The Field of Human Resources
On the first day of a new job, there’s a good chance you’ll meet with a representative from the human resources department. Paperwork and other filing and record keeping are typically handled by someone with experience in human resources. Why? HR professionals help manage the workforce of an organization or place of business. They are often responsible for the hiring of all new employees and their orientation to the company. Promotions, transfers, resignations—are all typically handled by HR.
Graduate Degrees in Human Resources – What to Know
If you’re currently working in human resources, and want to take your career to the next level, earning a master’s degree in HR is a great way to do just that. You’ll learn advanced skills and prepare for leadership roles. These programs are specifically designed to teach students what it takes to excel in this field.
Below is just a sampling of the type of courses you can expect to take in a graduate-level program:
- Compensation Management
- Employee Benefits
- Employment Law
- Financial Management
- Organizational Change Management
- Strategic Issues in Human Resource Management
- Team Building and Leadership Skills
You’ll learn managerial techniques in addition to leadership and communications skills that human resource managers need in order to excel at their jobs. Other topics may include additional finance, benefits, group and organizational behavior, and theory classes.
Each program has its own set of required courses so it’s important to research each one carefully to ensure a good fit. Some schools now offer HR programs online, making it easier for students to attend classes while working or balancing other responsibilities. Online programs provide the same curriculum as traditional programs but are flexible enough to fit busy schedules.
The Job of an HR Professional
What is an HR manager responsible for? Quite a bit, actually. The job is a demanding one, and depending on the size of the company or organization, an HR manager may function as the overseer or hundreds, if not thousands of employees. Of course, the bigger the company, the more HR staff a business has. But regardless of size, an HR manager is an important leader within the overall management team.
For a comprehensive job description of a HR manager, O*NET OnLine provides a thorough summary:
- Serve as a link between management and employees by handling questions, interpreting and administering contracts and helping resolve work-related problems.
- Analyze and modify compensation and benefits policies to establish competitive programs and ensure compliance with legal requirements.
- Advise managers on organizational policy matters such as equal employment opportunity and sexual harassment, and recommend needed changes.
- Perform difficult staffing duties, including dealing with understaffing, refereeing disputes, firing employees, and administering disciplinary procedures.
- Plan and conduct new employee orientation to foster positive attitude toward organizational objectives.
- Identify staff vacancies and recruit, interview and select applicants.
- Plan, direct, supervise, and coordinate work activities of subordinates and staff relating to employment, compensation, labor relations, and employee relations.
- Plan, organize, direct, control or coordinate the personnel, training, or labor relations activities of an organization.
- Represent organization at personnel-related hearings and investigations.
- Administer compensation, benefits and performance management systems, and safety and recreation programs.
There are many different job titles in the human resources field. For example, in addition to an HR manager, have you considered the following?
Training and Development Manager
Jobs in HR are wide-ranging, and each company or organization runs their HR department differently. When you start interviewing, it’s important to inquire about the office environment and the day-to-day employee interactions. Smaller companies may only have one HR manager on staff while larger companies employ up to 15 or more HR managers to handle employee training and hiring.
Is HR the Right Field for Me?
HR is not for everyone. People skills and the ability to communicate effectively are important traits to have in order to become successful in this field. Strong organizational skills, attention to details, and the ability to multitask are also characteristics of an effective HR professional.
Some companies might look for candidates who possess presentation skills, as HR professionals are often called upon to lead meetings on such topics as conflict resolution, employee benefits, and other important topics. Managerial skills are also important. If you work as an HR manager, you’ll likely have staff working below you. Therefore, it’s important to know how to train others and give directions.
If you’re still not sure if HR is the field for you, why not contact a school to learn about their program offerings. Find out what courses are offered and what types of jobs are typically available to students upon graduation? Below you’ll find a list of accredited degree programs with links to more information.