Is a Bachelor's in Human Resources Worth It?
Only you can definitively answer this question because your goals, responsibilities, and finances differ from everyone else's. The choice is ultimately yours, but the following pros and cons may help guide your decision.
Most HR careers are growing at a steady rate. According to the BLS, each career field for the specialists identified above will likely expand by 10-11% by the end of 2030, which is higher than the 8% rate for all U.S. jobs. Two of the three roles are growing at an average rate or faster at the management level.
Studying online may provide extra flexibility to help you balance your responsibilities. Online learning lets you work at your own pace as long as you respect assignment due dates. It also makes it possible to enroll in an appealing program anywhere in the country without uprooting your life.
A degree in HR may limit your career opportunities unnecessarily. You can potentially work in HR after earning a bachelor's in business or a broader liberal arts discipline such as communications or psychology. If you're not completely sure that HR is the right career path, you might consider enrolling in one of these fields instead to give you a wider range of options.
It may be more difficult to network while studying online. Distance learning tends to limit informal interactions among colleagues and professors, so it's more difficult to make contacts who can help in your future career. You can partially mitigate this drawback by taking advantage of any internship and networking opportunities your program offers.
Is a Human Resources Degree a Good Fit For Me?
A degree in HR might help you secure stable work in a variety of industries, but that doesn't mean you'll find the work personally fulfilling. Although there's no guarantee of a good fit until you start your career, it may be useful to consider how well your skills and interests match what's needed for this field.
The BLS lists communication skills as a quality common to HR professionals. They act as liaisons between potential recruits and hiring managers, employees from different teams, and individual contributors and managers, so they must listen, speak, and write to all of these groups. Communication skills — both written and oral — are crucial to understanding what everyone wants and making it clear what they can expect. You might enjoy HR if you've earned high grades in writing classes or enjoyed the time you spent on a speech team.
Human Resources Scholarships
Most college and graduate students use at least some financial aid to help fund their education. This can be gift aid that doesn't require repayment — grants, scholarships, and work-study funding — or student loans that you will need to repay with interest after graduating.
You typically start the financial aid process by completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). The Department of Education uses this form to determine your eligibility for federal aid, as do most states and colleges. If you have undocumented immigration status, you can't qualify for federal aid. However, many states have similar forms so they can consider you for state aid programs.
Some donors offer scholarships especially for HR students. We've listed a few of these below, but you can also check with the financial aid offices of any colleges you're considering.
Women in both bachelor's and master's HR programs can pursue a $5,000 award. Up to 37 students per year can receive this scholarship.
You may qualify for this $3,000 award if you're a master's student in HR. You also need to express an interest in working for the public sector.
Student SHRM members can qualify for awards of up to $2,500 as undergraduates and up to $5,000 as graduate students. Bachelor's students must demonstrate a minimum 3.0 GPA and master's students need to show at least a 3.5.
Accreditation is a testament to a college's quality and allows it to accept federal financial aid, so it's important to attend an accredited school. There are two kinds of institutional accreditation: national and regional. You may want to consider regionally accredited schools first because regional accrediting agencies have higher academic standards. Also, most regionally accredited colleges will only accept transfer credits from schools with the same status. You can find the recognized regional accreditors on the Council for Higher Education Accreditation site.
There is no programmatic accrediting body that formally certifies HR degrees. But the SHRM has developed the Academic Alignment Program, which is a series of key learning outcomes that it encourages colleges to consider as they write a curriculum. You can search the SHRM's directory of aligned programs, which includes both online and on-campus HR degrees. Graduating from an aligned program helps ensure that you meet the prerequisites for certification in the future.
There is no programmatic accrediting body that formally certifies HR degrees.
Human Resources Certification
Professional certification is a voluntary process whereby you earn an extra credential that you can tour on your resume. Although certification isn't necessary for every job in HR, it may give you an advantage in a future job search.
Students and early-career employees can pursue the SHRM Certified Professional credential, which requires passing an extensive exam on HR practices. You can test for the SHRM Senior Certified Professional designation once you have at least three years of experience and some level of strategic leadership. Another option is the HR Certification Institute, which has eight levels of certification depending on your education and experience.
Make sure you speak to HR professionals before deciding which certifications you want — working specialists may have the best insight into which organization is preferred in the industry.