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How to Become an HR Consultant: A Comprehensive Guide

HR Consultant sits at desk in busy office

Human resources (HR) consultants are in high demand as businesses outsource their HR work. The increasing complexity of managing people due to new regulations creates opportunities for consultants.

Small to large companies hire independent consultants to save money and assure they are compliant with all rules. The field offers many job opportunities. Read on to learn how to become a human resources consultant.

What is a Human Resources Consultant?

An HR consultant is a professional who provides advice to businesses on managing their employees and workplace policies. They can also help companies find new staff and provide training and support for existing staff.

If you want to become an HR consultant, you must understand employment law and human resources management. You should also develop effective policies and procedures and have strong communication skills.

It’s also helpful to have experience in recruitment, employee training, and payroll administration. Some HR consultants also specialize in specific areas such as disability management or health and safety.

Related Resource: How to Become a Human Resource Manager

The Steps to Become a Human Resources Consultant

  1. Obtain a bachelor’s degree
  2. Work in the field
  3. Chose a concentration in human resources
  4. Decide if certification or a graduate degree is right for you
  5. Build a solid client base

First Get a Bachelor’s Degree

A bachelor’s degree is required for your professional career as an HR consultant. Your undergraduate education does not need to be specialized.

A degree in business administration or human resource management, on the other hand, may help you get ahead in your profession.

If you have a degree concentrating in human resources, it might be good to mention that on your resume. But only if you’re applying for work in an HR department or with an HR company.

Work in the Field

You can gain experience in this field by pursuing work-study while undergoing a bachelor’s degree program.

This can help you apply what you’ve learned in class to a real-world setting. You also get the privilege of learning from people who have already gone through it.

Entry-level positions with HR companies or in a company’s HR department are alternative options. You may then decide to become an HR consultant once you have enough experience.

Chose a Concentration in Human Resources

Suppose you have a bachelor’s degree in an HR-related discipline. In that case, you undoubtedly have experience with many aspects of human resources.

You may choose to specialize in a type of HR, such as benefits or recruiting. You may also give general HR support across various departments when considering your next career step.

There are many options for people who want to be HR specialists and generalists. You may like one or the other, or you can do both.

Decide if Certification or a Graduate Degree is Right for You

You do not need to be certified to work as an HR consultant. Nevertheless, certification may help you get job offers from new clients and lucrative contracts.

You don’t need a master’s degree to be an HR consultant. But some employers may prefer their HR consultant to have an advanced degree. A master’s degree shows exceptional competence and understanding and will set you apart from other HR consultants.

For a master’s degree in human resources, you generally take courses in business ethics, dispute resolution, and sophisticated labor law. Online classes may be an excellent alternative to traditional face-to-face college classes or evening classes as they allow more flexibility.

Build a Solid Client Base

If you want to start an HR consultancy firm, you’ll need to begin networking and building a client base. You may accomplish this in a variety of ways. Some of these ways include obtaining recommendations from prior employment or college connections.

You can even join a professional association that might assist you in promoting your services. You could also post about your firm on HR-related websites or contribute to a blog or trade publications focused on the subject.

Pursue Further Education

Pursuing further education is an excellent way to keep up with the progress in your field and maintain your skills. It will also help you learn new talents and broaden your knowledge. The more educated you are, the more you can contribute to your clients.

Look for continuing education events and professional organizations such as The Society for Human Resource Management for more information.

What Skills Does a Person Need in an HR Consultancy Career?

Organizational skills, resourcefulness, and persistence help you succeed as an HR consultant. You need knowledge of labor laws regarding hiring practices, employee relations issues at workplaces, etc.

The job requires you to properly understand human behavior as you deal with organizational problems that may sometimes arise. Issues are mainly due to employees’ actions or interactions between co-workers.

Additionally, consultants should retain and develop relationships within and outside their organization (e.g., other consultants).

Finally, as an HR consultant, you must possess strong business acumen and analytical skills. You must identify the root causes behind workplace conflicts/human resources challenges in order to solve them.

Other skills include:

  • Proper sales and negotiation skills
  • Ability to work well in a team
  • Confidence and a positive attitude
  • Excellent communication skills
  • Outstanding organizational and administrative skills
  • Professional manner
  • Ability to work under pressure and meet targets/deadlines

What Education Does a Person Need to Pursue in the HR Consultancy Career?

Because HR consultants tend to have many duties, they need a top-quality education. That means at least a bachelor’s degree and three years of experience.

Being self-employed requires a strong entrepreneurial spirit and self-motivation. But there is no one-size-fits-all answer to this question. The career path you choose will dictate the education, experience, and other qualifications you will need to succeed.

Many HR consultants have a bachelor’s degree in human resources or a related field. Some may also have an MBA or another graduate degree.

If you are starting your career, consider pursuing an associate’s or certificate program in human resources to help you gain the necessary skills and knowledge required. You can then build on this foundation by obtaining additional education and training later.

Whatever route you choose, make sure that a reputable organization accredits the program.

What Degrees Are Beneficial to Becoming an HR Consultant?

A degree in human resources or a related field is beneficial to becoming an HR consultant.
However, many consultants have degrees in other disciplines such as business administration, management, and accounting.

Experience in human resources is also essential. Therefore, working in the HR department of a company can further your career.

Let’s briefly explain these degrees:

Bachelor’s degree in Human Resources

A degree in human resources will give you the knowledge and skills needed to work as an HR consultant. You will learn about employee relations, hiring and firing, benefits and compensation, and training and development.

Best Buy: Bachelor of Arts in Human Resource Management from Concordia University-Saint Paul

Master’s degree in Human Resources

A master’s degree in human resources can help you advance your career as an HR consultant. It will teach you more about HR management, including labor laws, interviewing techniques, and conflict resolution.

Best Buy: Master of Arts in Human Resource Management from Saint Mary’s University of Minnesota

Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration

A business administration degree teaches you the basics of running a company. This includes areas such as accounting, marketing, operations, and finance.

Best Buy: Bachelor of Science in Business Administration from Rivier University

Master’s degree in Business Administration

A master’s degree in business administration can give you a deeper understanding of running a company.

Best Buy: Master of Business Administration from William Carey University

Bachelor’s degree in Management

A management degree teaches you the basics of managing people and resources. You will learn about leadership, team-building, and problem-solving.

Best Buy: Bachelor of Science in Management from Point University

Master’s degree in Management

A graduate degree in management provides more knowledge of managing people and resources.

Best Buy: Master in Management and Leadership from Campbellsville University

Certificate in Human Resources

Many human resources certificates are offered online or through night classes. They teach you the basics of HR, such as employee relations, benefits, and recruiting. Or you can gain a deep understanding in specific topics of HR management.

Best Buy: Could not look up school using "24047"! from Ashworth College

Are there Special Certifications a Person Might Need to Become an HR Consultant?

The HR Certification Institute (HRCI), as well as the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), are two of the most renowned certification bodies.

Some of the special certifications offered by the HRCI include:

  • Professional in Human Resources
  • Global Professional in Human Resources
  • Associate Professional in Human Resources
  • Professional in Human Resources – California
  • Senior Professional in Human Resources

There are two SHRM certifications: the SHRM Certified Professional (SHRM-CP) and the SHRM Senior Certified Professional (SHRM-SCP). These certifications have specific requirements you must meet to take the certification test.

What Does an HR Consultant Do?

Depending on the client’s requirements, an HR consultant’s duties might differ. However, most HR consultants do several tasks, including:

  • Meet with clients to determine their HR issues or needs.
  • Audit the HR activities of their clients to check whether they are compliant.
  • Assess the current HR services and programs to ensure they comply with the state and federal regulations. They also check whether their clients are consistent with industry standards.
  • Work with clients to develop, revise, and implement the right HR policies.
  • Offer HR-related training to all their clients.
  • Analyze data and develop reports for management concerning various HR projects.

What is the Work Environment Like for an HR Consultant?

An HR consultant typically works in an office environment. However, they may also work from home on occasion. The hours can be flexible, but most work during regular business hours.
The work is generally exciting and challenging. It can also be gratifying to help a company improve its employee relations and grow its business.

There are opportunities for career growth as an HR consultant. You can grow your business, hiring other HR staff to help with your clients, moving you into the role of manager or director.

The Benefits of Being an HR Consultant

Being an HR consultant comes with a wide range of benefits. They include the ability to:

  • Choose your clients – You are not stuck with a single company. You can work from home or anywhere you want.
  • Decide on the hours you work – You can decide to work full-time or part-time. This flexibility is excellent for people with other commitments.
  • Earn more than as an employee – Being an HR consultant comes with a lot of responsibility. As a result, many consultants earn more than regular employees.
  • Be the expert – When it comes to HR, you know what works and what does not. This is because you’ve probably been in many different workplaces and have seen how other systems can work.
  • Help people – This is the best benefit of all! By becoming an HR consultant, you help people with their careers and lives. You’re like a career coach or life coach, but for the workplace.

The Drawbacks of Being an HR Consultant

Like most careers, being an HR Consultant also comes with its drawbacks. These drawbacks include:

  • Limited support – As an HR Consultant you are your own boss. You will be working on your own which can be challenging if you need help or support.
  • Less perceived job security – Being self-employed, you may miss the security you feel working for a company. However, your drive and motivation to succeed can put you in control of your income.

Average Salary of an HR Consultant

An HR consultant’s average annual salary is $68,466. Per to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the employment rate for HR consultants is anticipated to rise 7% by 2029.

Job opportunities for HR consultants are expected to increase in the coming years. Compared to other jobs, this is a faster growth rate, mainly because more businesses are outsourcing their HR needs due to the growing complexity of HR laws and regulations.

Important Points to Note

  • There will be an increased demand for business acumen and strong analytical skills. New hires must possess technical expertise and solid communication skills more than ever before. Those who can translate complex information into simple language that managers understand will advance in this field.
  • Companies will look for organized, driven consultants with strong interpersonal skills. You will need soft skills such as listening ability and empathy and hard skills such as critical thinking or problem-solving. Highlight your ability to manage projects effectively by demonstrating how you stay on top of deadlines while maintaining a positive attitude.
  • Show that you are comfortable working in busy, fast-paced environments where there’s always something new to learn.
  • Demonstrate a passion for HR – You need to express interest in the industry and enthusiasm for helping people grow professionally.
  • Demonstrate an understanding of what makes their business unique, whether it is their culture or vision or family ownership structure.
  • Those who hire you will need you to understand why they do things the way they do.

Opportunities for Advancement in the HR Consultancy Career

If you’re thinking of becoming an HR Consultant, it’s important to think beyond the ordinary. But how can you advance in this career? There are many opportunities to grow in the HR Consultancy career. Check them out below.

Consider Creating a Business Plan

If you’re starting your own business, you’ll need to choose a company name, locate office space, and work with accountants and attorneys to see whether incorporation is required. Even if you are employed by someone else, you may still create a plan to chart the course of your career advancement.

This plan is to help you lay out your professional and financial objectives. Consider what milestones you want to achieve within a specific time frame. Additionally, consider where you want your career to be in five years and how much money you want to make.

Get a Mentor

Find a role model or mentor who has obtained what you aspire to. This can be an HR manager or someone with expertise in a field relevant to your studies.

They may assist you in your career by advising you on advancing methods. And perhaps even introduce you to people who can help you reach where they are.

Willingness to Take on Projects

Look for ways to improve your skills in your current job by tackling complex assignments.

Not only will taking initiative help you advance in your career, but it could also lead to more exciting project work and perhaps even a promotion opportunity.

Improve Your Communication Skills

Communication is a critical component of your job as an HR consultant. Good communication skills may make a difference in your success and are helpful whether you are advising a client, managing conflict, or negotiating pay with a new employee.

To help you develop your communication skills, consider taking classes in person or online or reading professional self-improvement books.

FAQs

How Do I Start HR Consulting?

If you want to launch an HR Consulting business, here are some essential steps you need to follow:

  • First, become an HR Consultant – You need to complete the necessary training and education to become a consultant in HR.
  • Create a business plan – The next step is to create a business plan that outlines all your HR consulting business details. Having a clear goal will help you establish a good HR consulting business. Your plan ensures that you consider and develop every aspect of your business.
  • Establish a legal entity – The third step is to establish your HR consulting business as a legal entity. You will create a company name, choose a legal structure, and register with your state’s secretary of state. You can choose to register the business online depending on your state, use an attorney, or go to the nearest government office for registration.
  • Get the required license – You also need to apply for the necessary license to operate an HR consulting business. The good news is that you can quickly obtain a license once you register your business with the government.
  • Build and promote your brand – This is probably the most crucial part of every business. Once you have everything in place, you need to build and promote your brand as much as possible. You can do this by creating an online presence for your HR consulting business, such as social media pages and even a website.

How Does an HR Consultant Find Clients?

One of the most common ways to find clients is by word of mouth. If you know someone who can recommend your services, that is likely where they will go first for professional advice. Another way companies often meet consulting needs is through business networking events and conferences which focus on HR or related topics.

Client acquisition strategies vary based on industry, company size, and many other factors. Networking events or conferences provide opportunities for human resource consultants. Also, social media strategies play a significant role in client acquisition.

Can You Get Rich as an HR Consultant?

According to a recent survey, there is still hope for HR professionals that want to become rich.

Many companies are currently spending more money on human resources services and management than ever before. The amount of money spent increases each year.

This means that now could be an excellent time to start your career as a consultant or expert if you have experience working within these sectors.

Related Resource: The 19 Highest Paying Business Degree Jobs

Can You Make Six Figures as an HR Consultant?

The answer to this question is a resounding yes! Many HR consultants make over $100,000 per year. If you’re looking to make a lot of money and help others in the process, becoming an HR consultant may be the perfect career for you.

Conclusion

A career as an HR consultant is an excellent opportunity to be involved in the human resources industry. Every company that has employees is in need of HR guidance. Opportunities for work in this field are abundant. Ensure you have good communication skills, an entrepreneurial spirit, and can work with people respectfully and tactfully.

Hopefully this post has helped you learn what you need to know about how to become a human resources consultant. Considering the HR consultancy career path can lead to a long and satisfying work life. You can make a difference in the business world.

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