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 Management degree.

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

  • The Bachelor of Commerce 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 often an admission requirement. Research graduate program admission 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 Commerce Human Resources Management Major.
  • The Faculty of Business Bachelor of Commerce degree is focused on a broad spectrum of commerce and management courses. The HRM major for the Commerce degree includes HRM courses in addition to the general degree requirements and electives. Athabasca University's Faculty of Humanities & Social Sciences offers the BHRLR degree and the post-diploma degree, as well at the Certificate in Human Resources and Labour Relations. These credentials have a direct focus on HRLR subjects with a core requirement of HRLR courses in addition to electives. The Bachelor of Commerce Human Resources Management Major 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 Commerce Human Resources Management Major requires specific business courses whereas the BHRLR does not. However, students may select business courses as electives as part of the BHRLR program requirements.

*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:

Search under the following job titles:

  • Human Resources Managers
  • Human Resources Professionals
  • Human Resources and Recruitment Officers

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 Academic Advisor

Once you have applied and selected an AU program, Academic Advisors can 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 to a four-year degree. See Advising Services contact information.


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