Is Human Resources a good major? Talent is the paramount resource for every organization and corporation in today’s economy.
Human resources professionals hold the key to mining, maintaining, and retaining that resource. In return, they often earn between $40,000 and $120,000 (Bureau of Labor Statistics).
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Courses for a Human Resources Degree
The goal of a traditional or online human resources degree is to form well-rounded, equipped graduates who are capable of handling employment, labor, and compensation matters with decorum, integrity, and strong interpersonal skills.
One of the interesting things about this field is that professionals are often asked to wear their “legal” hats, “negotiator” hats, “trainer” hats, and “advocate” hats while technically filling just one role. The coursework that goes into receiving a human resources degree reflects this.
Here’s a look at some standard courses for a human resources program:
- Employment Law provides an overview of the laws and standards that must be complied with at every step of engaging with employees.
- Human Resource Management covers the duties associated with managing a workforce to create a thriving company culture.
- Union Relations dives into the unique policies in play when dealing with unionized employees.
- Recruitment and Staffing trains students in the ways of sourcing, recruiting, and retaining talent.
- Training and Development prepares future human resources leaders to cultivate a trained, educated workforce in today’s skills-based economy.
- Conflict Resolution covers how to mediate, deescalate, and properly address workplace conflicts.
- Privacy, Confidentiality, and Ethics is designed to prepare professionals to handle sensitive information.
- Writing is often used as part of a human resources program because professionals are frequently tasked with drafting internal written communications.
- Compensation and Benefits Systems provides an overview of how companies and enterprises organize compensation scales and manage employee benefits.
A program that covers these topics can help prepare a future human resources leader to handle all aspects of managing an organization’s workforce.
Is Human Resources a Good Career?
Human resources is a field that allows you to put your natural interpersonal skills, knack for organization, and desire to be a part of big things to work.
The obvious benefit of getting into human resources today is that professionals with human resources degrees and credentials have never been in higher demand. Human resources managers are employed in just about every industry.
Another perk of studying human resources is that there’s actually a lot of range to what you can do with your degree. Plus, a majority of universities offer online accelerated human resources degrees that allow students to graduate quicker than the average student.
Some people are interested in compliance and organizational management. Others love the idea of hiring and nurturing talent within an organization.
- Competitive compensation
- Lots of stability and job prospects
- Strong potential to be promoted within a human resource’s department
- Traditional work hours are the norm
- More flexibility to fulfill the same role in different industries than is typical
- The ability to travel to attend conferences and seminars
- You will often be dealing with internal conflict within an organization
- Dealing with laws and compliance can create high-stress, high-stakes scenarios
- A lot of time “at the desk” dealing with paperwork and procedures
There’s not a big downside to majoring in human resources in today’s economy. Of course, someone who isn’t a big fan of being a part of a system may feel constrained by working in the field of human resources.
What Human Resources Jobs Are Available?
Human resources professionals work at universities, hospitals, television networks, local governments, state governments, consumer brands, movie studios, airlines, and hospitality brands. The career possibilities with a human resources degree are endless.
Someone who simply has an interest in starting a career in a support role can work as a human resources generalist. A human resources generalist typically covers tasks that support roles and projects within specific parts of a human resources department.
This position is often a good launching point for getting into a more specific role within an organization.
A human resources specialist is someone who works within a very narrow subset of overall workforce relations. This can be something like a benefits manager or labor expert.
A recruitment specialist or talent-acquisition manager finds and recruits the workers who are the best fits for an organization. The process of filling just one position could take months of seeking out applicants, vetting applicants, interviewing applicants, and negotiating new contracts.
Someone who focuses on education and training is often the default “professor” within an organization. The primary focus of this position is organizing and instructing courses related to skills, training, and internal policies. You may also be in charge of conducting mandated training for safety or fair work environments.
It is also very likely that you may transition into an upper-level management role after beginning your career. A role as a human resources manager, vice president of human resources, or chief human resources officer could be in your future. These roles often involve coordinating with other executives for high-level decision making.
What Is the Range for Human Resources Salary?
Human resources professionals are usually highly compensated. After all, corporations know they can’t exactly underpay the professionals who know about pay scales better than just about anyone else!
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics places the median annual pay for human resources managers at around $116,720. It’s not uncommon to make a six-figure income once you enter a management position in the field of human resources.
Here’s a look at average salary expectations for some common human resources titles:
- Compensation and Benefits Manager: $122,270
- Training and Development Manager: $113,350
- General Human Resources Manager: $116,720
- Labor Relations Specialist: $69,020
- Compensation and Benefits Specialist: $64,560
- Training and Development Specialist: $61,210
- Human Resources Specialist: $61,920
- Human Resources Assistant: $41,430
Keep in mind that human resources professionals working at larger corporations often receive annual bonuses. Additionally, some companies actually offer commissions based on new hires for those in hiring or recruitment roles.
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Human Resources Certification
Part of excelling in a career in human resources is demonstrating your commitment to lifelong learning. Human resources professionals need to keep up with changing employment trends, hiring laws, benefits rules, and labor laws.
Obtaining special human resources certifications can strengthen your résumé, increase earning potential, increase eligibility for promotions, make you more valuable to your employer, and build personal satisfaction.
The HR Certification Institute offers the following certifications:
- Associate Professional in Human Resources™ (aPHR)
- Associate Professional in Human Resources—International™ (aPHRi)
- Professional in Human Resources® (PHR)
- Professional in Human Resources—California® (PHRca)
- Professional in Human Resources—International™ (PHRi)
- Senior Professional in Human Resources® (SPHR)
- Senior Professional in Human Resources—International™ (SPHRi)
- Global Professional in Human Resources® (GPHR)
Each distinguished HRCI certification can demonstrate the competency necessary for professionals with specific career focuses.
Professional Organizations for Those in HR
It’s not surprising that a field that is so geared toward a “people” person has some of the most active organizations around.
Professional organizations provide great resources for networking and skills sharpening. This is the way to stay “in the loop” in your industry. Here’s a look at the top organizations for human resources professionals:
- The Academy of Human Resource Development is a global organization that represents the scholarly arm of the world’s human resources community.
- The HR Certification Institute provides industry-recognized certifications for professional development.
- The International Public Management Association for Human Resources offers news, resources, and development opportunities as the world’s leading public-sector human resource organization.
- The National Human Resources Association is a volunteer-based organization that offers networking and career opportunities for HR professionals.
- The Society for Human Resource Management focuses on education, certification, and networking and political lobbying.
Joining several professional groups opens up diverse doors for networking and learning more about your profession. The big benefit of belonging to an organization is that you will be invited to conferences and events.
Accreditation for an Online Human Resources Degree
You’re probably going to bump into mention of regional accreditation as you explore your options for obtaining a human resources degree. While not necessary, graduating from a program with specialized accreditation can serve you well as a human resources professional.
Many human resources professionals decide to pursue advanced degrees after obtaining bachelor’s degrees to ramp up career trajectory. Graduating from a regionally accredited undergraduate program generally makes it easier to transfer credits and get accepted into M.S. programs.
Some employers won’t even recognize a degree without regional accreditation.
Financial Aid for a Bachelor’s in HR
There are many ways to finance your degree, whether it’s an online associates degree in human resources or an on-campus bachelors. The big thing to remember is that the full tuition costs that you see when reviewing programs are almost never representative of what students actually pay.
Federal grants, federal loans, federal work-study programs, state-level aid, institutional aid, and private financing can all be used to handle the costs of obtaining a bachelor’s degree in human resources. Don’t forget that employers will sometimes fund all or a portion of a degree program.
You can also find unique scholarship opportunities for students pursuing degrees in human resources. The Society for Human Resource Management Foundation actually offers about 14 different scholarships to undergraduate and graduate students ranging from $5,000 to $200.
HR Payroll Systems awards one student pursuing a bachelor’s or master’s degree a scholarship worth $1,000 each year.
Questions Related to Earning a Human Resources Degree Online
Let’s talk about the questions that almost every person has before enrolling in a human resources degree program.
What Should I Major in to Be in Human Resources?
A human resources degree is the direct path to a career in human resources. Some students choose to add a minor in business or communications to be more appealing to employers in the business world.
You could also major in Business Administration with a concentration in Human Resources.
Is Human Resources an Easy Major?
Some people consider it an easy major compared to more math and science-intensive field. But this degree path will force you to hone your problem-solving abilities and develop strategies for dealing with both information and people.
Also, some Human Resources majors actually choose high-level business courses or statistics classes because learned skills can transfer over quite relevantly when it comes to handling things like compensation scales or benefits.
Do Human Resources Jobs Pay Well?
Yes, Human Resources jobs usually pay well, often ranging from $40,000 to $120,000 (Bureau of Labor Statistics). It is not uncommon to earn six figures at the mid-career point if you are on a specialized or management-oriented track within a company.
Becoming a high-level human resources manager, director, or vice president means that the sky really is the limit in terms of perks, compensation, and benefits.
Is Human Resources a Good Major?
Yes, Human Resources is a good major for many students. The Bureau of Labor Statistics is projecting 5% job growth in management occupations over the next 10 years. Common careers in this field include human resources assistant, training and development specialist, labor relations specialist, human resources manager, and compensation and benefits manager.
HR is a highly relevant, highly applicable major for today’s graduates. It is a major to consider if you are focused on earning a good living with room for growth in your career.