One of the keys to running a successful business is being able to hire, train, and maintain a qualified and motivated staff. In small companies, these responsibilities are often handed over to senior managers. Mid to large-size companies, however, rely on dedicated human resources professionals, who can manage a variety... of personnel issues.
As a human resources manager, you would be the channel of communication between employees and a company's executive team. Your responsibilities may include recruiting, interviewing, and hiring new staff, as well as supporting current employees and executives. Your specific duties might include coordinating benefits, advising managers on company policies, overseeing annual reviews, providing leadership training, or handling problems such as complaints against fellow staff members.
To get started in the field, you may look for an entry-level position, such as a human resources assistant job. In this and similar administrative jobs, you would handle a variety of general office tasks such as answering phones and organizing files. A two-year degree program completed online — for example, an online Associate of Science in Human Resource Management — may prepare you for this type of job, which could provide valuable hands-on experience working with HR executives, supporting fellow employees, and dealing with personnel issues. You may find that there are a limited number of entry-level positions like these available. An attempt to cut costs and the fact that many basic tasks have been automated means that there is less demand for human resources assistants. Larger companies still do hire these entry-level workers, however, and a strong academic background along with excellent communication techniques may help you compete for related job openings.
To qualify for a job as a human resources manager, you usually need at least a bachelor degree in human resources. You might also complete a degree in business administration, but should take a substantial number of credits in courses related to human resources — such as industrial psychology and organizational development. For a more competitive resume, you may opt to earn an online MBA or online Master of Science in Human Resource Management. Some professionals also elect to earn certification in the field through organizations such as the Society for Human Resource Management.
Job prospects for human resources managers are expected to grow 13 percent by 2020* according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. If you are certified or have earned your master degree, you might be better able to compete for the most sought-after job openings. You might also improve your marketability by completing coursework that relates to a specific industry — like healthcare, technology, or finance.
Another option for professionals in this industry is to pursue a career as a human resources specialist. As a human resources specialist, you would most likely work for an employment or staffing company. Your responsibilities might include filling job openings for corporate clients or coordinating training for those companies. Employment of human resources specialists is expected to increase about 21 percent through 2020** (faster than average), according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
* The preceding information was obtained from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics' (BLS) online resource, "Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2012-13 Edition," available at: http://www.bls.gov/ooh/management/human-resources-managers.htm and ** at: http://www.bls.gov/ooh/business-and-financial/human-resources-specialists.htm
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