How to Become a Human Resources Professional


To become a Human Resources (HR) Professional; a degree, diploma or certificate in a field related to human resources management, or a related field such as business management, commerce, industrial/labour relations, or labour studies is generally required. A social science credential in a related area of study such as psychology or sociology may also be a suitable option. Some employers prefer to hire those who have a degree and consider the Chartered Professional in Human Resources (CPHR) designation to be an asset. To learn more about professional certification, contact the Canadian Council of Human Resources Associations for registration requirements.

Athabasca University offers programs to help you prepare for a career in Human Resources:

AU offers other programs acceptable in meeting a university degree requirement for a position in an HR department. Some examples are the AU Bachelor of Arts either in Labour Studies, Psychology, Sociology, or other programs in the area of social sciences. Some AU Business programs may also be suitable, such as the Bachelor of Commerce or the Bachelor of Management degree. For a complete list of AU programs, see:

What is the difference between the Bachelor of Management in Human Resources Management (Bachelor of Management in HRM) and the Bachelor of Human Resources and Labour Relations (BHRLR)?

  • The Bachelor of Management in HRM is a four-year degree whereas the BHRLR is a three-year degree. If a student wishes to pursue graduate studies, a four-year degree may be a better choice since it is an entrance requirement for many institutions. Research graduate program entrance requirements if you are considering graduate studies after completing your undergraduate degree.
  • AU students have the option to complete the three-year Bachelor of Management degree and convert to the four-year Bachelor of Management in Human Resources Management.
  • The Bachelor of Management is a Faculty of Business degree focused on a broad spectrum of management courses. The HRM major includes HRM courses in addition to the general degree requirements and electives. The BHRLR degree, administered from the Centre for Interdisciplinary Studies, is focused directly on HRLR subjects and has a core requirement of HRLR courses in addition to electives. Basically, the Bachelor of Management in HRM is more focused on management courses, whereas the BHRLR has more courses in the Human Resources and Labour Relations area of study.
  • The Bachelor of Management in HRM requires specific business courses whereas the BHRLR does not. However, students may select business courses as electives as part of the BHRLR program requirements.
  • Transfer credit to both post diploma programs is the same.

*NOTE: This information is general in nature. Admission requirements to the various graduate programs differ from university to university. It is your responsibility to ensure that the AU courses or degree you complete meet professional certification requirements or the requirements of other universities you plan to attend.

Next Steps

1. Research career information on Human Resources Professional.

Use the following links to explore information related to HR duties, working conditions, skills, education, salary, employment prospects, opportunities and more:

2. Research professional registration requirements.

Contact your provincial member association of Canadian Council of Human Resources Associations (CCHRA) regarding CPHR designation. Professional registration requirements may vary from province to province.

3. Contact an AU Counsellor

A counsellor can provide you with more information regarding this career path, and help to ensure the AU program you choose meets your goals. You can schedule a telephone appointment using the online appointment form, email, or call 1-800-788-9041.

4. Become an AU Student

Once you complete your research and decide on a program of study you are ready to become an AU Student.

5. Contact an AU student advisor.

Once you have applied and selected an AU program of study, Academic Advisors help you select courses and develop a program plan. It is important to communicate with your Advisor if you are planning to complete a three-year degree with the intention of converting the three-year degree to a four-year program. Academic Advising Services are available by email, using their online form, by phone, 1 800 788 9041, or in person at one of our AU locations. For more information see Advising Services.


Alberta Learning Information Services (2019).

National Occupational Classification (2016). 0112 Human Resources Managers.

National Occupational Classification (2016). Human Resources and Recruitment Officers. 1223 Human resources and recruitment officers