Human Resources Manager or Personnel Manager

Human resources managers and personnel managers are responsible for policies and practices in an organization dealing with the recruitment and selection of employees, improving performance and productivity, pay and fringe benefits, and for creating a good relationship between managers and employees.

The tasks of human resources managers differ according to the size and type of organisation. Human resources managers who work in the banking industry for instance, will work with different kinds of employees to those in a mining industry.

They are also responsible for tasks such as the development and updating of human resources development programmes or training programmes, payment practices and staff administration. They ensure that labour laws, wage agreements and conditions of service are followed. They may play a vital role in negotiating with trade unions and employees’ associations as a representative of the management of the organisation, especially if the organisation does not have an industrial relations officer or manager dedicated to this task.

Larger organisations usually have a team of human resources officers who are each experts in one or more aspects of the work. These include staffing, human resources development or training, staff utilisation, organisation planning and development, labour relations, remuneration, research, staff welfare and administration. In larger organisations, a personnel manager may report to a human resources director.

Emerging specialists within this field include international human resources managers, who handle human resources issues related to a company’s foreign operations, and human resources information system specialists, who develop and apply computer programs to process personnel information, match job seekers with job openings and handle other personnel matters.

Human resources managers have ongoing contact with professional associations. They may attend meetings and influence organisation policies relating to staff development and planning.

This is an office role, involving working with people.  Important characteristics are the need to be tactful and friendly, and sometimes, firm, and very careful with confidential information

Personal Requirements

  • speak and write clearly and effectively
  • enjoy working as part of a team
  • fair and objective
  • proficient in languages
  • able to detect problem areas and offer solutions
  • work well with all kinds of people
  • able to make friends easily
  • practical, adaptable and tactful
  • enjoy taking the lead
  • tolerant of different views
  • diplomatic, but also able to be firm

How to Enter

Schooling & School Subjects

  • National Senior Certificate meeting degree requirements for a degree course
  • National Senior Certificate meeting diploma requirements for a diploma course
Each institution has its own entry requirements.

What to Study

Degree: Courses in Human Resource Management or Sciences are available at US, Monash, NWU, UFH, UV, UZ.
Post-graduate: courses are offered at NMMU and UNISA.

Diploma: Human Resources Management is offered at the following universities of technology: UNISA, DUT, VUT, UJ, CPUT, CUT, TUT.

Some TVET colleges offer courses - e.g. Flavius Mareka, SW Gauteng, Port Elizabeth, N Cape, Vuselela, and private colleges such as Intec and Damelin.

A diploma in Personnel Management is also obtainable via a 3-year correspondence course through the Institute of Personnel Management, which offers short courses lasting 6 months in Training Technology.


  • government departments and municipalities
  • mining companies
  • commerce and industry
  • self-employment, for example as an employment agent

Further Information

The South African Board for People Practice
P O Box 2450
Houghton, 2041
Tel: (011) 773-6222

Institute of People Management [SA]
8th Floor
11 Cradock Avenue
Rosebank, 2196
Johannesburg, South Africa 
Tel: (011) 544-4400

Getting Started

  • speak to human resources managers about this type of career
  • develop an interest in the labour laws of the country
  • pay special attention to labour law cases in the media
  • try to get a holiday job in a human resources department of a large organisation

Programmes by Study Institutions

Related Occupations

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