Is Teaching HR Right For You?

While not easy to land, a part-time teaching job offers numerous benefits, say HR professionals who have done it.

By Rita Zeidner August 29, 2023

​Are you looking for a way to breathe new life into your HR career and give back to the profession? Teaching HR at the college or community college level may be your ticket.

“Teaching has been a very rewarding experience for me,” says Nicole Baldi, who teaches HR management classes part time at Baruch College in New York City. “I have the opportunity to educate and inspire young minds to have successful careers and to influence and shape their business perspective.”

Baldi, the regional human resources director for a law firm in New York City, says teaching also broadens her perspective and makes her better at her day job.

Paying It Forward

Taking on a part-time teaching role has its advantages, according to HR professionals who have pursued that route. Although no one gets rich off the salary—typically $1,000 to $3,000 per class—it’s hard to discount the value of getting paid to do something that’s fun, says Adam Calli, SHRM-CP, an HR consultant in Fairfax, Va., who began teaching at nearby George Mason University in 2013.

“I feel like I’m giving back to my profession,” Calli says. “It’s been good to me for a decade, and this is a way to give back.”

Don Hermann, SHRM-SCP, an HR executive at a home health care organization in Green Bay, Wis., who has taught college-level HR classes for over 10 years, says that teaching forces him to stay current on HR issues. It also ensures that his public speaking skills remain sharp.

Some say they like having the opportunity to help develop future HR professionals and show them the merits of the HR function.

“I want others to see HR from a different perspective than just employee relations or compliance,” says Annette Harris, SHRM-CP, a senior HR director for a cigar manufacturer in Jacksonville, Fla., who began teaching human resource strategies, talent acquisition and people analytics through Southern New Hampshire University’s (SNHU’s) online program earlier this year. “I want people to know that we’re not just the police who people come to when there’s a problem.”

Getting Started

Think that teaching might be for you? Here are some steps to get you on your way:

Focus on learning. If you adopt a “promotion mindset” and concentrate on the potential positives of networking, you’re more likely to perceive the activity as an opportunity for discovery rather than a chore.

Earn a master’s degree. Although you don’t need a master’s degree to be an HR professional, most colleges require at least that level of education to teach, says Kris Greening, SHRM-SCP, who works with administrators to determine hiring criteria at North Arkansas College. Many administrators don’t care whether a master’s degree is earned online or through a traditional in-person program. But a professional certification without a master’s degree generally will not be enough to impress the folks doing the hiring. 

Expand your professional network. The recent proliferation of online universities has increased teaching opportunities for HR professionals, but positions are still difficult to come by. That’s where networking comes in. Look for opportunities to build connections with college administrators and other instructors by attending SHRM events and other business associations’ meetings. Don’t be shy about asking your academic connections if they know of any open positions, and if they do, ask about strategies for getting your resume in front of the right people.

Leverage your past education. Look for opportunities to increase your visibility at your alma mater. If you’re still in school, seek out ways to strengthen your ties with faculty. While working on her master’s degree at Georgetown, Chelsea Stearns, SHRM-CP, jumped at the chance to help teach a SHRM certification prep class. Based on the positive feedback she received from students, she was offered other teaching opportunities. In addition to teaching at Georgetown, she is the faculty advisor for the university’s SHRM student chapter. 

Establish a teaching track record. Even with a master’s degree, you’re likely to face stiff competition for a limited number of teaching slots. Hone your skills—and prove your interest in becoming an educator—by teaching in other venues first. Start by offering to help out at SHRM certification prep classes or give presentations to other business groups. —R.Z.

Mining Talent

It’s not just the students who benefit when HR professionals take to the classroom. Some say their employers benefit, as well. 

“Teaching helps me build a talent pipeline,” Baldi says. “I know I need sharp, hardworking HR practitioners. By teaching, I get to know my students’ communication and writing skills. I get to see who has the ability to see a project through to the end.”

Of the 25 to 35 students she teaches each semester, Baldi says she typically hires three to five of the brightest stars, which eases the law firm’s recruitment burden and costs. Meanwhile, her record of hiring the college’s recent graduates makes her a favorite with the college dean. 

“If you can get students jobs, the administration is happy,” she says.

Chelsea Stearns, SHRM-CP, the HR director for a defense contractor in Alexandria, Va., who teaches HR classes through Georgetown University’s online program, says she has gotten positive feedback from her employer, who sees her as a goodwill ambassador.

“I’m passionate about the defense and space industry,” she says.

For Kris Greening, SHRM-SCP, teaching college-level courses such as general HR, business communications and leadership was not only a natural extension of her job as HR director at a community college in north Arkansas. It also helped her gain credibility with the faculty. 

However, despite her 15 years of experience in HR and her senior HR credential from SHRM, the school still required her to earn a master’s degree in order to qualify as a college instructor.

Getting Noticed

Securing a teaching position doesn’t always come easily. Baldi says she heard nothing back on the applications she submitted to institutions that posted openings. Things turned around, however, when she emailed her resume directly to the chair of the management department at Baruch. 

“I got a call from the chair that same week,” she says. “On the spot, he told me I got the job.”

Harris says she wanted to teach ever since she finished graduate school, but it took 15 years for a teaching opportunity to come her way. She got her break late last year, when SNHU contacted her a few days after she submitted an application through

On vacation at the time, she says she quickly switched gears, threw a shirt on over her bathing suit and clicked on the link to launch the video interview that was the first step in the hiring process. After clearing that hurdle, she was asked to complete a writing test that involved responding to a hypothetical student’s concerns about a grade. She learned she got the job during a Zoom meeting with one of the school’s deans and began teaching several weeks later.

All of which means that finding the right teaching role is a lot like finding any job: It requires diligence, resourcefulness and strong networking skills.   

Rita Zeidner is a freelance writer in Falls Church, Va. 

Photo: Drazen Zigic/iStock



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