The world of Human Resources is constantly evolving, and offers some really satisfying and varied career paths. You won't go far in it without a bit of professional development, though.

So if you're in HR, or looking to get into it, investing in yourself (and your staff if you're a manager) is super important for keeping your skills fresh. It'll help you become more indispensable at work, opening up new job possibilities and raising the ceiling of your earning potential.

HR is a fast-growing field with lots of opportunities. Most businesses that employ more than a few people need some sort of human resource support, so as long as certain sectors of the economy continue to grow, there'll always be prospects for work out there.

Wondering what to study? There are different levels of education that you can use in your HR career.

  • Entry-level - you don't necessarily need to go back to school, but you can always try an online course if you want a change of pace and new skills without leaving your desk or budget behind.
  • Short courses - these can last a number of weeks, and you might take them part-time or in the evenings. Often they'll cover one particular aspect of HR and you'll be awarded a certificate
  • Professional - graduate-level or above, these qualifications can take months or years to complete and require a good deal of dedication.
  • Informal - think of these as 'life long learning' - they might be books, podcasts, lectures, or other bits of media that can really help you develop your skills in a non-certified way.

But how can you figure out what's worth your time, money and effort? Well, we've got that covered for you. Below is a list of the top HR courses we think are worth the money (and when you're done, head over to our career advice for HR professionals for more advice).

Top 10 HR courses

1 ) The Knowledge Academy - Introduction to HR

This is a one-day, instructor led course that covers everything you need to know about HR.

You don't need any existing qualifications beforehand and there's no exams you need to pass.

The online course is £495, so it's not cheap. But there are discount codes available and if it'll kickstart your career in HR it's certainly worth a go.

2 ) FutureLearn HR Fundamentals

Similar to the above, this course is a bit less detailed but still has a broad syllabus that'll get beginners up to scratch on HR in no time. It covers general HR, people and strategy, rewards and recognition, as well as recruitment. The course takes 5 weeks and you can learn at your own pace, studying around 3 hours per week. It's free to study, although you can pay £42 for lifetime access and a certificate of completion.

There are loads of positive reviews from previous students - why not give it a go?  

3 ) CIPD HR Business Partner Programme

For those that want to take the leap from HR generalist or work in other 'people professions' this course will help you become a HR Business Partner. As the CIPD mentions, "HR Business Partners (HRBPs) work closely with business leaders and line managers to build their people capability, plan and manage talent and develop approaches that achieve shared organisational objectives."

If you're ambitious and ready to take on a more senior role within HR then this course, from the UK's most highly-regarded certification body, is the one for you. The course takes 4-6 months to complete and costs £2430 for members, £2700 for non-members.

4 ) CIPD HR Business Partner Masterclass

This one's aimed at HR business partners who are already established in their career but want to take things to the next level. It's a high-level, strategic and interactive course that'll help you develop your business mindset along with using data to make HR decisions. By the end of it, you'll have developed skills in building commercial acumen, data analytics, influencing and coaching.  

The fee is £1458 for CIPD members and £1620 for non-members. It takes place over 12 one-hour sessions over the course of 4 weeks.


5 ) The Payroll Centre - Payroll qualifications

This is actually a range of courses provided by The Payroll Centre, that goes from entry-level Payroll Assistant courses with no required experience, to International Payroll Manager.

If you're looking to specialise in payroll or are already partway through a payroll career, each of these courses could take you up to the next level in your professional life.  Prices and durations differ, of course, but each one is available to study online.

6 ) CIPD - The Psychology of Organisational Culture and Climate short course

We're back with the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development, this time with a short deep-dive into one of their specifics. This course is part of their Core Knowledge curriculum which aims to give you a broad knowledge base of all things HR through smaller, more digestible courses rather than the larger qualifications.

Helping you use the power of organisational culture to enhance work performance,  it's a one-day course priced at £594 for members and £654 for non-members.

7 ) Reed HR Courses

Reed has a massive range of online HR courses that appear to be heavily discounted - for example, an RRP of £395 selling for just £10. Here's a tip - anything that says "sale ends tomorrow" can be ignored, online courses like these (or ones you find on Groupon or Udemy) are almost always on sale, so the real RRP here is £10.

These can be genuinely good value, but the low price means you might not be as motivated to complete them as you would having spent hundreds on them. Some of them say they'll hundreds of hours to complete and have tutors, exams and certificates. At those prices, you'd have good reason to be skeptical.

You're not guaranteed a great experience or worthwhile certification with these, so be careful and do your research before you commit time and money.

8 ) TED talks on HR and culture

TED talks are always good for expanding your brain, and of course free to watch. You can't get better value for money than that.

In this case, try searching for 'HR' or 'company culture' - you're almost guaranteed to find something inspiring and enlightening from the original thinkers on show.

Patty McCord's 'HR lessons from the world of Silicon Valley start-ups' is a good place to start, as well at the timeless Stefan Sagmeister on why his studio takes a sabbatical every 7 years.

9 ) Degree in HR

It's possible to study for a full time, three-year degree in Human Resource Management at universities around the country, which could set you up for a promising career in HR. With one of these, you could end up as a HR business partner, recruitment consultant, trainer, equality advisor, consultant or something else.

Have a look at your options on WhatUni - there are 74 institutions available offering HR studies. That said, this is by far the priciest option - around £9k per year means it's not for everyone.

10 ) Masters in HR

And once you've got that degree, the next  logical step would be to get a masters degree. You could study for one straight away, or you might be better off working in the field for a few years before returning. Full-time masters HR degrees are usually one year in length, and you can study them at various universities and business schools around the country.

Pricing depends on the institution you choose, but it will be in the multiple thousands of pounds. It's a rather large commitment financially, even if you secure funding assistance, so make sure you're ready to work hard and see things through.