What Can You Do With a Human Resources Degree?

Liz Heintz

Written By: Liz Heintz

Published: 5/10/2022

After considering if a degree in human resources (HR) may be a good fit, it helps to explore various career paths. As the future of work continues to evolve post-pandemic, trained HR professionals can be integral to helping organizations maneuver through the transition, opening the door to numerous career opportunities. Occupations can range from an entry-level assistant and supervisory job requiring an associate degree to a mid- or high-level management position requiring an undergraduate or graduate degree. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the average median annual salary in HR management that generally requires a bachelor's degree can range from under $75,000 a year for the lowest 10% to over $208,000 for the highest, with a 9% job growth rate.

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What is a Human Resources Degree

Human resources (HR) degree programs, available at the associate, bachelor's, or master's level, help you develop skills and knowledge to help an organization's leaders effectively manage their most valuable asset — their employees. Coursework explores topics such as benefits and compensation, employment law, talent acquisition and retention, training and development, and how to be an effective liaison between management and staff. While some students study to become HR generalists, others may choose a specialization including payroll and recordkeeping, recruitment, data science, or healthcare management.

It generally takes a full-time student two years to complete a degree at the associate level, four years at the bachelor's level, and two at the graduate level. Graduation includes completing approximately 60 credit hours to earn an associate degree, 120 credit hours to earn a bachelor's degree, and 36 credit hours to earn a master's degree or an MBA with an HR concentration. Internships may not be required.


Once you graduate, you may be eligible to earn certifications from industry-recognized organizations such as the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM).

What Can You Do With a Human Resources Degree?

You can take several paths within each degree level, which can help with job advancement throughout your career. You'll notice that some positions listed below have low job outlooks. However, the job outlook may be higher in your area. It's essential to see the whole picture to determine where you may want to focus your career and where additional opportunities may lie.

HR Assistant

Median Annual Salary: $45,630

Job Outlook: -1%

HR assistants serve as recordkeepers for organizations and assist HR management staff. They research and record employee data, such as addresses and phone numbers, wage information, supervisor reports and employee reviews, and termination information. They often prepare reports for other managers and department leaders.

Details:

Education Requirement: Vocational training or Associate Degree

Other job titles include: HR Associate, HR Administrative Assistant, Personnel Clerk

Supervisor of Office and Administrative Support Workers

Median Annual Salary: $60,590

Job Outlook: -1%

Supervisors of office and administrative support workers oversee staff who provide clerical and administrative support throughout organizations. They can use the skills they acquire through their education to help motivate, develop, and manage staff.

Details:

Education Requirement: Vocational training or associate degree

Other job titles include: Office Coordinator, Office Manager, Staff Services Manager, Office Supervisor

General and Operations Manager

Median Annual Salary: $97,970

Job Outlook: 5-10%

General and operations managers oversee the operations of organizations that may include planning and coordinating the use of human resources. They may use their HR skills to work in any area of management or administration and manage staff through subordinate supervisors. They may also oversee multiple departments or locations.

Details:

Education Requirement: Bachelor's degree

Other job titles include: Business Manager, Store Manager, Operations Director

HR Manager

Median Annual Salary: $126,230

Job Outlook: 5-10%

HR managers plan, direct, and coordinate HR policies and procedures within organizations. This may include recruiting new employees and training staff, consulting business leaders on strategic planning, resolving employee disputes, administering benefits packages, and serving as the primary link between management and their employees.

Details:

Education Requirement: Bachelor's degree

Other job titles include: Employee Relations Manager, HR Director, HR Administration Director

Labor Relations Specialist

Median Annual Salary: $77,010

Job Outlook: -1%

Labor relations specialists work with employees and organizations that have unionized. They negotiate collective bargaining agreements, handle employee complaints, and coordinate grievance procedures. Labor relations specialists may also train an organization's management on labor relations.

Details:

Education Requirement: Bachelor's degree

Other job titles include: Business Agent, Business Representative, Grievance Manager, Field Operations Coordinator

Project Management Specialist

Median Annual Salary: $76,040

Job Outlook: 5-10%

Project management specialists may work on special projects within HR where their degree can help them provide expertise. These projects may include the implementation of new benefit programs or the restructuring of compensation packages. Project management specialists oversee the budgeting and staffing of projects and manage timelines while leading and guiding project team staff. They also provide project status reports to leadership.

Details:

Education Requirement: Bachelor's degree

Other job titles include: Project Manager, Project Coordinator

Training and Development Manager

Median Annual Salary: $120,130

Job Outlook: 10-15%

Training and development managers help staff grow to meet organizational goals and needs. They plan, coordinate, and direct training programs — some managers may create the programs themselves. Training and development managers may also assess and evaluate the effectiveness of training programs and instructors.

Details:

Education Requirement: Bachelor's degree

Other job titles include: Education and Development Manager, Education Director, Learning Manager, Staff Training and Development Manager, Training and Development Director, Training and Development Specialist

Chief Executive

Median Annual Salary: $179,520

Job Outlook: -1%

Chief executives plan and coordinate an organization's operational activities at the highest management level. They plan strategies and policies in alignment with organizational goals. Chief executives appoint department leaders and managers who administer an organization's day-to-day processes and policies.

Details:

Education Requirement: Master's degree

Other job titles include: Chief Diversity Officer, Chief Human Resources Officer, Chief Executive Officer, Chief Operating Officer, Executive Director, Executive Vice President

Computer and Information Systems Manager

Median Annual Salary: $159,010

Job Outlook: 10-15%

Computer and information systems managers plan, direct, and coordinate data systems and processes within departments and organizations. Those who work in HR may work with an HR information system (HRIS) that tracks employee information and statistical data.

Details:

Education Requirement: Master's or MBA degree with a bachelor's in information technology or a related field

Other job titles include: Information Systems Director, Information Technology Manager, MIS Director, Data Processing Manager, Technical Services Manager

Management Analyst

Median Annual Salary: $93,000

Job Outlook: 10-15%

Management analysts focus on ways to improve efficiency within organizations. Those who work on HR teams may work to design new systems and procedures and create ways to simplify work processes and measure performance.

Details:

Education Requirement: Master's degree

Other job titles include: Employment Programs Analyst, Management Consultant, Administrative Analyst, Business Analyst, Program Management Analyst, Change Manager

Medical and Health Services Manager

Median Annual Salary: $101,340

Job Outlook: 15% or higher

Medical and health services managers who specialized in healthcare management when earning their HR degrees oversee the recruitment, hiring, and training of personnel in medical facilities. They supervise the day-to-day management of staff and evaluate their work. These health services managers are also responsible for developing and maintaining electronic data and records management systems.

Details:

Education Requirement: Master's degree

Other job titles include: Clinical Director, Health Manager, Health Information Management Director

Where Can You Work With an HR Degree

While an HR degree can take you almost anywhere in a diversity of work environments, there are places where these skills are in high demand. For example, we've reviewed additional data from Burning Glass Technologies to determine where HR managers are working across the U.S.

Where Are HR Managers Working?

Top Five Industries Manufacturing; healthcare and social assistance; professional, scientific, and technical services; finance and insurance; and accomodation and food services
Top Five Companies Deloitte, Accenture, Marriott International Incorporated, Bausch & Lomb, and Anthem Blue Cross
Top Five States California, Texas, Florida, New York, and Illinois

According to BLS data, the following five states pay their HR managers the highest wages, though it's important to keep in mind that most of these states also have high costs of living, so your salary may not go as far as other places.

  • New York
  • New Jersey
  • District of Columbia
  • Massachusetts
  • Rhode Island

What Skills Do Employers Look For?

Employers seek applicants who bring soft skills - professional attitude, work ethic, critical thinking abilities - along with skills acquired through education and those gained through prior work experience. While soft skills apply to any occupation, other skills may be job-specific. For example, according to the data analytics company Burning Glass Technologies, employers seek recruitment or leadership skills when hiring HR managers. However, skills may be similar across an HR department regardless of your role.

Top 10 Employer-Requested Skills for HR Managers

Communication

Employee relations

HR management

Teamwork and collaboration

Performance management

Onboarding

Planning

Problem solving

Organizational

Microsoft Excel

Still Have Questions?

It's important to remember that an HR degree can be incredibly versatile. The skills you'll develop can apply to various industries and organizations. Even if you have the entrepreneurial spirit and choose to spend your HR career as an independent contractor or consultant, the skill set developed in this degree program may serve you well.

However, if you're still undecided about which career path to choose, a program advisor or career center representative at your school may be able to help you explore other options. Our career finder tool can also help you find a path within your major or other majors of interest. Additionally, professional networking sites such as LinkedIn can also be a valuable source to network with HR professionals to learn about what their jobs are like and explore job opportunities.

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