You’ve narrowed down your choices and have decided to pursue a career in human resources. Good decision! HR professionals have the important job of hiring, retaining and engaging the talented employees that keep an organization running smoothly. They perform an important internal business function and touch the lives and careers of every worker.
Now that you’ve got your mind set on human resources, where to begin? Education is a good place to start. A bachelor’s degree prepares you for many specialists and generalist roles, while a master’s degree in HR will be required for more complex (and higher-paying) positions. For many employers, work experience will be required: Don’t expect to graduate and get your dream job right away. As you progress in your career, you’ll probably need to seek out additional training and certifications.
Here are four career paths in HR for you to consider:.
Human Resources Managers and Directors
Good HR doesn’t just happen. It requires dedicated, knowledgeable professionals to carefully set a strategy and then put in place the pieces to achieve it. HR managers and HR directors are those professionals, setting the policies, programs and guidelines that attract, develop and retain the most talented workers.
Organizational psychology can help HR leaders learn how to engage employees, enhance productivity, create a collaborative environment and increase satisfaction — all elements that boost the bottom line and reduce costly turnover. Managers and directors typically have master’s degrees.
- The job outlook is expected to grow 9 percent from 2014 to 2024, which is faster than the national average
- Average pay in 2015 was $117,080 per year
- Highest 10 percent of earners made more than $187,000 per year
- About 33 percent of HR managers and directors reported working more than 40 hours a week
Human Resources Coordinators/Specialists
As an HR coordinator/specialist, you’ll be the public face of the HR function, dealing directly with candidates and new hires. An essential part of your job will be to keep the HR organization running smoothly with duties including coordinating activities, conducting preliminary paperwork for recruiting and scheduling interviews. Specialists can start with an associate’s degree.
- The job outlook is expected to grow 5 percent from 2014 to 2024, which is about the same pace as the national average
- Average pay in 2015 was $63,710 per year
- Highest 10 percent of earners made more than $99,920 per year
- Most coordinators/specialists work full time during regular business hours
A benefits specialist has the important role of researching, implementing and coordinating the organization’s various employee benefits programs, such as healthcare, retirement and insurance plans. This requires the ability to determine the costs and benefits of each program, as well as the insight to know what kinds of benefits will effectively attract and retain the best talent. Specialist roles typically require an associate’s degree.
- The job outlook is expected to grow 4 percent from 2014 to 2024, which is slower than the national average
- Average pay in 2015 was $121,630
- Highest 10 percent of earners made more than $187,200 a year
- Most benefits specialists work full time during regular business hours
Training and Development Managers
To be effective, an organization needs to provide each employee with the skills, training and development opportunities he or she needs to work productively. In addition, training is necessary to help employees understand the organizational culture, shared behaviors and company expectations. As a training and development manager, you’ll help plan and coordinate these programs. You’ll need a keen understanding of the company and industry so that you can anticipate opportunities and challenges that will require training to address. You’ll most likely need a master’s degree to take on a management role.
- The job outlook is expected to grow 7 percent from 2014 to 2024, which is on par with the national average
- Average pay in 2015 was $111,680
- The highest 10 percent of earners made more than $180,360 a year
- Half of training and development managers reported working more than 40 hours a week, and travel might be required