Career Preparation & Planning

Career Preparation & Planning

Now more than ever, HR professionals are integral to aligning the human capital strategy with the business strategy to positively impact an organization's bottom line. Pursuing a career in HR takes careful planning, and SHRM has developed a career path to help you launch you HR career.  

Download this illustration that shows how to start and navigate a successful career in the growing and challenging field of human resources. 

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Use the information here to navigate your way to a successful career that starts with education, is bolstered by internships and experiential learning, is capped with an exam that shows you have mastered what you need to know to be successful and puts you firmly on the path toward refining your competencies and earning professional competency-based certification once eligible. 

SHRM Is Your Career Partner

Effective HR practices and forward-thinking human capital strategies are integral to organizational success. But these are skills and competencies that can't simply be learned on the job. That's why, in today's demanding job market, it takes continuous learning, authoritative resources and a strong network to be a stand-out HR professional or a successful HR leader. That's where SHRM membership comes in.

MEMBERS-ONLY RESOURCES. Hear what our members say about how SHRM is advancing the profession and serving HR professionals throughout their careers.




"My SHRM membership initially gave me credibility within my organization and now provides me tools and resources to take my teams to the next level." 

 Jeff Luttrell, SHRM-SCP

CERTIFICATION. Looking to expand your competencies or take the next career step through HR certification? The SHRM-CP and SHRM-SCP are the fastest-growing accredited HR credentials, held by more than 100,000 HR professionals. A SHRM competency-based certification shows employers that you are committed to developing and maintaining the proficiencies that make you the best in the business.   


Students may also be eligible to apply for the SHRM-CP exam. Beginning in 2017, students who are in their final year of an HR bachelor's or master's degree at a university whose HR degree program aligns with SHRM Curriculum Guidelines are eligible to apply for the SHRM-CP certification exam. Visit the Student SHRM-CP Eligibility page for more information. 

"SHRM-CP certification gave exposure to the HR best practices from HR professionals around the world."

– Rami Busbait, SHRM-CP

NETWORKING. Or, turn to SHRM to build your network and exchange ideas with other SHRM members. SHRM Connect is a vibrant online community, filled with thought-provoking member-to-member discussions.  


Interested in engaging with fellow HR professionals about HR career development topics? Join SHRM's HR Career Development group!

Looking for an in-person community? Check out one of SHRM's more than 500 local chapters. 


“The opportunities and resources that SHRM has provided me have taken me from entry-level HR to a SHRM-SCP-certified HR consultant, owning my own HR consulting business!”

 Ronda Wakefield, SHRM-SCP

STUDENTS. Studying HR as a student? Leverage SHRM articles and research studies for classroom assignments. Or gain additional opportunities by joining your local student SHRM chapter. 


HR DEGREE PROGRAMS. SHRM's HR Program Directory is the first place you can refer anyone interested in an HR degree program—all the programs in this directory meet SHRM's requirements for required course work in HR.

SHRM has worked with hundreds of universities to examine and analyze degree program content to ensure it follows the curriculum standards we recommend. SHRM's Curriculum Guidelines and Templates serve as the basis for all things related to HR academics. The guidelines define the minimum standards for HR education at the bachelor's and master's levels and integrate HR competencies for early-career HR professionals. These standards reflect what faculty teach and what HR professionals require in the knowledge base and skills sets of entry-level HR professionals. About 450 university programs follow SHRM's curriculum guidelines. 

College & Career Prep 

Some business colleges host targeted summer programs for high school students to introduce them to the field of business. Typically, students learn about different degree choices or career options in business, such as HR, at these summer programs. Some camps have sponsors, which provides an opportunity for SHRM chapters or state councils who wish to fund a camp. Check out the International directory of Business Week summer camps to find a camp near you. 

High school career/guidance counselors have access to online resources such as CollegeData's Counselor Portal or Naviance's College and Career Readiness Solutions for information on college majors. Future Business Leaders of America (FBLA) is a nonprofit membership association of students preparing for careers in business and business-related fields. FBLA is the largest student-run organization in the U.S., with more than a quarter million members, and is one of the largest business-related organizations in the world. SHRM is involved with FBLA because of its mission to prepare better business professionals by starting students on the correct pathway while still in high school. FBLA’s structure is one that mirrors SHRM’s chapter structure—a great deal is accomplished at the state and local level. Reach out to your local high school(s) to determine if the guidance counselors conduct a Career Day at the school or if the school has formed a FBLA club. If so, offer to become involved.

Check the national FBLA website to learn about regional and national leadership conferences, which include competitions for special interest groups (SIGs), including human resources. Students in these SIGs participate in a variety of competitions over the course of several days, specifically on the discipline of HR. 

“SHRM has enabled me to gain knowledge outside of my university’s curriculum, make valuable connections, build my leadership skills and grow as an aspiring HR professional.” 

– Gwyn Dubel, Baldwin Wallace University Student Chapter

Additional Resources


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SHRM's HR Knowledge Advisors offer guidance and resources to assist members with their HR inquiries.

SHRM's HR Knowledge Advisors offer guidance and resources to assist members with their HR inquiries.



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