Learn About Being an HR Director

By Indeed Editorial Team

December 10, 2019

What does an HR director do?

A human resources (HR) director oversees a company’s hiring and employee relations. This position often acts as the connection between upper management and its staff. HR directors generally perform the following tasks:

  • Recruit, interview and hire new employees

  • Oversee employee training

  • Manage payroll and employee benefit packages

  • Manage employee issues, such as disputes, and decide on disciplinary actions

  • Interpret and follow current employment laws

  • Communicate and implement strategic planning with department managers

Typical salary

For the most up-to-date salary information from Indeed, click on the salary link.

  • Common salary in the U.S.: $97,564 per year

  • Typical salaries range from $26,000 to $204,000 per year.

HR director requirements

Human resources directors must have a college degree and several years of experience. They should also understand employment laws and benefits programs.

Education, training, certifications

Most HR director positions require a bachelor’s degree in human resources or a similar field, such as business management or finance. Top-level directors or those managing large, complex companies might also need a master’s degree in human resources or business administration.

HR directors benefit from certifications with professional human resources organizations such as the HR Certification Institute, Society for Human Resource Management or International Public Management Association for Human Resources.

Depending on the industry, many HR directors also benefit from ongoing training in specific areas, such as conflict management or healthcare administration. 


HR directors should have the skills to lead and organize a company’s staff. They must also understand local and federal employment laws, benefits packages and HR computer programs. Important HR director skills include:

  • Interpersonal skills: HR directors organize, communicate and interact with a company’s people daily.

  • Leadership skills: An HR director is a leader who oversees a company’s staff and operations. Employees come to them for guidance on workplace relations and employment matters.

  • Decision-making skills: HR directors are responsible for making decisions that can affect an entire company and its employees as well as hiring decisions that lead to productive teams.

  • Organization skills: HR directors must handle multiple projects simultaneously and prioritize their tasks. They are also responsible for maintaining a large amount of data and paperwork.

  • Public speaking and communication skills: HR directors must communicate company policies and decisions clearly and with authority. They often give presentations to employees and lead company meetings.

  • Teamwork: HR directors collaborate with the company’s other managers. They should be able to work well with colleagues during meetings, on projects and when making decisions.

Career outlook

HR director jobs are expected to grow by 9% between 2016 and 2026, according to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics. This growth depends on the formation and expansion of companies that need HR directors to manage their staff and administrative functions. 

HR director positions appear to be highly competitive. Those with advanced degrees or specialization in human resources have the best chances of getting an HR director job.

HR director work environment

Most HR directors work typical office hours with some overtime. HR directors working for companies with multiple branches or offices might have to travel to those locations for meetings, presentations or hiring decisions. Their daily workload depends on the time of year — such as if it’s the end of the fiscal year — or a company’s size and scope.

How to become an HR director

You need years of education and work experience to become an HR director. Here is a series of steps most professionals in this position have taken.

1. Get a bachelor’s degree.

Most HR directors have a degree in human resources, business administration, management or a related field. 

2. Start getting experience.

Consider completing an internship within a company’s human resources department. You may also be able to get an entry-level HR job right out of college. Entry-level HR jobs include human resources specialist, recruiter, associate or administrative assistant in an HR department.

3. Develop your skills.

In addition to learning by experience, you might attend human resources conferences or enroll in online or in-person courses to improve your HR skills. Useful course topics include public speaking, HR technology and leadership skills. Many industries value HR directors who can speak more than one language, so you might take language classes if you work at a company that employs multi-lingual staff.

4. Get a master’s degree.

Advanced human resources or business administration degrees develop your skills and provide a focus on specific areas, such as employment law or international human resources. After several years of work experience, you might consider going back to school to get your master’s.

5. Advance in your career.

Most companies hire HR directors that have at least five years of human resources experience. With the right work background and one or more degrees, you should be well-qualified to be an HR director. Large companies or those in specialized industries typically look for HR directors with more years of experience, higher education or knowledge of their specific industry.

HR director job description example

Our company is looking for an HR director with excellent leadership skills who can manage our staff and help us build an effective human resources program. The HR director will be responsible for all recruiting and hiring decisions, overseeing employee benefits, developing HR policies and keeping us compliant with employment laws. The HR director will work closely with department managers to determine staffing needs, implement human resources strategies and maintain employee relations. The ideal candidate should have excellent communication and public speaking skills and the ability to perform multiple tasks in a fast-paced environment.

Related careers

  • Human resources generalist

  • Administrative manager

  • Training manager

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