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VP of Human Resources Career Guide


What Is a VP of Human Resources?


A VP of human resources is responsible for the effective operations of an organization’s human resources department. They support those within the department and also CEOs, COOs and other C-suite leaders in big-picture planning for an organization. 

They are key players in a company’s executive structure, often reporting to the CEO, and sometimes carrying the title of chief HR officer or director of HR. 


What Does a VP of Human Resources Do?

A VP of human resources is part of the executive team in an organization, and works closely with other VPs and directors on business goals, employee retention, and effective organizational structure. 

They often lead a team of HR professionals focusing on the areas of organizational policy, recruitment, compliance, employee relations, performance, and benefits.  

Expected duties include: 

  • Lead the HR department. HR departments consist of lots of different types of roles, such as benefits and payroll specialists, diversity and inclusion leaders, HR business partners, HR managers, and more. It’s the responsibility of the VP of human resources to understand each of these roles and ensure the department is contributing to the organization’s overall goals. 
  • Compliance. Human resource VPs ensure the correct interpretation and implementation of federal and state labor laws, OSHA, EEO, compensation and payout requirements, pension plans, taxes, and any other laws regarding employment. They must have respect for confidentiality and compliance setups. It also commonly falls to the VP of human resources to handle or delegate disciplinary actions, terminations, or layoffs. This is especially true when dealing with employees in senior positions. 
  • Policy writing. HRVPs oversee the contracts between an organization and its employees, partners, vendors, and contractors. They are also experienced in writing policies for company HR commitments including hiring, firing, and workplace complaints. They have experience implementing non-compete agreements, compensation structures, all with a focus on the goals and interests of an organization. Employee handbooks are commonly written by the VP of HR and their team.

How Long Does it Take to Become a VP of Human Resources?

Most human resource VPs complete their education in 3-7 years, depending on whether or not they have pursued an advanced degree. From there, they may work in HR generalist roles, as specialists in diversity and equity, benefits, or other specific HR fields. They will then advance into HR management positions before becoming a director or VP. Typical applications for a VP of Human Resources ask for roughly 10 years of HR experience.


How Do I Become a VP of Human Resources?

In order to become a vice president of human resources, you’ll need a competitive degree and substantial work experience that demonstrates progression and commitment in the field of HR. 

Most applicants in an HRVP pool have completed a bachelor’s of science in business administration with a specialization in human resources. A B.S. or B.A. in HRM teaches the fundamentals of organizational structure and the HR department that you would oversee as a VP. Intimate knowledge of HR’s diverse functions is required. 

Pursuing a B.S./B.A. in HRM also allows HRVP hopefuls to have exposure to hands-on learning experiences, projects, and to network for industry connections.

Alongside HR work and volunteer experience, you do need a degree to qualify for VP of human resources roles. Those looking to be competitive in their applications would benefit from an advanced degree like an MBA or M.S. in management and leadership. A B.S./B.A. in HRM is the best place to start, giving you the foundational knowledge you need to begin a career in HR or to continue your career path at your current organization. 

There is no required certification for a vice president of human resources, but as with most VP and executive positions, advanced training and continued education in your field will set you apart when seeking a high-level and highly competitive role.

Certifications like the SHRM Certified Professional and SHRM Senior Certified Professional are commonly looked for when recruiting a VP of human resources. 

Best Degrees for a VP of Human Resources


Business Management – B.S. Business Administration

Hone your business acumen and garner added respect:...

Hone your business acumen and garner added respect:

  • Time: 61% of graduates finish within 19 months
  • Tuition: $3,755 per 6-month term
  • Courses: 40 total courses in this program

Skills for your résumé this program will teach you include: 

  • Business communication
  • Product development
  • Decision making models
  • Project management strategies
  • Budgeting for business

This online degree program is an excellent choice for kick-starting your organizational management career.


Human Resource Management – B.S. Business Administration

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

A SHRM-recognized online business degree program:

  • Time: 65% of graduates finish within 24 months.
  • Tuition: $3,755 per 6-month term.
  • Courses: 41 total courses in this program.

Skills for your résumé you will learn in this program include:

  • Agile project management
  • Employment and labor laws
  • Recruiting strategies
  • HR technology
  • DE&I understanding

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


Master of Business Administration

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

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

  • Time: Graduates can finish in 12 months
  • Tuition: $4,755 per 6-month term
  • Courses: 11 total courses in this program

Skills for your résumé you will learn in this program include: 

  • Leadership strategies
  • Talent management
  • Communication
  • Data collection and interpretation
  • Financial statements

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.


Human Resource Management – M.S.

A SHRM-recognized master's degree in human resource management...

A SHRM-recognized master's degree in human resource management

  • Time: 61% of graduates finish this program within 18 months.
  • Tuition: $4,755 per 6-month term
  • Courses: 10 total courses in this program

Skills for your résumé that you will learn in this program include: 

  • Performance Management
  • Communication
  • Management
  • Planning
  • Talent Acquisition
  • Human Resource Information System (HRIS)

Earn your M.S. in Human Resources and help companies create excellent cultures.

How Much Does a VP of Human Resources Make?


The average base salary for a VP of human resources as of February 2022 is $141,488 according to Payscale. This does not include bonus benefits such as commissions or shareholding, which are common for a vice president position. Base salary can vary depending on the industry and the size of the organization you work for.

What Is the Job Outlook for VPs of Human Resources?


Human resource roles are projected to grow 9% from 2020 to 2030 according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, with continued openings for HRVPs. Growth opportunities can vary by industry, based on the overall health of that field, but many VP opportunities will come from the need to replace senior workers as they exit the workforce.


What Skills Does a VP of Human Resources Need?

A VP of human resources is responsible for setting, enforcing, and evaluating HR policies, procedures, and best practices. In order to do this, they need a set of skills that range from analytical and technical to empathetic. 

VPs of HR will be expected to have a long-term mindset of company HR goals, and step away from the more day-to-day responsibilities HR departments manage. They need to be excellent delegators, communicators, and mentors to their teams as well as cross-divisionally. 

Excerpts from a mock job description by the Society of Human Resource Management are listed below detailing some of the most commonly required skills for a vice president of human resources.

  • Excellent verbal and written communication skills.
  • Excellent interpersonal and conflict resolution skills.
  • Excellent organizational skills and attention to detail.
  • Strong analytical and problem-solving skills.
  • Strong supervisory and leadership skills.
  • Thorough knowledge of employment-related laws and regulations.
  • Knowledge of and experience with varied human resource information systems.
  • Proficient with reporting and organizational software.

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