New employment laws, constantly changing healthcare coverage options, and a diversifying (sometimes international) workforce makes running a modern business more challenging than ever. That is why good human resource professionals are increasingly vital to organizational success. Between 2016 and 2026, the number of jobs for human resource specialists is expected to increase by over 540,000,* while positions for human resource managers are predicted to expand by 136,000.†
That’s a lot of opportunity. But if you want to build a successful human resource career, you need more than opportunity. You need a plan. Here are a few steps you can take to improve your HR career.
If someone asks you, “What is human resources?,” how would you respond? After all, it’s a lot more than hiring and firing. It can include everything from conflict resolution to employee training to helping a company’s executives develop strategic plans. In fact, there are so many aspects to human resources, many HR professionals choose to specialize. The question you have to ask yourself is whether you want to follow one of the specialized career paths or whether you want to be a generalist.
Human Resource Generalist
HR generalists typically start out in a business’ HR department, assisting with departmental tasks and coordinating/administering aspects of employee-related programs and events. As a generalist, you’ll need to be versed in the major HR issues impacting companies, including recruitment, benefits, labor regulations, harassment policies, and workforce morale. Ultimately, HR generalists can advance to HR manager positions within human resource departments. If you want to eventually be a corporate vice president of human resources, the generalist path is likely right for you.
Human Resource Specialist
HR specialists focus on one aspect of human resources, beginning their careers in positions such as recruiter, trainer, benefits coordinator, safety coordinator, payroll supervisor, or job analyst. While some specialists transition to a generalist position in an HR department, many continue within their specialty, becoming a consultant or a team manager in charge of their area of expertise (benefits, safety, staffing, training, etc.). If you have a strong interest in one area of human resources and want to set yourself apart with expert-level skills in that area, the specialist path is likely right for you.
Earning a human resource degree, such as an MS in Human Resource Management, can significantly improve your career prospects. With a master’s in human resources, you can gain valuable HR skills, become certified more easily, and put yourself in position for a higher human resource salary.
Even if you’re currenting working full time, you should consider earning your master’s in human resource management online. That’s because online education is making earning a graduate degree more convenient than ever before. Instead of requiring you to live close to a campus, online learning lets you earn your degree from home. Plus, at an online university, you can take advantage of flexible scheduling, choosing when in the day you attend class.
Online education is making it possible for working adults to get ahead. With an online master’s degree in human resources, you can become more marketable in your HR career.
Walden University is an accredited institution offering an online MS in Human Resource Management degree program and an online Graduate Certificate in Human Resource Management. Expand your career options and earn your degree in a convenient, flexible format that fits your busy life.
*Bureau of Labor Statistics, Human Resources Specialists, Occupational Outlook Handbook, on the internet at www.bls.gov/ooh/business-and-financial/human-resources-specialists.htm.
† Bureau of Labor Statistics, Human Resources Managers, Occupational Outlook Handbook, on the internet at www.bls.gov/ooh/management/human-resources-managers.htm.
Walden University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission www.hicommission.org.