19 Free HR Courses To Advance Your Career Now

If you’re looking for free online classes on human resources then this is your resource. A friend of mine knows that I take online courses and review them and they happen to work in human resources. Since I’ve been knee deep in all the big online course platforms, I’m writing this article today for her and also for you.

While I am personally not looking for work in HR, I have had the displeasure of hiring and firing hundreds of people in my life, so I know first hand the joys, struggles, and difficult conversations you’re forced to have while working in human resources.

My List of Free HR Courses

Okay, enough small talk. I know why you clicked this article, you’re here for free human resource courses, so lets get down to business.

Free HR Courses From FutureLearn

You can view all of FutureLearn’s HR Courses & Degrees here [ futurelearn.com] or browse the two courses that seemed most relevant to me in this handy table:

Free Course Description Does It Come With Certification? Expiration
HR Fundamentals [ futurelearn.com] This is a 5 week course instructed by David D’Souza, who spent 15 years working in HR.

Since the course is free, I went ahead and took the entire thing in one long sitting (not recommended.) As the name of the course implies, this is a HR 101, but it’s also up-to-date and includes a section dedicated to the role of HR during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Even though I’ve worked in HR, there were many perspectives and ideas I had not previously encountered. I think this is a good course for anyone looking for “best practices” for HR and since it is free, you can just try it for yourself and see if it’s valuable to you.

Yes, but you have to pay for the Certification Indefinite
People Management Skills [ futurelearn.com] This is an HR course, but it is intended for small and medium-sized businesses where managers have to take up HR duties due to a lack of a fully dedicated human resources staff or department.

I enrolled in this course, but it doesn’t start for a few weeks so I can’t review it. However, from what I gather this is geared at aspiring or untrained managers and how they can best deal with hiring, managing and reviewing their employees.

Yes, but you have to pay for the Certification Indefinite

Free HR Courses From Alison

The biggest drawback with Alison is that you’re going to be viewing ads during the course unless you upgrade (or use ad blocking.) However, if you do upgrade, you also can get certificates for completing these courses. I did enroll and take portions of each of these courses to make sure they were worth the time. I actually don’t recommend most of the HR courses on Alison, because most are very low quality.

If you don’t believe me, you can view all of Alison’s free HR courses here [ alison.com] or check out the only Alison HR course that I found to be high quality enough to bother with:

Free Course Description Does It Come With Certification? Expiration
Modern Human Resource Management – Recruitment & Selection Process [ alison.com] This is a well written guide on how to develop a long term strategy for hiring and scaling up and down your employee count as your business needs change.

I did take this course, with my main criticism being that at times it would go too deep into some theoretical concepts with diagrams and explanations that seemed unnecessary to teach the point.

I do think developing a long term recruitment strategy is a good idea, and this course may be the first step towards achieving that in your career.

Yes, but you have to pay for the Certification Indefinite

BernieU: A Free Online Platform Dedicated to HR

Before covering the bigger online learning websites, I want to talk about a dedicated HR learning platform called BernieU. I am not affiliated with them or sponsored by them in any way, but I did enroll in several of their free HR courses and they are fantastic.

However, before I tell you about those courses, there is one thing about BernieU which I didn’t like, which I’ll cover now. Their primary business is developing and selling their own HR software. Their free HR courses are there to drive traffic and raise awareness about their software, which was clearly the motivation they had when developing these courses… however, after watching several of their classes, I was surprised to find that they did not push their software very often.

Right now, they have 6 free HR courses. You can browse their free HR courses by clicking here [ bernieportal.com]

More Free Human Resources Online Courses

There are quite a few online learning platforms that only have one or two good HR resources, so I put them here. If I would’ve known just how low quality most of those Alison courses were, I wouldn’t have taken the time to create a section for it, but would’ve put the one Alison course here as well. Oh well!

Free Course Description Does It Come With Certification? Expiration
5 Free Courses: Human Resource Management Specialization [ coursera.org] This is a series of 5 courses from the University of Minnesota that walks you through all aspects of human resources.

While you cannot take the “Specialization” for free, you can enroll in each of the 5 courses individually for free. Simply open the individual course page, click the “Enroll for Free” button and then click the “Audit the single course” link to take the course for free.

This course is recommended to be completed in 6 months, but if you have the time, you can easily pass each course in a sitting or two. You will not get a certificate or access to the full Coursera experience for free, but if you’re only intention is to learn then you don’t need to purchase anything.

Yes, but you have to pay for the Certification Indefinite
The Manager’s Toolkit: A Practical Guide to Managing People at Work [ coursera.org] I enrolled in this one, but I’ll be honest, there is no way I am making it through the entire 6 week course.

The course is provided by the University of London and while it is not HR focused, it is very much dedicated to the art and science of effective management.

I made it far enough into the course to see first-hand that this is jam-packed with useful observations, techniques and advice on how to effectively manage people in the workplace, which is why I bumped up near the top of this list.

Yes, but you have to pay for the Certification Indefinite
Human Resources Management (Short Course) [ elearningcollege.com] This was a confusing one to enroll in, because after I registered, clicking the “Start Your Free Course Now” button would just ask me to re-register… while I was clearly still logged in! So instead, I had to go into My Account > My Courses > click the Enroll for Another Course button and then scroll to Human Resources Management (Short Course) and click Enroll Now. This worked.

However, I was a bit let down when the “course” turned out to be a 29 page PDF file. However, after reading the PDF, I have to say that it is a very good foundational short book on HR that covers all the foundational level concepts required to begin working in the field.

No Indefinite
What is strategic human resource management? [ open.edu] This is an advanced HR course with substance that explores the complexity of developing effective HR planning and how that relates and differs from normal business planning. The course has several interactive activities and does a great job with it’s organization, figures and lesson structure. If you’ve already been working in an HR position, this is probably the best course in this article for you. Yes, free “Statement of Participation” for competing courses. Indefinite
Human resources: recruitment and selection [ open.edu] I actually like the Alison recruitment course a little better than this one, but a lot of that had to do with presentation. This course has giant paragraphs of text, while the Alison course did a better job of breaking up it’s content into digestible pieces. This course is actually pretty short and to the point. Again, the only criticism I have is that the paragraphs were often far too long for comfort. Yes, free “Statement of Participation” for competing courses. Indefinite
Small Business Employee Recruitment and Retention [ sba.gov] I tried this free course and it felt like I was watching a new employee orientation for the role of hiring new employees. That is because this course is presented with a professional audio narration while a PowerPoint style slideshow plays in front of you. This is all basic hiring stuff, so probably not relevant to anyone with practical hiring experience. No Indefinite

Take Paid HR Courses For Free

I have been taking a massive amount of online courses from literally most of the online platforms I discover. With this pool of experience, I have grown very fond of “subscription-based” learning platforms compared to the “buy a course one at a time” business model.

To that end, you can get a free month of Skillshare and take these two courses for free (just cancel before your free trial expires.) I didn’t watch the entirety of these courses, but I did watch a most of the lessons from each course on 2X speed to see if they were good or not:

  • World-Class HR : People and Human Resource Management Essentials [ skillshare.com] – Lesson 5 was pretty interesting, discussing Theory X and an employees motivation to work. While the audio levels between lessons were sometimes startling, and the instructor seemed to be clipping the mic in a few entire lessons, the rest of the production value was good with clear narration, easy to look at cartoon animations and some interesting theories and observations on human resources being discussed the whole time. I recommend this course, but keep your volume down.
  • Recruitment & Interviewing Skills – Top Human Resources Guide for Interviewers [ skillshare.com] – While you will spend the majority of time watching this guy talk in front of his webcam, he does provide a lot of tables, charts and other relevant information about how to find and hire the right candidate for a position. I downloaded the attached PowerPoint file and was impressed with the interview table he provides, which gives you a nice way to rate and contrast your pool of applicants. The “systematic interview” process he teaches was new and intriguing for me. I intended to rush through this course but I ended up staying nearly to the end… partly because this course has useful information about interviews for job seekers as well.

Concluding Thoughts

One of the best things about taking online courses, is that there are so many options to choose from. This high level of competition means that many quality platforms provide free online courses on a variety of subjects, including human resources.

I hope you enjoyed my research into the best free courses on HR. If you found anything I missed or have any questions or comments, please let me know in the comments below. Please share this post on Pinterest, Reddit or your favorite social media platform. Thanks for reading and happy learning!


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