Careers in Human Resources

BA-HR catalog information
Bachelor of Arts – Plan of Study
BS-HR catalog information
Bachelor of Science – Plan of Study

The Human Resources major prepares you for careers in human resource (HR) management and general management. Increasingly, organizations are hiring well-trained professionals to manage the most important asset of the business, its human resources. Attracting the most qualified employees and matching them to the jobs for which they are best suited is important for the success of any organization. However, many enterprises are too large to permit close contact between top management and employees. Human resources, training, and labor relations managers and specialists provide this link. In the past, these workers have been associated with performing the administrative function of an organization, such as handling employee benefits questions or recruiting, interviewing, and hiring new personnel in accordance with policies and requirements that have been established in conjunction with top management. Today’s human resources workers juggle these tasks and, increasingly, consult top executives regarding strategic planning. They have moved from behind-the-scenes staff work to leading the company in suggesting and changing policies. Senior management is recognizing the importance of the human resources department to their financial success.

If you are a business-minded people person who can cope well with conflicting points of view and demonstrate integrity, discretion and fair-mindedness, this specialized area of business may hold your best career opportunity. In a human resource (HR) management career, you’ll be providing support to the employees of a company, dealing with everything from labor relations and employment law to training and staffing for management positions to the data integrity and maintenance of the entire HR system. With knowledge about current business practices, experience with HR practices and strong communication skills, you’ll have the foundation you need to help effectively manage a company’s workforce.

Job Outlook

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Outlook Handbook, for all occupations through the year 2014, the abundant supply of qualified college graduates and experienced workers should create keen competition for jobs. Overall employment of human resources, training, and labor relations managers and specialists is expected to grow faster than the average for all occupations through 2012. In addition to openings due to growth, many job openings will arise from the need to replace workers who transfer to other occupations or leave the labor force.

Legislation and court rulings setting standards in various areas-occupational safety and health, equal employment opportunity, wages, health, pensions, and family leave, among others-will increase demand for human resources, training, and labor relations experts. Rising healthcare costs should continue to spur demand for specialists to develop creative compensation and benefits packages that firms can offer prospective employees. Employment of labor relations staff, including arbitrators and mediators, should grow as firms become more involved in labor relations, and attempt to resolve potentially costly labor-management disputes out of court. Additional job growth may stem from increasing demand for specialists in international human resources management and human resources information systems.

Demand may be particularly strong for certain specialists. For example, employers are expected to devote greater resources to job-specific training programs in response to the increasing complexity of many jobs, the aging of the workforce, and technological advances that can leave employees with obsolete skills. This should result in particularly strong demand for training and development specialists. In addition, increasing efforts throughout industry to recruit and retain quality employees should create many jobs for employment, recruitment, and placement specialists.

HR Jobs – entry level and later

With a major in human resource management, you’ll be prepared to spearhead a wide variety of personnel issues. Typical first jobs for HRM majors include corporate recruiter, employee relations specialist, compensation analyst, corporate trainer, HR generalist, and management trainee. Titles of HR employees with five or more years of experience might include director of human resources; compensation, employee assistance plan, benefits, employment, placement or labor relations manager; equal employment opportunity officer; affirmative action coordinator; occupational analyst; recruiter; and training and development specialist. As an HR professional your responsibilities could include:

  • Interviewing and hiring employees
  • Developing personnel policies with top management
  • Managing employee benefits
  • Investigating and resolving grievances
  • Maintaining confidential records and personnel files
  • Coordinating equipment acquisition and IT access
  • Preparing new hire manuals and conducting orientation

The duties given to entry-level workers will vary, depending on whether the new workers have a degree in human resource management, have completed an internship, or have some other type of human resources-related experience. Entry-level employees commonly learn the profession by performing administrative duties-helping to enter data into computer systems, compiling employee Handbooks, researching information for a supervisor, or answering the phone and handling routine questions. Entry-level workers often enter formal or on-the-job training programs in which they learn how to classify jobs, interview applicants, or administer employee benefits. They then are assigned to specific areas in the personnel department to gain experience. Later, they may advance to a managerial position, overseeing a major element of the personnel program-compensation or training, for example.

Earnings

Annual salary rates for human resources workers vary according to occupation, level of experience, training, location, and size of the firm, and whether they are union members. Median annual earnings of human resources managers were $64,710 in 2002. The middle 50 percent earned between $47,420 and $88,100. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $36,280, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $114,300.
Median annual earnings of training and development specialists were $42,800 in 2002. The middle 50 percent earned between $32,050 and $56,890. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $24,760, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $72,530.

Median annual earnings of employment, recruitment, and placement specialists were $39,410 in 2002. The middle 50 percent earned between $30,390 and $54,130. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $24,440, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $73,940. Median annual earnings in 2002 were $34,850 in employment services, the industry employing the largest numbers of these specialists.

Median annual earnings of compensation, benefits, and job analysis specialists were $45,100 in 2002. The middle 50 percent earned between $35,000 and $57,230. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $28,160, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $72,250. Median annual earnings in 2002 were $48,870 in local government, the industry employing the largest numbers of these specialists.

According to a 2003 salary survey conducted by the National Association of Colleges and Employers, bachelor’s degree candidates majoring in human resources, including labor relations, received starting offers averaging $35,400 a year.

*Source: U.S. Department of Labor – Bureau of Labor Statistics