How to Become an HR Generalist: A Comprehensive Guide

Are you aspiring to become an HR Generalist or already navigating your career in Human Resources? Whether you are contemplating the first step or planning your next move, understanding the intricacies of the HR Generalist role is crucial. This guide provides valuable insights into the journey of becoming an HR Generalist, the skills required for success, strategies to advance your career, and potential salary levels as you progress.

1. Steps to Become an HR Generalist

1.1. Receive Your Bachelor’s Degree

Earning a bachelor’s degree is the foundation for a career as an HR Generalist. Fields such as Human Resources, Business Administration, Management, or Psychology are commonly pursued. Coursework covers business management principles, organizational psychology, and managerial studies. An internship or research project may also be required.

1.2. Skills Needed

  • PHR Certification
  • Microsoft Office Suite proficiency
  • Excellent organizational skills
  • Interpersonal and communication skills
  • Attention to detail

1.3. Job Market Insights

  • 81% of HR Generalists hold a bachelor’s degree.

2. Job Training and Insights

2.1. Attend HR Job Training

Post obtaining your degree, real-life job training becomes pivotal. Seminars and conferences tailored for HR Generalists offer insights into workplace procedures, HR leadership roles, legal aspects, and strategies for improving HR’s image.

2.2. Topics Covered in Training

  • HR-specific laws
  • HR’s role in business
  • Improving HR’s image
  • Overcoming HR challenges

3. HR Certification Tests

3.1. Consider HR Certification

While not mandatory, HR certifications enhance credibility. Some notable certifications include:

  • Society of Human Resource Management Certified Professional (SHRM-CP)
  • Professional in Human Resources (PHR)
  • Society of Human Resource Management Senior Certified Professional (SHRM-SCP)
  • Senior Professional in Human Resources (SPHR)

4. Advanced Education

4.1. Pursue a master’s degree!

Some HR Generalists opt for advanced education, such as a Master of Science in Human Resource Management. This degree delves into advanced psychology, communication, and business skills, often requiring research studies or practicum experiences.

5. Applying for HR Generalist Positions

5.1. Showcase Your Skills: Once armed with education, certifications, and practical experience, applying for HR Generalist positions is the next step. Key skills sought by companies include organizational skills, discretion, decision-making ability, interpersonal skills, and effective communication.

6. Career Advancement and Salary Insights

6.1. HR Generalist Career Path

  • HR Generalist I (2-4 years of experience, $61K – $90K /yr)
  • Senior HR Generalist (2-4 years of experience, $84K – $131K /yr)
  • HR Generalist IV (5-7 years of experience, $69K – $99K /yr)

6.2. Total Pay Trajectory

  • HR Generalist Manager
  • Senior Manager of HR
  • Principal HR Generalist
  • Vice President of HR

6.3. Related Careers

  • HR Professional (25% skills overlap)
  • HR Manager (13% skills overlap)
  • HR Consultant (25% skills overlap)


Becoming an HR Generalist involves a strategic blend of education, certifications, and practical experience. This comprehensive guide provides you with a roadmap to embark on your journey, acquire the necessary skills, and navigate the exciting career path in Human Resources. Whether you’re starting fresh or looking to ascend to the next level, the HR Generalist role offers a dynamic and rewarding professional landscape.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) About Becoming an HR Generalist

1. What does an HR Generalist do on a daily basis?

An HR Generalist oversees the day-to-day activities of a company’s HR department, including tasks such as recruitment, employee relations, benefits administration, and policy enforcement.

2. What are the primary roles and responsibilities of an HR Generalist?

Roles include administrative tasks, employee engagement, compliance-related duties, and strategic responsibilities like policy development and performance management.

3. What qualifications are needed to become an HR Generalist?

A bachelor’s degree in human resources, Business, or related fields is typically required. Relevant certifications such as SHRM-CP or PHR are advantageous.

4. Is work experience necessary to become an HR Generalist?

While not always mandatory, gaining HR work experience through internships, volunteering, or entry-level positions enhances practical knowledge and skills.

5. How can I advance from an HR Generalist to higher-level positions?

Consider pursuing advanced education, such as a master’s in human resource management, and obtaining certifications like SHRM-SCP or SPHR. Networking within the HR community can also open up opportunities.

6. What soft skills are essential for an HR Generalist?

Effective verbal and written communication, interpersonal skills, organizational skills, multitasking, decision-making, and discretion are crucial soft skills for an HR Generalist.

7. What is the average salary of an HR Generalist?

Salaries vary based on factors such as education, experience, certifications, and location. In India, the average salary is ₹4,91,164 per year, according to Glassdoor.

8. How can I prepare for a career as an HR Generalist?

Start by obtaining a bachelor’s degree in HR or a related field, gain practical experience through internships or entry-level positions, and consider obtaining certifications to enhance your qualifications.

9. Are there specific HR certifications for HR Generalists?

Yes, certifications such as SHRM-CP, PHR, SHRM-SCP, and SPHR are recognized and can boost your credibility as an HR Generalist.

10. Can I transition from other HR roles to become an HR Generalist?

Yes, individuals with backgrounds in HR-related roles like HR Manager, HR Professional, or HR Consultant may transition to become HR Generalists. Relevant skills and certifications play a crucial role in this transition.

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