Human resources is one of the fastest growing career paths in the United States. In addition to high-earning potential, a human resources career can be personally rewarding and offer longevity. It can even lead to an executive-level position within an organization.
If you’re interested in pursuing it, you should have a clear understanding of the human resources career path, including what the work entails and how to remain competitive in the field.
What Does Human Resources Do?
The human resources department is an important part of any organization. In addition to keeping employees engaged, human resources develops and maintains the company culture. Human resource managers “oversee the recruiting, interviewing and hiring of new staff; consult with top executives on strategic planning; and serve as a link between an organization’s management and its employees,” according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. There’s also the potential to specialize in employee relations, benefits and compensation, talent acquisition, labor relations, risk management, and organizational development.
The main responsibilities of human resources include:
- Ensuring organizations comply with complex and changing employment laws
- Hiring and training the workforce
- Overseeing a performance management system
- Establishing a conducive work culture
- Conflict management
- Acting as liaison between management and staff
The Human Resources Job Outlook
There are quite a few reasons to pursue a career in human resources. The human resources job outlook is very strong. In fact, it’s one of the fastest growing fields in the United States; “employment of human resources managers is projected to grow 9 percent from 2014 to 2024,” which is above average of seven percent.
One of the most compelling reasons to consider this career path is that the median human resources salary (according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics at the U.S. Department of Labor) is just over $100,000 per year. “The top 10 percent of those in human resources management earned $183,590, while HR specialists and recruiters earned a median salary of $57,420, and compensation and benefits managers earned a median salary of $108,070.”
It should be noted, however, that salary range and job responsibilities vary widely across industries. For example, the highest human resources salaries are usually offered through scientific and technical consulting firms. You also have the potential to earn a higher salary if you specialize in labor relations or organizational development.
The majority of human resources jobs available can be found at companies and enterprises, followed by local government, hospitals, employment services and computer systems design firms. The top-paying industries (in order from highest to lowest) are: information services, brokerage and securities firms, the film industry, cable and other subscription planning services, and financial services.
How to Pursue a Human Resources Career
The typical human resources career path includes a combination of education and related work experience. Having an advanced degree can also give you a competitive edge. While a bachelor’s degree is sufficient for entry-level human resources jobs, many organizations require a master’s degree to qualify for mid-management and senior-level positions. It’s also important to stay on top of changes in employment law, compensation and benefits packages and to know the latest HR software.
One of the most important things you can do to advance your human resources career is to get certified. Some jobs actually require that you have certain credentials. According to the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), which administers the SHRM Certified Professional (SHRM-CP) and SHRM Senior Certified Professional (SHRM-SCP) certification exams, these credentials help “to ensure the professional’s ability to demonstrate what they know and what they can do with their knowledge in the variety of situations they encounter.” They may also serve to establish your expertise in the field and distinguish you from your colleagues.
If you’re thinking about pursuing a career in HR, you should consider getting an online Master’s in Human Resources Management through Saint Mary’s University of Minnesota. The curriculum at Saint Mary’s is aligned with SHRM and prepares you for the SHRM-CP and SHRM-SCP certification exams. Getting an online master’s in human resources can provide you with the skills you need to advance your career, including leadership, management and strategy, organizational development, and conflict resolution.