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Average HR professional’s student debt ‘takes almost 28 years to pay off’

27 Sep 2017 By Marianne Calnan

But workers reminded ‘starting from the bottom’ can prove dedication to the sector

Bright-eyed and bushy-tailed graduates entering the HR profession will need to work for almost 28 years to pay off their average student debt of £47,929, research has found.

The analysis by MyVoucherCodes revealed that with an average starting salary of £25,500, those university leavers bagging a job in HR would need to toil away for 27 years and 10 months – and pay back £26,613 in interest – to repay their student loan.

However, experts pointed to the growing availability of non-degree qualifications for entrants to the HR profession, allowing them to dodge the mountain of debt.

Hannah Salton, career coach and graduate recruitment specialist at Seven Career Coaching, said that, following April’s introduction of the apprenticeship levy, there would likely be an “increase in HR apprenticeships over the coming years”. A higher apprenticeship in HR was introduced by the CIPD in 2014.

Meanwhile, Lee Biggins, founder and managing director of CV-Library, told People Management that experience and on-the-job learning were also valuable for building a strong career in the industry.

Biggins said “starting from the bottom” of the HR career ladder and climbing up proved dedication to the sector: “Starting your experience as early as possible, even if this is just shadowing an HR professional for a week or two, can help you stand out in this competitive industry.”

Those concerned their career – and their pay packet – is not progressing fast enough should “take a step back” and rethink their career path, said Salton: “People have very varied careers these days and there are often more options than you think, if you invest the time in looking into different paths and options.”

Biggins said job hunters should be on the lookout for businesses that placed importance on staff development, and work with their employer to build their career. “Outlining your career goals from the start will allow employers to understand how you hope your career will progress,” he said. “This also means that should you worry about how you are doing, you can approach your employer for help in taking the next step.”

David D’Souza, head of branch engagement at the CIPD, agreed that HR professionals should continually invest time in their development and strive to manage their career effectively. “Once you have the right skills and experience, learn how to network effectively – for learning and connections – and also to understand the opportunities in the market,” he said.

But although HR professionals may spend almost three decades with student debt, they’re not unhappy. According to research by job search engine Adzuna, which was reported by ITV News, HR is among the top five happiest professions in the UK.

Other career paths to make the top five were consultancy, trade and construction, PR and marketing, and energy, oil and gas. The five least happy professions in the UK were found to be retail, teaching, charity, social work and property.

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