Is a Human Resources Degree for You?
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Human resources degree holders are often responsible for matters involving the personnel of their companies. When most people think of human resources, they picture the hiring and firing process. But as companies have expanded and become more complex, the duties of human resources workers have expanded. In addition to recruiting employees and terminating inadequate workers, they have become more involved in the general strategic planning of day-to-day operations. The human resources degree focuses on areas such as labor law, labor relations, information systems, strategic staffing, training and development, and communication. Students also learn about pay systems and benefit plans. Employment of human resources specialists is expected to increase 21 percent between 2010 and 2020, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Advice for Earning Your Human Resources Degree Online
Earning your degree online, regardless of your field of choice, requires a commitment. If you plan on being a full-time student, then you will have to treat your workload like it's a full-time job, just as if you were attending a brick-and-mortar college. The course load offered by online colleges doesn't differ from what traditional colleges offer. Human resources degrees from accredited online colleges are usually respected by employers and can prove rewarding to the students who attain them. To see if your prospective online college is accredited, check the U.S. Department of Education's Database of Accredited Postsecondary Institutions and Programs.
Students enroll in courses such as foundations in human resources, organizational behavior and leadership, human resources management, human relations, workforce development, and quantitative and statistical methods for human resources development. Before diving into these human resources classes, students take general courses such as English composition, technology and society, college algebra, and information communication and technology. A minor in a field such as business can supplement the skills of a human resources student.
Common Career Paths
An internship is essential for gaining hands-on experience that can be applied to a career in human resources. Students can find information on potential internships by consulting an adviser or career counselor. Common career paths for human resources students include (but are not limited to):
- Human Resources Manager: Human resources managers are responsible for hiring and motivating employees at businesses, corporations and other organizations. During the hiring process, they advertise for open positions, filter resumes to identify the most viable candidates for the job, and lead those applicants through the interview and hiring process. Once a person is hired, human resources officers explain the company or organization's salary and benefits, provide them with information on their job, provide them with documents such as the employee handbook and have them submit their tax information. Human resource managers also periodically arrange for training for the employees of a company or organization. Alongside these responsibilities, human resources managers work with the management team at a company, contributing to establishing strategic plans for the success of the company and performing other management tasks. Individuals with college degrees and certification will have the best job prospects in human resources, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The median annual salary for human resources specialists was $52,690 in 2010.
- Training Managers and Specialists: The job of a training manager or training specialist requires an individual to be skilled both in interpersonal communication and in corporate and organizational training. They must also have a knack for teaching, as they are responsible for conducting training and development programs for employees. Training managers also help employees adjust to new technology that companies implement. These specialists may put together orientation programs and develop on-the-job training programs. After training managers or specialists conduct training, they are often required to use surveys and tests to measure how much their employee participants learned and to gauge their training effectiveness. The median annual salary for human resources specialists was $52,690 in 2010, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
- Recruitment Specialist: Recruitment specialists are responsible for attracting and retaining qualified employees and key talent in a wide variety of industries. Because they have to actively find certain types of employees, they are frequently on the go, building contacts in the community, attending job fairs and visiting college campuses in hopes of finding good candidates to fill open positions. Like human resources managers, they screen, interview and sometimes test applicants to determine whether they are a good fit for a company or organization. Recruitment specialists often "sell" potential job candidates on their particular company or organization, drawing them in by letting them know about the kind of salary and benefits they will receive, how stimulating the work environment is, and the potential for bonuses and moving up in the company. The median annual salary for human resources specialists was $52,690 in 2010, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.