Aspiring to become an HR Executive? Earn a Graduate Degree and Establish a Stay With Your Company

Every HR professional aspires to earn a seat  at the C-Suite table, but how do you get there? Software Advice Analyst, Erin Osterhaus, decided to conduct an in-depth study of 100 top HR executives from some of the largest global organizations to find out if there were any trends in their professional tenures and academic backgrounds. The 100 executives sampled were compiled from HREonline’s list of the highest paid HR executives, HREonline’s list of top HR executives by number of employees, and Fortune’s 100 Best Places to Work in 2013.


In case you’re wondering how you stack up against these 100 HR executives at the top of their field, here’s a summary of Osterhaus’s key findings:


HR Executives Need To Stick It Out:


Software Advice’s research found that HR professionals who land a coveted VP position don’t job hop. More than a third of these HR executives worked for only one or two companies throughout their whole career. Of those that changed companies more often, less than 20 percent of the executives in their study worked for six or more companies throughout their careers.

HR Professionals Need To Put In Their Time:


Osterhaus’s research uncovered that HR professionals angling to become executives need to understand that, in order to reach the top, it takes a great deal of time. Out of the 100 HR executives profiled, only 20 percent reached their first executive HR role within 11 to 15 years of beginning their professional careers. For most HR executives, it took an average of 17 working years to land a corner office.

Undergraduate Backgrounds:


All 100 of the HR Executives profiled achieved at least an undergraduate degree. The most common undergraduate degree was business administration, closely followed by both psychology and economics. It’s worth mentioning, that the results were not limited to these three majors. A number of the HR executives in their data sample pursued degrees in less predictable area of studies like mathematics, history and modern languages.

HR Executives Earn Graduate Degrees:


Osterhaus also found that 60 percent of the HR executives sampled earned a graduate degree. The most popular graduate degree was an MBA, which was followed by a master’s degree and JD.