What Is Human Capital Management? A Career Guide

Written by Coursera Staff • Updated on

Discover human capital management, the role of a human capital manager, and the steps for entering this field.

[Featured image] A human capital management (HCM) staffer sits at a desk and speaks with another company employee.

Human capital management (HCM) refers to a set of business processes that empower workers, connect workflows, and streamline daily operations within an organization. Human capital management encompasses employee productivity strategies, and the technology HCM teams use to organize data. 

Benefits of human capital management

An HCM team or manager can benefit an organization in several ways, including: 

  • Creating a positive workplace culture

  • Increasing productivity among employees

  • Inspiring more innovation

  • Retaining employees and keeping them engaged 

  • Improving employee morale and satisfaction

  • Managing employee data 

  • Ensuring compliance with laws and regulations

  • Enabling business growth 

  • Saving costs over the long term

Human capital management is becoming increasingly important, especially as many roles are digitized and automated. With more employees working remotely and increased demand for specialized skills and workforce data, HCM teams and managers can offer comprehensive support across an organization and bring out the best in everyone. 


While researching human capital management, you may have come across similar terms like human resource management. Some organizations may use these terms interchangeably, given that there is some overlap between them. Keep these important similarities and differences in mind as you consider career options: 

Human capital managementHuman resource management
Includes traditional HR functions, as well as workforce rewards, training, engagement, handling conflict, and retention.Includes traditional HR functions such as hiring, compliance, reporting, and payroll.
Invests in employees' professional development to ensure they provide economic value to the company.Implements learning management systems to track employee training and results.

Read more: What Is Human Resources And HR Management?

HCM jobs 

There are several common roles in HCM, as explored below:

Human capital manager

According to ZipRecruiter, human capital managers in the US make $77,650 [1]. 

Tasks and responsibilities you might have in this role include: 

  • Providing employees with professional development opportunities 

  • Offering services to employees such as counseling, coaching, and mentoring

  • Creating job descriptions

  • Devising plans to support and train underperforming employees 

  • Recommending solutions to conflicts that arise among employees 

  • Overseeing the company’s benefits program and ensuring employees receive the proper benefits 

  • Providing employees with guidance on company policies and procedures 

Human capital consultant 

According to ZipRecruiter, human capital consultants in the US make an average of $92,874 [2].

Tasks and responsibilities you might have in this role include:

  • Advising organizations on how to improve their culture, leadership, compensation structures, and employee professional development 

  • Analyzing current workforce needs and trends that will determine recruitment strategies

  • Training managers and supervisors on effective leadership strategies

  • Developing strategies to improve employee engagement   

Human capital analyst

According to ZipRecruiter, human capital analysts in the US make an average of $83,973 [3]. 

Tasks and responsibilities you might have in this role include:

  • Analyzing current HCM strategies within an organization

  • Evaluating current market trends and management strategies

  • Helping organizations implement new HCM solutions 

As you gain experience in human capital management, you may find opportunities to fill more advanced positions, such as director of human capital or vice president of human capital. 

Read more: How to Become an HR Consultant: Jobs, Salaries, Courses

How to start your HCM career 

If you are ready to begin this career path, follow the steps below to streamline your process:  

1. Obtain an HR education and experience.

For most HCM positions, you’ll need at least a bachelor’s degree. Degrees in human capital management exist but are less common than degrees in human resources or human resource management. In your job search, you may find that some employers are open to hiring candidates with degrees in other disciplines, such as business or psychology. 

Taking courses or getting a credential in human capital management, such as the SPHR or SHRM, can boost your HR resume and show employers your commitment to a vibrant career in HR. Gaining some entry-level experience in an HR role can introduce you to the latest HR department strategies and the HR needs of today's organizations.

2. Become proficient with human capital management software.

HCM software is sometimes called a human resource information system (HRIS) or human resource management system (HRMS) and is a big part of how HCM teams operate. The software streamlines and simplifies many processes, including payroll, time tracking and attendance, performance management, record keeping, and more. 

Learning how these systems work can help you prepare for an HCM role. Examples of software that you can investigate include: 

  • Dayforce HCM: includes continuous payroll, workforce management, talent intelligence, advanced HR analytics, and benefits intelligence.

  • Oracle Fusion Cloud HCM: includes workforce modeling, strategic workforce planning, HR help desk, benefits, employment, career development, recruiting, performance management, and more.

  • Paychex: includes payroll services, HR tools, time and attendance, retirement, health, and benefits.

  • Workday HCM: includes HR management, payroll, workforce management, talent management, skills cloud, employee experience, help center, case management, and more.

3. Build workplace skills for HR.

In addition to learning the technical skills of human capital management, you’ll also need solid workplace skills. As you take courses and gain experience, be sure to hone your ability to collaborate with others, lead teams, mentor new hires, solve problems, and develop rapport with coworkers.  

When searching for jobs online, be sure to find out which skills employees require for various HR roles. One helpful resource is ZipRecruiter's Career Keyword Mapper, which analyzes thousands of job postings and resumes to identify the skills that are mentioned most often. For example, the top skills appearing on HCM consultant resumes include [4]:

  • Consulting experience

  • Innovation

  • Collaboration

  • HCM

  • HR experience

  • Analysis

  • Technical

  • Data analytics

  • Recruiting

  • Auto-delivery

Having these and other in-demand HCM skills can enable you to perform key HCM functions with success, including: 

  • Hiring the right talent

  • Monitoring performance

  • Offering training and professional development opportunities 

  • Delivering a superior employee experience 

Read more: Resume Keywords: How to Find the Right Words to Beat the ATS

Improve your management skills with Coursera  

Taking online courses can be a great way to build skills related to human capital management and discover career opportunities. Explore the options below:

Article sources


ZipRecruiter. "Human Capital Management Salary, https://www.ziprecruiter.com/Salaries/Human-Capital-Management-Salary." Accessed December 27, 2023.

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