directors work to equip a company’s workforce with all the tools it needs to succeed.

One of several in-demand business careers, the role of an HR director often means assigning tasks to HR managers who work beneath you. You’ll encourage high levels of HR employee performance, while you develop and approve policies that ensure continued policy compliance across your company.

If you thrive in a business leadership position and have a passion for compliance and employee motivation, you’ll find a rewarding career option in the role of an HR director.

HR manager leading presentation

What Is a Human Resource Director?

Of all available human resource careers, the role of an HR director provides the largest opportunity for team leadership and executive management. As an HR director, you’ll have the opportunity to work alongside senior company representatives to develop policies that strengthen a company’s workforce. You’ll handle various staffing, finance, and operations responsibilities that ultimately motivate company employees toward success.

To qualify for hire as an HR director, you will need to complete a related undergraduate degree. In addition, you will need at least a few years of HR department experience—preferably in a leadership role—on top of a few HR-specific certifications. You also will likely need a master’s degree to help you be ready for this leadership role.

What Does a Human Resource Director Do?

Human resource directors fulfill a wide variety of responsibilities. From department financing and staffing to company-wide hiring and retention strategizing, you’ll ensure that all company employees stay well-equipped to complete their tasks.

HR directors might be required to complete some or all of the following duties:

  • Delegating tasks appropriately among HR department staff.
  • Recruiting new employees not only for the HR department, but also for the entire company.
  • Releasing employees whenever necessary.
  • Connecting with company employees to determine any additional resources or tools they might need to better perform their tasks.
  • Auditing employee performances using recognized benchmarks that can measure productivity and output.
  • Training new or existing employees on the use of new company tools.
  • Managing corporate finances to encourage investments in tools and individuals that will contribute to long-term corporate success.
  • Ensuring company-wide compliance with all local, state, and federal laws and procedures.

These and other responsibilities keep HR directors busy as they mitigate conflicts, hire new staff members, and promote continued compliance among a company’s workforce.

What Education Does a Human Resource Director Need?

Human resource directors need to satisfy a few education requirements before they can take further steps in their careers. First, you’ll need a bachelor’s degree in human resource management. This type of degree focuses on teaching students about employment law, compensation, benefits, training and development, workforce planning, and working with employees. These skills are critical in preparing you for a career focused on leading the HR program of a company.

In order to become a director, higher education is typically needed. For many, this will mean a a master’s degree in management and leadership or an MBA. These business degrees are focused on giving you the leadership skills necessary to take charge of an HR department at a large company. You’ll learn further about communication, management strategies, advanced business skills, and more. 

Best Degrees for Human Resources Directors

Human Resource Management – B.S. Business Administration

A SHRM-recognized online business degree program:...

A SHRM-recognized online business degree program:...

A SHRM-recognized online business degree program:

  • Time: 70% of graduates finish within 35 months.
  • Tuition and fees: $3,720 per 6-month term.

Sample careers and jobs this business degree will prepare you for:

  • Human resource specialist
  • Director of talent acquisition
  • Recruiting manager
  • Organizational learning specialist
  • Vice president of HR

Earn your B.S. in Human Resources and help build strong organizations.

Management and Leadership – M.S.

An online master's degree focused on change management,...

An online master's degree focused on change...

An online master's degree focused on change management, innovation, and leading teams:

  • Time: Graduates can finish in 12 months.
  • Tuition and fees: $4,675 per 6-month term.

Sample careers and jobs this business degree will prepare you for:

  • President
  • Vice president
  • Director of operations
  • Executive director

Develop a comprehensive suite of leadership skills and your confidence to navigate changing business structures.

Master of Business Administration

The flexible MBA program you need, focused on business...

The flexible MBA program you need, focused on...

The flexible MBA program you need, focused on business management, strategy, and leading teams:

  • Time: Graduates can finish in 12 months.
  • Tuition and fees: $4,675 per 6-month term.

Sample careers and jobs this business degree will prepare you for:

  • President and CEO
  • Vice president
  • Executive director
  • Chief strategic officer

Our competency-based model gives you an innovative learning experience you won't find anywhere else—and our MBA grads tell us they loved accelerating their program to see a faster ROI.

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What Skills Does a Human Resource Director Need?

Human resource directors depend on developed HR skills each day, whether they’re creating new policies, hiring new employees, or balancing corporate finances.

The exact skills an HR director needs can include:

  • Employee management. The ability to effectively manage a corporate workforce, and make decisions on behalf of company employees.
  • Delegation. The ability to assign tasks appropriately to individual HR department staff members.
  • Leadership. The ability to motivate all company employees in the completion of their respective tasks, for the good of the company itself.
  • Public speaking. The ability to confidently address groups of people, especially groups of human resource employees.
  • Financial management. The ability to manage and appropriately segment company budgeting according to individual department needs.
  • Staffing. The ability to recruit and onboard new employees, as well as release employees whenever necessary.
  • Interpersonal communication. The ability to correspond effectively with other HR department employees, company staff members, executives, and potential new hires.
  • Problem-solving. The ability to address and solve problems before they escalate, especially conflicts that company employees might have with one another.
  • Technological proficiency. The ability to operate all necessary pieces of technology in a human resource department, including any computers, tablets, phones, and online platforms.

These and other skills help human resource directors thrive in a fast-paced HR environment, as they work to ensure continued policy compliance and advocate for improved employee performance and satisfaction.

How Much Does a Human Resource Director Make?


The exact income of an HR director can vary based on many factors, including their years of experience, employer, employer’s location, education, and obtained certifications.

The salary of an HR director can average $89,515, with a range of roughly $56,000 to $138,000 earned each year.

What Is the Projected Job Growth?


The job outlook for HR directors is expected to remain positive over the next decade. Employment for HR managerial staff is expected to grow 6% from 2019 to 2029, a growth rate higher than the average across all occupations. As new companies form and grow more complex, HR departments also grow to slowly take over company financing, benefits packages, staffing, and employee management. Roughly 13,300 HR managerial positions are expected to open each year over the next decade to help companies address these needs as they expand.

Where Do Human Resource Directors Work?


Human resource directors are needed in every type of industry. Every organization has an HR department that is focused on compensation, benefits, recruiting, and employee satisfaction. As a human resource director, your specific HR tasks might even be influenced by your location and other factors. For example, HR directors at smaller organizations may adopt a hands-on role to complete daily tasks. By contrast, HR directors at larger businesses can focus on long-term strategy, delegating smaller responsibilities to HR managers and HR specialists.

HR directors might work in one or more of the following locations:

-Small, medium, or large businesses

-Talent agencies

-Educational institutions


-Government organizations

-Nonprofit organizations



Interested in Becoming a Human Resource Director?

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