The Best Certifications in Human Resources


Human Resources (HR) professionals have a broad scope of responsibilities as well as a wide range of different administrative levels within any industry. Nonetheless, there are standard competencies which any HR professional is expected to demonstrate and these are often validated by standardised testing or certifications. Achieving the right certifications can mean the difference between getting hired for a desired role or continuing on your job search.

The best certifications in Human Resources are those that are recognised across the industry and validated by certifying or training organisations. Ultimately, any certification is subject to the skills required to achieve it, so the best certifications are those that can be utilised in performing your job functions and improving the HRM functions of your company.

To get a leg up in the HR field, you might want to consider completing certifications that will improve your knowledge and capabilities as an HR professional. Deciding on which certifications to pursue may be confusing, but there are certain certifications that will improve your desirability as an HR professional no matter where you work.

What Certifications Do I Need to Work in HR?

Human Resources professionals cover a broad range of functions within any organisation. When you consider completing an HR certification, be sure to understand the different types of certifications and the advantages and disadvantages of each one to find the ones that will meet your needs.

The Human Resources Institute of New Zealand (HRNZ) is a not-for-profit membership organisation and professional body for Human Resources professionals in New Zealand. HRNZ provides professional development opportunities, progression pathways, chartered membership, and Emerging Professional certifications. They also organise the HR Conference, HR Awards, and Summits. Reach out to them for advice or direction on the different certifications for various HR roles and what these qualifications can do for you.

To achieve accreditation as an Emerging Professional Member, you must be a current member of HRNZ and be able to provide evidence of the following:

  • Education and training in at least six of the HR Delivery competencies. This can be through academic study at a tertiary institution or participation in HRNZ professional development courses.
  • At least 18 months experience in an HR role involving practice in at least two of the HR delivery competency areas.
  • Completion of the equivalent of 30 CPD points in the 12 months preceding application.
  • Completion of the HRNZ Code of Practice module.
  • A letter of reference from an employer or Chartered Member of HRNZ.

Other options include a Graduate Certificate in Human Resource Management or a Certificate in Personnel Management & Human Resources. Either certificate can be a viable option for a career in HR. Additionally, completion of a National Certificate of Educational Achievement is also beneficial for some entry level HR roles. 

Professional qualifications in other relevant areas such as industrial relations, employment law, industrial psychology, or business management may also be useful and will depend on the organisation, industry, and particular role in which you are interested.

DISC Assessment Certification is also highly regarded as an integral tool for human resources personnel, enabling them to create positive change in the workplace. This training gives HR professionals the tools and knowledge to implement DISC Assessments and interpret and debrief DISC profile reports independently, while discussing practical solutions for more productive interactions between co-workers. 

What is the Best HR Qualification to Have?

Any diploma or degree in a related human resources subject would be a desirable qualification if you wish to pursue a career in the HR field. If you decide to undertake a degree in Human Resources, there are a multitude of Bachelors and Masters programs that could establish an effective knowledge base for any learner within the spectrum of HR functions. 

A degree in Human Resource Management would cover the full range of subject matter and can set you up for a fruitful career in HR. A Business Administration or Communications degree can also establish a solid foundation to work in HR. Even programs in the social sciences, including sociology or psychology, or a degree in Education would provide the background necessary to put you on the right path for a career in HR. 

Can you Do HR without a Degree?

The desired experience and education that is relevant to the role usually depends upon the company that is hiring an HR employee. Although it may be advantageous to have a degree within the HR field to become an HR professional, you do not necessarily need one. There are a lot of options to train in the HR field including specialised diplomas or certificates, or even on-the-job training if a company wants you to be well versed in their way of doing things. A candidate with a lot of experience may also be valued relative to a candidate with an HR degree since they can bring real world work experience in the HR field to the table.

How Do I Know if HR is the Right Career For Me?

If you believe an organisation’s employees are the foundation of its success and you want everything to do with how it finds those people and keeps them motivated, HR might be a great career path for you.

Are you a people person? Human resources professionals are predominantly approachable and interact with a wide variety of people in any organisation. These attributes are key to building trust and rapport with employees, colleagues, and management.

Are you fascinated to know what makes people tick? Folks who work in HR are often intrigued by human and organisational psychology, sociology, and management principles. 

Are you a problem solver? HR is a highly strategic function. HR professionals understand the factors that go into making business decisions and can come up with plans that take into account the human components of these choices. They have the ability to propose and put into place strategies and goals to ensure the business continues on a successful trajectory through recruitment, retention, compensation and benefits, training and development, and employee relations.

Are you an influencer (not in the social media sense, but in everyday scenarios)? Are you able to give constructive feedback and advice? Do people come to you for help with mediating or conflict resolution? HR professionals have to work between leadership and employees to keep both parties happy. 

Are you organised and efficient? The broad functions of HR professionals, as well as the vast amount of data they acquire and manage, require you to have excellent organisational and time-management skills. 

How Do I Break Into HR with No Experience?

If you don’t have any experience in HR but are looking to get into this line of work, there are ways to test the waters and gain experience by volunteering at non profits or local communities to get a feel for the roles and functions of HR professionals. 

Additionally, some companies offer internships, apprenticeships, or on the job training for HR entry level roles. If you’re already working for a company in a different role and want to shift to an HR position, you could speak to either your manager or the HR team to see if there’s a way to gain experience, training, or certification needed to make the move.