The Best Free HR Courses 2021

The Best Free HR Courses 2021

Human resources departments are an essential function of most businesses, and they can be in a constant state of flux depending on many external societal factors. It can be quite mind-boggling to keep up to date on the various practices. The good news is there are several completely free resources out there for the professional as well as the neophyte when it comes to human resources.

If you’re an HR expert or interested in a career in human resources, then taking a free course might be the next step you need to take. This is a no-nonsense way of making sure you’re interested in the career path itself. However, if you’re currently a human resources professional and if you would like to brush up on your skills a bit more, then partaking in a free educational course certainly wouldn’t hurt either.

In this article, we’ve compiled some of the best free human resources educational courses for you to choose from. We did our best to choose from a variety of topics, from generalized survey courses to more niche subject matter relating to the practice.

Orientation: Understanding Free HR Courses

Human resources are not only a very important part of modern-day business practices, but it can be a highly lucrative career for the individual as well. In this section, we’re going to go over some things you need to look for in online HR courses.

Maximize Your Time: Things to Look For in a Free Online HR Course

While all of these courses are free, one thing that isn’t free is your time. We want you to have the knowledge necessary to pick the best course for your individual goals. To help this process, here are a few considerations before choosing one (or two) of the courses listed in this article.

Subject Matter

Many introductory HR courses are going to be all-encompassing and cover a lot of different topics in the course of several hours or even months. Other courses are more in-depth and specialized, and allow you work at your own pace with varying degrees of content provided in them. Some focus on the more niche aspects of HR, such as teaching best diversity practices or even how to effectively hire the right kinds of people.

Length

Some of the courses listed below are one-shots that you can take in just an hour or two. Others are long-term that can last for many months, and are highly involved. It really comes down to your overall interest and how much time you have to commit to your continuing education. Be mindful of your time constraints when picking a course, even if it happens to be free.

Accreditation

Choosing an accredited institution or university is a good idea when pursuing these courses. The good news is many of the courses on our list are from top-quality education providers, such as LinkedIn and Coursera.

It’s worth mentioning, however, that other providers of online courses, such as Udemy, also have many top-quality courses to take even if they aren’t provided by academic institutions. When in doubt, check up on the background of the course’s teacher to see if their knowledge base matches your future goals.

Career Goals

Be aware that most of the courses presented here on this list will not lead to any kind of college credit that can further your academic progress. However, if you’re looking for education in the field that might prompt you towards getting a more advanced degree from an established organization or university, you can’t go wrong here.

Cheat Sheet

We’ve chosen a variety of free HR courses in this article. We also know that you might only be looking for a very specific aspect of the human resources industry. To expedite this process, here’s a small breakdown of each of the courses we review below so that you can find which ones pertain the most to you and your future career goals.

TitlePlatformCourse LengthFocusRating
Human Resource Management: HR for People Managers SpecializationCoursera6 monthsComplete Human Resources Learning Track5.0
Human Resources FoundationsLinkedIn47 minHR Survey Course5.0
Recruiting FoundationsLinkedIn2hr 24minHR Recruiting Techniques4.5
Interview Training for Hiring Managers and TeamsUdemy52minInterview Training4.5
Diversity, Inclusion and BelongingLinkedIn43minDiversity in HR4.5
Interviewing TechniquesLinkedIn1hr 17minInterviewing Prospective Hires4.5
Managing Human Resources in the Hospitality and Tourism IndustryEdx8 weeksHR in Tourism and Hospitality Industries4.5
Crash Course in HRMUdemy45minHuman Resources Survey Cour4.0
Alison Diploma in Human ResourcesAlison10 weeksSurvey of Human Resources3.5

TOP 9 BEST FREE HR COURSES 2021


1. Human Resource Management: HR for People Managers Specialization

  • Around 6 months Free, $49 for a certificate Our rating  
  • Course Highlights
  • Focus: Complete Human Resources Learning Track
  • Teachers: John W. Budd, Amy Simon, Stacy Doepner-Hove, Larry Bourgerie, Alan Benson, Mike Davis
  • Great guide to real-world HR practice

Why we like it

In this complete course on human resources, you will learn almost everything you need to know to become knowledgeable in HR practices.

What You'll Learn

Coursera Specialization courses are compiled from a list of courses that are already on the Coursera website. They are put together so that the student can master a particular career path. In this weighty specialization course from the University of Minnesota, you'll learn everything you need to get an understanding of the human resources field. Coursera also provides a unique learning environment with peer-based feedback as well as graded assignments.

Course 1 focuses on how to best come up with your methodology on how to manage employees properly. Course 2 teaches proper hiring and recruiting practices and how best to engage them and retain new employees. Course 3 goes over how to make your employees the best they can be via performance management. Course 4 involves aspects of paying one's employees and other niche aspects of employee compensation.

The fifth course is what is known as a capstone course involving a real-world project that allows each student to apply what they've learned in the previous modules, such as their own workplace.

Verdict

This is the gold standard as far as HR courses on this list. You’ll get five complete courses in one educational track. If you are interested in getting a full view of what human resources is composed of, this is the course on this list to sign up for.

One thing to note is that it will take at least 6 months of your time to complete this track, so make sure you have the time to invest. If you’re unsure and just want a taste of what HR has to offer, you might want to try this briefer introductory course before committing.

Pros

  • Full HR track, not merely just one course
  • Six different professors on a wide variety of topics
  • Provided via an established university
  • Peer-based feedback and graded assignments

Cons

  • The specialization can take up to several months to complete


2. Human Resources Foundations

  • 47min First month free Our rating  
  • Course Highlights
  • Focus: HR Survey Course
  • Teacher: Wayne Cascio
  • Perfect for getting a taste of what HR is about

Why we like it

If you’re looking for a quick and easy overview of HR, then you can’t go wrong with this LinkedIn Learning course.

What You'll Learn

In this course, Wayne Cascio from the University of Colorado gives a tight while, at the same time, a broad overview of the practice of human resources and why it is crucial in modern business.

In the duration of this course, he will go over the basics of established HR roles such as interviewing as well as attracting potential hires along with defining pay grades as well as methodology when it comes to training in the workplace. Wayne also will go into some detail at the end of the course on HR's role on a global scale and how this can benefit all organizations in a rapidly changing world.

One of the biggest benefits of this course is that it provides each user a certain amount of CPE credit (Continuing Professional Education). This credit can be used with the National Association of State Boards of Accountancy (NASBA), the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), and the HR Certification Institute (HRCI). Needless to say, this course is quite versatile when it comes to online certification in human resources.

This course is free if you subscribe to LinkedIn Learning today. As short as this course is (about 45 minutes total) it's more than doable to take this course completely free of charge, as LinkedIn Learning has a very ample 1-month free trial.

Verdict

The strength of this course might end up being one of its biggest downsides. This is an extremely short course. If you're looking for more depth, it's probably best to look elsewhere, such as the number one pick of our list. However, if you're looking for the basics of HR in a bite-sized course, this is the pick for you.

Pros

  • Great overview of human resources
  • Comes with a CPE credit
  • Versatile with a lot of HR-related professional certifications

Cons

  • Short running time


3. Recruiting Foundations

  • 2hr 24min First month free Our rating  
  • Course Highlights
  • Focus: HR Recruiting Techniques
  • Teacher: Barbara Bruno
  • Handy deep dive into recruiting

Why we like it

If you are looking for a crash course in how to find the best talent for your organization, this is a good place to start.

What You'll Learn

One of the more demanding aspects of human resources management is finding the right kinds of employees for the job positions that are open in the company you work for. In this course, Barbara Bruno will help you to understand the various ways you can properly staff your company and make the process as stress-free as possible.

Barbara thinks that one well-placed hire can potentially change the entire focus and direction of a company or organization. People matter, and human resources professionals know that smart, dynamic individuals are the movers and shakers that a company of any kind needs to get to the next level.

One of the best things about this course was the focus on the negotiation and closing aspects of the hiring process. Barbara thinks that this is a crucial step towards attaining the very best talent for the position being offered, as it showcases a high level of communication skills that can sometimes be missing in organizational communication.

This course comes with a CPE credit that is compatible with select certification sources. These are the National Association of State Boards of Accountancy (NASBA), the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), and the HR Certification Institute.

Verdict

It's hard to truly find fault with this course. There is a fairly long-running time here for such a niche (yet important) aspect of the human resources process. However, you'll certainly be getting the most bang for your buck. And when you take advantage of LinkedIn Learning's one-month free offer, the buck certainly goes far here.

Pros

  • Professor has 25 years of experience and has hired thousands of employees
  • Detail on how best to negotiate and make a successful hiring close
  • Comes with CPE credit

Cons

  • The course might be too long for some, even though the subject matter warrants it


4. Interview Training for Hiring Managers and Teams

  • 52 min Free Our rating  
  • Course Highlights
  • Focus: Interview Training
  • Teacher: Elizabeth Shober
  • Expert-led overview of interviewing

Why we like it

Learn everything you need to know in order to be a more effective hiring manager in this short but sweet free course provided by the Udemy Learning Team.

What You'll Learn

As we've mentioned before, the hiring process can be a stressful and tiring one. This is the case not only for the interviewee but also for the person conducting the actual interview. If you're an HR professional that interviews candidates on a regular basis, it doesn't hurt to have some extra knowledge on the matter. This can be crucial when it comes to parsing through the very best candidates attracted to your place of business.

In this course, Elizabeth Shober, who is the head of recruiting at Udemy, teaches you the very basics of the interviewing process. She will go over the seven steps of the hiring process itself, how to negate unconscious bias, and some before and after interview preparation tips. This seven-step focus is a great way of orienting people that might be new to conducting interviews. It provides a simple outline that can be modified according to the needs of your company or organization.

One of the things we liked about this course is how she stresses that it is important to leave a favorable impression of your company on the person being interviewed, even if they don't qualify for the position. Elizabeth also goes over certain legal issues relating to interviews, such as questions you are legally not able to ask no matter what. This sort of information is invaluable to know as an HR professional.

Verdict

This is a short and to-the-point course that will go over the very basics of the interviewing process for HR hiring managers. More visuals would perhaps be helpful, but overall this is a solid course on interviewing skills. It also happens to be 100% free, and there's no need for a trial period or anything else beyond a free membership with Udemy.com. That said, it’s not very exhaustive, so you may want to complement it with another course on the same topic.

Pros

  • Short running time
  • 100% free to own
  • Video examples of different kinds of interviews provided

Cons

  • More visuals would be helpful


5. Diversity, Inclusion and Belonging

  • 43 min Free Our rating  
  • Course Highlights
  • Focus: Diversity in HR
  • Teacher: Pat Wadors
  • Uniquely specialized guide to an increasingly important subject

Why we like it

Diversity in the workplace is a key element of HR in the modern world. If you want a crash course on the subject, this is your ticket.

What You'll Learn

In the modern workplace, diversity is key for several reasons. In this course, you're going to learn a foolproof way of determining if your diversity strategy is optimal for your company or organization.

Pat Wadors DIBs (Diversity, Inclusion, Belonging) methodology asserts that diversity isn't a policy or program but more of a matter of the heart and what it means to be human. Also, diversity just makes sense. It brings about a more unique and multi-talented workplace that can solve problems that come up in new and groundbreaking ways.

It's the first part of her 3-step plan. The next is inclusion, which is a strategy that invites these individuals of diverse backgrounds to your company. Finally, the last part involves the belonging stage. This is when the new hire feels like they truly belong to your company and their associated culture that comes with it.

Another key thing Pat shows you in this course is how branding and storytelling can help to create a specific identity for your organization. This is doubly important if you are trying to attract these diverse hires to work for your company specifically. This was probably one of the most interesting things we got from this particular course, and its inclusion made it stand out.

Another great thing that this course offers is two Continuing Education Units (CEUs) for the National Association of State Boards of Accountancy (NASBA) and the Project Management Institute (PMI). This versatility alone makes this course a top choice for you to consider as an HR professional.

Verdict

The only downside we found with this course is its short running time. Diversity practices are extremely important to a company culture's overall health, and we think that a more in-depth course might be a better solution in the long run. However, what's on display here is a fantastic introduction to the discipline and well worth your time. And it also helps that this course is completely free via LinkedIn Learning!

Pros

  • Great introduction to diversity training
  • Short, sweet, and to the point
  • A unique slant on how storytelling and company culture can make a difference

Cons

  • It’s a short course that could benefit from more depth


6. Interviewing Techniques

  • 1hr 17min First month free Our rating  
  • Course Highlights
  • Focus: Interviewing Prospective Hires
  • Teacher: Barbara Bruno
  • Technical guide to interviewing

Why we like it

The interviewing process can be painful for all parties involved, but it doesn’t have to be. Let HR expert Barbara Bruno show you the best techniques in order to expedite what is normally a long process.

What You'll Learn

The interviewing process is painful for most individuals, but have you ever considered how tough it can be for people giving the interview? In this course, Barbara Bruno instructs you on the best and most common interviewing techniques of the modern era.

Barbara stresses that in order to get the best candidates for your company, you have to excite them once you've gotten them interested in potentially joining your team. If you're not doing this on a regular basis, perhaps it's time to consider your actual interviewing process and how it may need some fine-tuning.

Barbara will show you how to properly screen candidates for the interview process in a way that dispenses personal bias. This course is all about making sure that neither party wastes time nor energy on the interviewing process, which we all know can be stressful for many individuals no matter their preparedness level.

She'll also give tips on how to make the interviewee's experience more positive; that way even if they don't come out to be a great fit they will still tell others about how great of an experience it was to be interviewed by your company. We thought that this unique aspect of HR branding was one of the best things to come out of this course.

Verdict

This is a fantastic course, and it would pair well with Barbara’s course on recruiting listed above. The only real downside is that there’s no CPE credit provided for this course.

Still, don’t let that dissuade you from the gold mine of information present here, especially if you are a professional that frequently interviews new candidates on a regular basis.

Pros

  • Short and to-the-point course on the interview process
  • Instructs you on how to maximize the impact of your interviews
  • Tips on how to expedite the interview process smoothly, benefiting both parties involved

Cons

  • No CPE credit provided


7. Managing Human Resources in the Hospitality and Tourism Industry

  • 8 weeks Free, $198 for a certificate Our rating  
  • Course Highlights
  • Focus: HR in Tourism and Hospitality Industries
  • Teacher: Alice Hon, Bruce Tracey, Chris Roberts, Tom Baum
  • Essential deep-dive for anyone in this niche

Why we like it

Learn how to properly practice HR for the tourism industry in this excellent course provided by The Hong Kong Polytechnic University.

What You'll Learn

It could be argued that human resources in the hospitality industry are, in some ways, even more important to focus on than in others. Hotels and restaurants require impeccable customer service and attention to detail from their employees. The reputation of your business is crucial to keeping a dedicated customer base coming back time and time again.

In this course, associate professor of the School of Hotel and Tourism Management from The Hong Kong Polytechnic University will guide you through the intricacies of the modern-day hospitality industry and its respective HR practices. There's a great deal here on making sure that these practices are applicable on a global level, which is crucial in this day and age due to how connected we are in the modern world.

You'll learn many different things, such as the cultural implications of HR in the tourism industry, the importance of expatriates in the hospitality sector, and how to spot problems before they can manifest into serious issues.

One of the best things we got from this course is instruction on how to study and parse information gleaned from HR academic journals in order to apply the most up-to-date practices in the industry.

Verdict

The only real downside to this course is that the instructor sometimes goes over concepts too quickly to be understood, this is not such an issue as the entire course is closed-captioned for your convenience and can be paused, rewound, and replayed. Overall, if you work in hotel or restaurant HR and want to add to your knowledge base, this is the course for you.

Pros

  • Detailed instruction on the HR aspect of the global hospitality and tourism industry
  • Instructions on how to use up-to-date practices via HR academic journals
  • Niche-focused, which means more detail than other courses

Cons

  • The instructor can be difficult to understand at times


8. Crash Course in HRM

  • 45 min Free Our rating  
  • Course Highlights
  • Focus: Human resources survey course
  • Teacher: Shrikant Mulik
  • Great survey of all aspects of HR

Why we like it

This short course is a great, completely free course on the five main functions of HR.

What You'll Learn

In this course, you're going to learn the five main functions of HR departments in an accelerated way. Shrikant Mulik has a rich background in business on a professional level and has also taught hundreds of MBA-level students the complexities of the business world. He's designed this course in such a way so that the complete newbie can learn about what a professional does in the field on a daily basis.

He goes over five of the main components of HR and briefly discusses what they each entail. These include introducing potential new hires to a company (i.e. advertising your company) and recruiting prospective workers to your place of business. After you've snagged their interest, Shrikant goes into the interviewing and selection process and how to parse through the best talent that comes your way. Finally, he ends the course with a small bit on why performance evaluations and continuing education and training are so crucial in the workplace.

This is primarily a survey-level course, and it's a great start for individuals who are considering HR as far as a career is concerned. This is a downside when it comes to overall course content, however. It is so fast-paced that it doesn't leave a lot of room for detail in the long run.

Verdict

This is a fine introduction to HR. However, it does have a flaw in that there’s not a lot of depth considering how many different subjects are covered. It’s really more of an introduction to get a grasp on the entire field, and is best supplemented by a self-guided exploration of whichever concepts are most important to you.

Pros

  • Survey-level course
  • Goes over the five main functions of HR
  • Lasts just under an hour

Cons

  • Not a lot of detail due to the short running time


9. Alison Diploma in Human Resources

  • 10 weeks Free Our rating  
  • Course Highlights
  • Focus: Survey of human resources
  • Teacher: Advance Learning
  • Handy self-guided resource to every aspect of HR

Why we like it

Work at your own pace with this completely free survey course on HR from Alison.com.

What You’ll Learn

This is an introductory course on HR that is just the facts and not much more. Alison is an older platform and is mostly focused on text-based learning and not much else. If you enjoy reading through a course slowly and drinking in lessons in bite-sized chunks, this is the course for you. If you just want to get a decent overview of what HR is all about, and you're not worried about other perks such as additional credits or certifications, this may also be a good choice for your needs.

By the end of this course, you should be able to identify what a human resources professional does. You should understand almost every step of the recruitment, hiring, and training process as well. The course also goes over the firing of employees and other disciplinary issues faced in the field. This is always a tough sport for a lot of HR-focused individuals.

There's also some coverage on the importance of culture and diversity practices, but it's not covered to the extent that LinkedIn Learning's free course focuses on.

Verdict

Alison is an older online learning company, dating back to 2007. This is mostly a text-based learning platform, and even the user interface is quite dated. However, it's a free course on the basics of HR, so there's really not too much to complain about.

There's a possibility for a paid certificate at the end of the course, however, it's not really of much use for the individual in terms of accreditation or working towards a new career. That said, it’s still a useful way to explore nearly any aspect of HR.

Pros

  • Around 10 hours of content
  • Very good overview of HR in general
  • Written in small chunks for those who like to take their time with courses

Cons

  • Some students may not like the text-heavy focus
  • Clunky user interface


HR Course FAQ

While it certainly won’t hurt your job chances to have a degree that is strictly HR-focused, it might be an even better idea to have competency in another field. Examples of this are psychology or even education-focused degrees. This can imply that a candidate is better-rounded and might have interesting perspectives that are more “outside of the box” than someone with a stricter educational background in HR. A course that offers a certificate can help, too.

Two of the main providers for HR certification are the Society of Human Resource Management (SHRM) and the HR Certification Institute (HRCI). These groups have their own prerequisites for certification, so it’s best to consult their appropriate websites for more info. There are courses we recommend that provide CPE credits for both of these organizations.

We’d argue first and foremost that you like dealing with people on a regular basis. HR is not a good career fit for shy or introverted individuals. Additionally, we think that you should be up-to-date on the changing nature of communication in one’s society. A good example of this is leveraging social media tech in order to get the best applicants for your company.



Extra Credit: An Extended Look at HR Courses

hr recruiter holding magnifying glass

Here’s a short guide on some of the reasons to consider becoming an HR professional. HR is a much-needed aspect of all kinds of businesses, and it isn’t going anywhere anytime soon. Would it be a good fit for you as a career? Let’s find out!

Why Work in HR?

The people we all work with daily are all considered to be assets as far as an organization or company is concerned. They add to the value of a business, and finding quality employees is not a small matter in the least. Here are a few reasons why an individual might want to study human resources as a career choice.

Working With Others

It’s safe to say that you have to be fairly adept when it comes to working with other employees in almost every business out there. In the case of human resources, however, it’s your main job. Some individuals are naturally more affable with other human beings. These sorts of people will make the very best HR professionals. Introverted people had best stay away from this career path, however. You’re almost always going to have to deal with others on an interpersonal level every day.

Every Day Is Different

This might be positive or negative, depending on how you look at it. One of the biggest things you will deal with as an HR professional is a slew of various issues per day. If you are someone that can display large amounts of patience in stressful situations while at the same time, providing quick solutions to potentially complex problems, this might be your field of choice.

Something else that is necessary for this field is sharp communication skills. You’re going to be dealing with many different kinds of people with vastly different value systems, backgrounds, and advantages as well as disadvantages due to their life path. Being able to navigate around these issues accordingly while respecting the individual and their perspectives at the same time is a challenge for anyone’s communication skills, no matter how sharp.

Needless to say, if you’re someone that gets bored easily and you live by the mantra “variety is the spice of life” then human resources is going to be a very exciting field for you to pursue.

Lucrative Compensation

Human resources is a stress-filled profession more often than not, but it pays in dividends (sometimes quite literally). Human resources professionals of all kinds will usually be compensated quite well when it comes to personal salaries. For a better idea of what to expect, here’s a recent article on some of the salary estimates of various aspects of the HR field courtesy of Rasmussen University.

The Challenges of a Career in HR

Like any other career, human resources can come with its own unique challenges that can test the individual at times. Here are a few things to know before considering a career in HR.

Office Politics

The complexities of an office environment are manifold, and the human resources professional has to be able to dance around them with ease. Managers can be just as sneaky and cutthroat about things as lower-ranking individuals in a corporation.

As an HR manager, you have to be able to see through what’s illusory and what’s not, and  make ethical decisions at the same time. The stress of being in extremely competitive work environments like this might not be to the liking of some individuals, whereas others will thrive in such dynamic work environments.

You Are the Negotiator

There is a possibility you might be summoned as an impartial observer and negotiator when it comes to heavy topics between management and regular employees. You are most certainly not going to be able to be friends with both in these cases, so it’s good to cultivate a thick skin and do what is necessary for these tricky scenarios. If you can’t handle stress like that, it’s probably a good idea to choose another profession entirely.

The Nature of Working With People, Not Just Ideas

It’s easy to intellectualize high-minded concepts such as absolute ethical thinking and standardized procedures on how to handle things. However, it’s worth noting that people are complex. Not everyone that makes a mistake needs to be immediately fired. Accidents and misunderstandings happen. To err is human, as they say.

As an HR professional, you have to be diligent in keeping up standards while, at the same time, exercising caution when it comes to punishing human infallibility in too strong of a manner.

The Path of People Management

hr tangram puzzle blocks

There are a lot of great quality courses that pertain to human resources out there. If you’re looking for an introduction to this fairly complex aspect of modern business, then perhaps consider looking into one of the courses covered in our list.

Not only will you learn a thing or two or hone your skillset a bit more, but you might even find a career that interests you and changes your life in the long run. Since the cost is free, the only thing that you have to provide is your time. We think that’s a pretty solid deal, no matter what.

Until next time, sharpen those people skills and become the best interpersonal communicator that you can be!