A professional qualification in recruitment or human resources (HR) can vastly improve your career prospects. Find out why this is the case…

Do I need to do postgraduate study?

This depends on the occupation that you're interested in and your level of entry.

Many large companies - and some bigger recruitment consultancies - advertise graduate schemes in HR or recruitment. These are aimed at newly-qualified graduates with limited work experience. You may then require professional training or a postgraduate degree to progress into a middle or senior management role.

Some employers, such as Rolls-Royce, offer employees the financial support to undertake professional training with the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD). Similarly, the Civil Service Fast Stream talent management programme helps graduates to study for a Masters in human resources alongside their CIPD qualifications.

There's strong competition for roles within HR. If you haven't studied a related degree and wish to join a smaller company, it may be advantageous to study for a related postgraduate degree and/or a CIPD qualification.

You don't need a postgraduate degree to work in recruitment as a consultant. However, professional training courses offered by the Institute of Recruitment Professionals (IRP) may help to build your skills and knowledge.

To work as an occupational psychologist, you'll need a British Psychological Society-accredited Masters, followed by a Doctorate in occupational psychology.

For more information on entry requirements and career development in the recruitment and HR sector, see job profiles.

Search postgraduate courses in human resource management.

Should I join a professional body?

Joining a professional body is voluntary for most jobs in this sector. However, becoming a member of one can be valuable for developing networks and continuing professional development (CPD).

For example, joining the CIPD can help you to gain chartership and access to the resources that you need to keep your skills as a HR professional up to date. According to Skills CFA Human Resources Labour Market Report 2012, those who hold CIPD membership have an increased likelihood of earning above the £44,033 average salary for HR professionals.

Which professional qualifications are recognised in the sector?

There are several professional bodies in the recruitment and HR industry that offer qualifications.

  • Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) - This is a professional body for those working in HR and people development across the private, public and voluntary sectors. Qualifications are available from foundation to advanced level. Members can achieve chartered status after gaining the Level 7 Advanced Level Diploma.
  • Recruitment & Employment Confederation (REC) - This represents organisations and individuals in the recruitment industry, and offers training courses in areas including sales, management and marketing.
  • Institute of Recruitment Professionals (IRP) - Part of the REC, this organisation offers an entry-level certificate for those new to recruitment and a professional-level Diploma in Recruitment Management for those with greater experience.