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Human resources (HR) is a dynamic field that focuses on recruiting, developing, and managing employees to help organizations achieve their goals. As companies grow and the job market evolves, there is an increasing demand for qualified HR professionals who can bring strategic value to the table.


If you’re interested in starting a career in HR, going through a foundational HR course or certification program as a beginner will give you vital knowledge and skills for the job. In this blog, we’ll explore some of the most essential entry-level HR courses and training that can set you up for success.

Why Take HR Courses as a Beginner?


Taking dedicated HR classes and training—even online courses—as a complete beginner is important for several reasons:


  • Learn in-demand skills: You’ll gain functional expertise in core areas like recruitment, employee relations, compensation and benefits, training and development, and workplace safety regulations. These skills are sought after by employers.
  • Understand HR from a business perspective: You’ll learn how strategic HR directly impacts a company’s bottom line and culture. This helps you bring more value to organizations as an HR professional.
  • Gain credibility through certifications: Relevant certifications on your resume demonstrate your commitment to the field and also help you qualify for better HR jobs.
  • Expand your professional network: HR training programs allow you to connect with fellow professionals, instructors, mentors, and recruiters who can help grow your career.


Now let’s look at some of the best introductory HR courses and certificates for beginners.


Essential Entry-Level HR Courses and Certifications


  1. CGHR:  Certified Generalist in Human Resource Course

Offered by: Wissen International Human Resource Academy

This course offers comprehensive training across key areas of human resources including recruitment, compensation and benefits, employee relations, and health and safety regulations. Earning the CGHR certification validates your proficiency in generalist HR functions.


  1. Fundamentals of Human Resources course

Offered by: Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM)

This 15-hour online HR basics course offered by the world’s largest HR association is perfect for those who want a flexible, self-paced introduction to core HR responsibilities.


Some key topics covered in this human resource course:


  • HR roles
  • Recruitment
  • Employee relations
  • Labor laws
  • Compensation and benefits plans

You also get sample HR forms, policies, and best practices you can apply right away. Take this affordable human resources course online to lay the proper groundwork for an HR career.


  1. Professional in Human Resources (PHR) certification

Offered by: HR Certification Institute (HRCI)

While the PHR exam is meant for experienced HR professionals, HR newcomers and those transitioning into HR can also benefit from the well-structured PHR certification preparation programs. They offer in-depth training on human resources skills like:


  • HR operations
  • Recruiting
  • Employee development
  • Labor and employee relations
  • Compensation and benefits


Many PHR prep courses also provide practice tests to help you prepare for the exam. Getting PHR-certified early on can significantly boost your knowledge as well as job prospects.


  1. Associate Professional in Human ResourcesTM (aPHRTM) certification 

Offered by: HR Certification Institute (HRCI)

The aPHR from HRCI is a specially designed credential for HR practitioners who are just stepping into HR or have little work experience.

To qualify for the aPHR, you must have a high school diploma or equivalent. Some key areas covered in exam prep programs are:


  • U.S. laws and regulations
  • HR operations
  • Recruitment and selection
  • Learning and development
  • HR administration and management


Earning the aPHR displays your commitment and proves your readiness to grow in an HR career. It’s a great boost for entry-level human resources jobs.

  1. Introduction to HR course 

Offered by: Cornell University (eCornell)

Cornell University offers an excellent introduction to human resources courses through eCornell, their online learning platform.


This 8-week Certificate Program equipped with a global Cornell faculty provides new or prospective HR professionals with a concrete grasp of key concepts like:


  • The evolving role of HR leadership
  • Using workforce analytics
  • Building a competitive talent strategy
  • Maintaining regulatory compliance
  • And more

This human resources course teaches core HR topics from a strategic business perspective using a cutting-edge curriculum.


  1. HR Generalist Job Ready Certificate 

Offered by: International Association for Continuing Education and Training (IACET)

This online entry-level course helps early-career HR professionals acquire the competencies needed for HR coordinator, specialist, manager, or director roles.


Learners gain knowledge in critical introductory areas like:


  • Principles of human resource management
  • HR regulations
  • Recruiting and talent assessment
  • Employee relations
  • Instructional design for workplace learning


With an HR Generalist Job Ready certificate on your resume, you can confidently apply for junior HR positions.


  1. HR Fundamentals Course 

Offered by:


This comprehensive online human resources course is designed for those new to the HR domain. It covers fundamental HR concepts across core areas like:


  • HR strategy: Learn how to align human resource objectives with overall business goals
  • Recruitment: Understand sourcing, attracting and hiring the best talent
  • Talent management: Grasp retaining and developing employee skills
  • Development: Know how to coach and train employees for advancement  


The course provides beginner-level human resource training through bite-sized videos explaining each topic, along with knowledge checks to reinforce learning. This is an essential introductory HR program for novices.  


  1. Fundamentals of HR Management Certificate   

Offered by: Southern New Hampshire University


This fully online human resource course from Southern New Hampshire University offers flexible, self-paced learning for HR starters. Key aspects covered are:


  • Employee relations: Managing productive workplace relationships
  • Total rewards: Elements of compensation, benefits and recognition  
  • HR technologies: Using systems for core functions like payroll, attendance etc.  
  • Employment law: Federal laws around hiring, safety, diversity etc.


Learners develop fundamental know-how of various human resource responsibilities. Earning this university certificate validates your basic HR skills comprehension for entry-level job roles requiring knowledge of HR principles and practices.


  1. HR Basics Online Training Program    

Offered by: HRsoft 


This comprehensive HR basics course is tailored specifically for complete HR novices. It covers introductory-level topics integral to human resource management through multiple learning modules like:  


  • HR compliance: HR policies and procedures adherence  
  • Compensation planning: Pay structures, job evaluation, salary benchmarking   
  • Workforce planning: Assessing current and future people’s needs
  • Talent acquisition: Strategies for finding and hiring candidates
  • HR administration systems: Technology tools for core HR work  


The easy-to-grasp human resource training program prepares new learners for fundamental HR responsibilities in coordinating, supporting and managing people-related organizational activities.  


  1. Introduction to HR Certificate Course   

Offered by: University of California, Irvine 


This professional human resource course from UC Irvine offers HR principles and best practices learning vital for beginners through topics like:


  • Human capital strategy: Using HR to create business value 
  • Employment laws: Staying legally compliant across HR processes  
  • Job performance analysis: Assessing contributions and productivity
  • Workforce planning: Forecasting talent needs  
  • Recruiting: Sourcing and selecting people to meet needs


The comprehensive course curriculum ensures novices gain a well-rounded knowledge of human resource concepts essential in the modern workplace.

More Learning Opportunities to Advance Your HR Career


The HR domain is constantly evolving with ongoing regulatory changes, new workplace tech trends, sophisticated hiring practices, and so on. So continuous learning should be integral to your career growth and survival as an HR pro.


Here are some quick suggestions for supplemental learning after introductory HR courses:


  • HR blogs and publications to stay updated on trends/news
  • HR or business analytics course to crunch workforce data and metrics
  • Training in HR information systems (HRIS) / HR software tools
  • Diversity, equity & inclusion (DEI) training
  • People management and leadership development programs
  • Mini-courses on digital recruitment, virtual onboarding, video interviewing etc.


The i4cp (Institute for Corporate Productivity) also releases an annual report on emerging high-impact HR skills that deliver strong ROI to companies. Review these to prioritize salient skills each year.


Advancing your expertise over time by learning emergent HR competencies will ensure you remain professionally competitive.


Summing It Up

These were five of the best essential HR courses and entry-level credentials for HR newcomers. Consider signing up for one or more based on your specific career goals.


Grasping HR basics through structured coursework gives you practical learning with direct on-the-job application. Then continue expanding your knowledge for greater success by:


  • Earning higher certifications like PHR, SHRM-CP etc.
  • Specializing in high-value HR functions like People Analytics
  • Getting supplemental training in emerging workplace skills


With some formal HR training behind you initially, you’ll gain confidence as well as credibility to thrive in your HR career journey as a lifelong learner.



  1. Here are some common questions about essential entry-level HR courses:


Which is the best HR course for beginners without experience?

For true beginners, the Fundamentals of Human Resources course by the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) offers an ideal concise yet comprehensive introduction to core HR responsibilities like staffing, development, compensation etc. with downloadable tools/templates.


2. What is the fastest or quickest HR certification I can get as a beginner?


The Associate Professional in Human Resources (aPHR) credential is the fastest entry-level certification you can attain to validate your foundational HR skills for junior roles. Various accelerated exam prep programs are available to qualify for the aPHR test.


3. What online HR courses should I take to learn skills needed on the job?


To gain in-demand HR skills, some valuable online courses include:


  • Recruitment/Talent Acquisition Certification by Maree Moscati LLC to master strategic hiring
  • HR Analytics Certificate by UC Davis Extension to learn workforce metrics analysis
  • Certificate in Diversity & Inclusion Management from Cornell University to champion belonging at work


4. Is getting an HR certification worth it if I don’t have any experience?


Yes, earning a reputable beginner HR certification like aPHR even without experience displays your commitment to the field and enhances your qualifications for associate HR positions to then gain on-the-job exposure. So it certainly adds career value.