People often ask me what they can do to get into the HR field. There are a number of directions you can take. I started in training and development and picked up generalist duties as a sideline in small companies that needed both. As I moved up I developed my skills as well as my education.
The most important skill you can develop, though, costs little to nothing. An effective HR Manager or Director must have compassion. Volunteer somewhere-I recommend a homeless shelter, a women's shelter, a rape crisis line, or hospice. You will encounter people struggling with these issues in your career. Understanding a bit about where they are will help you greatly. One of the first things I advise you to do is learn where to locate all of the resources in your community. Call them. Speak with them. Screen the counselors in your EAP (Employee Assistance Program).
People need a lot more than just someone who knows labor law (also a critical skill that I'll be discussing another day).