Skilled human resource managers are one of a company's biggest assets – they are charged with managing the company's existing human capital, and recognizing and hiring top talent. Human resource managers and specialists work closely with potential employees in order to help ensure that a company retains the most qualified and driven employees and that these employees are placed into the most appropriate and productive positions.

To effectively fulfill their many diverse job functions, most human resource managers posses specialized education and experience. Common tasks include recruiting the qualified applicants, interviewing and screening prospective employees, helping to develop their respective talents, acting as intermediary between top-executives and lower-level employees, and successfully training a company's employees

A human resources degree will teach the principles of effective personnel hiring, training, and management.

Where do Human Resources Specialists work?Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

Human Resources Career Opportunities

Related Careers: Human Resource Managers and Specialists

A degree in human resources can prepare you for many different positions in the field. At a smaller company, an HR graduate may work as a human resources manager; recruiting, hiring, managing, and overseeing the whole of the employee pool. Conversely, a human resources manager at a larger company may be employed in a specialized function, like a hiring specialist or the director of human resources, who is actively overseeing several departments and several other HRmanagers.

Human resources managers often specialize in a specific area. They may choose to be a recruitment specialist, a human resources coordinator, or an employee benefits manager. Specialized or not, human resources managers are prepared through their rigorous education to undertake a diverse range of HR responsibilities.

Businesses are the sums of the talented individuals that they employ. Whatever the industry, businesses and organizations rely on HR professionals to retain, find, hire, and train these workers. Because of that career security, the professional field of human resources is expected to grow much faster than average. Those HRgraduates with at least a bachelor's degree will have the most prevalent job opportunities, but overall employment is expected to grow by 22% from 2008-2018. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that there were 904, 900 human resources, training, and labor relations managers and specialists employed in 2008. With the anticipated 22% increase, there will be 197,400 new positions for a 2018 total of 1.1 million positions.

HR professionals are predicted to see a robust 22% occupational growth rate from 2008-2018.Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

Real job opportunities will be better than even that robust 22% growth rate. The Occupational Information Network, or O*NET, a project of the Department of Labor's Employment and Training Administration, predicts that there will be a need for about 650,000 human resources specialists and managers from 2008-2018. This figure includes the occupational growth predicted by the BLS AND existing positions vacated by retirement, early termination, promotion, etc.

Human Resources Earnings

As any good HR professional can tell you, earnings for human resources specialists and managers vary, dependant on education level and experience.

According to the BLS, 2008 median annual wages for HR positions were:

  • $86,500 for compensation and benefits managers
  • $87,700 for training and development managers
  • $96,130 for all other human resources managers
  • $45,470 for employment, recruitment, and placement specialists
  • $53,860 for compensation, benefits, and job analysis specialists
  • $51,450 for training and development specialists
Median earnings for HR professionals vary by job function, and range  from $45,000 to almost $100,000 annually.Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

Human Resources Educational Benefits

For most entry-level human resources positions require at least a bachelor's degree. Most human resources management positions now require master's-level education, often in the form of an MBA. If you are a student with a strong liberal arts or business background, and personnel management experience, you may also qualify for entry-level human resources positions.

A bachelor's degree in human resources will typically take 4 years, depending on a student's full- or part-time status. HR master's degrees generally take between 1 and 2 years.

According to a 2009 National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE) survey, new graduates of HR bachelor's programs received starting offers that averaged $45,170 a year.

According to the Occupational Information Network, 14% of human resources professionals have a high-school diploma or less, 30% of human resources employees have some college education (a post-secondary diploma or associate's degree), while 56% of human resources employees have a college degree (a bachelor's degree) or higher.

56% of HR professionals have a bachelor's degree or higher.Source: Occupational Information Network

Most employers look favorably on candidates who have some experience, whether through an entry-level HR position or through an internship completed in their undergraduate education. Entry-level positions allow the human resources degree holder to gain experience while performing administrative duties under the supervision of more experienced human resources managers. Entry-level workers also typically undergo on-the-job training in order to learn all of the specific duties and responsibilities of human resources managers, including effective interviewing, recruiting and screening techniques.

Because experience is such a large part of a successful human resources career, work-study programs, undergraduate internships and entry-level work help aspiringHR professionals establish themselves and learn from more experienced professionals.

Relevant experience will also be gained through a human resources student's coursework. This coursework is expansive and often interdisciplinary. The courses will span a variety of subjects and will typically include social science courses (like psychology and sociology), business courses, economics, statistics, management courses, and courses which specifically focus on recruitment and training techniques.

Human Resources Programs Online

Degrees Possible: Certificate, Associate's, Bachelor's, Master's and Doctoral Degrees

Human Resource Programs are offered online at all levels, from certificate of completion to doctoral degree. These online programs are especially helpful to already established human resources professionals who would like to continue their education to gain additional credentials and showcase specific abilities. Because experience is so important in the human resources field, online programs give the student the experience and credentials they need in order to start a career or build on an already established career.

Because human resource managers and specialists have such a wide range of job functions, the necessary educational requirements may vary. For example, a bachelor's degree can get a prospective employee in the door, with entry-level positions. For high-level managerial positions within a larger company, a master's degree may be necessary. Online programs help to optimize experience and education simultaneously, giving students the flexibility to work fulltime in the human resources or general business field while earning an advanced degree.

With all online programs, it's important to do your research when picking a human resources program, online or otherwise: is the school accredited? Will credits transfer? What is the school's job placement rate? What are people saying about this school in general and this program specifically?

Human Resources Skills and Abilities

For a human resources manager or specialist, communication and listening skills are essential. A strong management background is also important, as is a broad range of diverse work experience, preferably in different industries.

Human resources managers sometimes must make difficult decisions, so problem-solving and critical thinking skills are extremely important. HR managers at larger companies must be able to coordinate employees and entire departments. It's especially important for an HR manager to have exceptional communication skills and social skills when recruiting, hiring, firing and dealing with employees in general.

Human Resources Qualifications and Advancement

Associate's degrees in human resources qualify candidates for positions as Human Resources Assistants.

Human Resources bachelor's degree programs qualify candidates for entry-level positions as Human Resources Managers and Specialists.

Many advanced positions require extensive work experience and master's or even doctoral degrees with a focus on human resources management and development.

Additional Information

The Society for Human Resource Management maintains a Web site at

The American Society for Training and Development maintains a Web site at