What Degree Do You Need for a Career in Human Resources?

Interested in pursuing a career in human resources? There’s more than one way to do that. Read this blog to learn what schooling is required for human resources.

The greatest resource of a company is its employees. Treating them fairly and providing them with growth opportunities will help businesses achieve their ideas and hit business goals. This is where human resources (HR) comes into the picture.

HR is the term that comprises the management and development of employees in an organization. They focused on hiring, firing, and the annual pay review. But more recently, HR has been positively reframed and now covers a much wider remit. Ultimately, it’s all about increasing employee performance.

But what kind of schooling do you need for human resources? Keep reading to find out.

What Does a Professional in HR Do?

Human resources are an essential link between the company’s and the employee’s needs. HR professionals handle people-related problems and need within an organization. They often manage recruiting, hiring, firing, onboarding new hires, and the orientation process to get employees set up in their new roles. When employee issues arise, human resources may get involved to assist in the resolution process. HR professionals must also maintain detailed employee records regarding any actions taken for legal purposes.

An efficiently run human resources department can maintain the structure of a business and provide support and assistance to the organization’s employees. Some HR professionals focus on specific areas of the industry, such as payroll, benefits, or training, while others handle more generalized tasks for the business overall.

What Degree Do You Need for a Human Resources Career?


Most human resources professionals come from a generalized educational background, usually from business administration or social sciences. As the competition continues to increase and processes get more complicated, companies are looking for experts trained in industry best practices.

Luckily, there’s no shortage of options regarding specialized human resources education. Let’s look at available HR degrees, certifications, and the professionals best suited for each path.

Certificate in human resource management

Certifications in human resources indicate your expertise and can increase your earnings. While there are numerous certifications in HR, here are the most popular ones:

Associate degree in human resource management


If you are seeking a quick way to kick-start your HR career, then pursuing an associate degree is the first step you need to take. An associate’s degree in human resources will open doors for you in entry-level positions where you provide general administrative support.

An associate’s degree in human resources takes up to two years to earn. Some of the courses will include:

Depending on whether you want to advance in your career, you may pursue your bachelor’s degree.

Bachelor’s degree in human resource management

A bachelor’s degree in human resources is perfect for people with no experience who want to get an entry-level position in HR or those who hold an associate’s degree and are looking to advance their careers.

A bachelor’s degree will provide higher starting salaries and a clear path for career advancement as you gain professional experience. To complete it is typically a four-year degree. It provides a broad and in-depth education in human resources. When completing the courses, you will know how to

  • Evaluate staffing levels to make hiring decisions
  • Develop employee training and programs
  • Understand employee and labor relation best practices
  • Research compensation and benefits packages

You will also practice applying those theories to real-world situations when pursuing a bachelor’s degree in HR.

Master’s degree in human resource management


For those working in HR for a while and seeking to advance in management or executive position, a master’s degree might be your next step. It can also be an excellent way for people with professional experience looking to switch to HR.

A master’s in human resource management takes 16 to 24 months. It shapes you to be a strategic partner, helping companies gain a competitive advantage. You will take advanced coursework that explores and applies issues like:

  • Strategic resource planning
  • Compensation design and pay equity
  • Employee rights and responsibilities
  • International human resource management

Master’s programs emphasize collaboration, creative problem-solving, critical thinking, and leadership skills and help you advance your career.

HR Jobs

There are two career pathways in human resources: generalist and specialist. A generalist will look for positions including all human resources functions, whereas a specialist will pick a position focused on only one of those functions.

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Let’s examine how you can advance your career as a generalist, beginning as an HR coordinator or branching off into a specialist role focused on recruiting benefits or training.

Human resource recruiter (Associate’s)

A human resources (HR) recruiter is accountable for all aspects of recruiting for a company and plays a critical role in ensuring to hire the best possible talent. The job requires the capability to perform the following duties:

  • Developing and executing recruiting procedures
  • Networking through industry contacts, trade groups, social media, and employees
  • Developing and following goals for the recruiting and hiring process
  • Coordinating and executing college recruiting initiatives
  • Handling administrative responsibilities and recordkeeping
  • Cooperating with hiring managers to create job descriptions
  • Collecting data on cost per hire
  • Researching and suggesting new sources for candidate recruiting

Labor relations specialist (Bachelor’s)


A labor relations specialist operates with a company’s representatives and labor union to analyze labor contracts about wages, pensions, and healthcare, as well as management and union practices. These specialists manage specific worker grievances and determine whether labor and management solutions comply with the relevant agreement.

Labor relations specialists guide management on grievances, disciplinary procedures, and contracts. These specialists are responsible for drafting proposals, rules, and regulations to promote collective bargaining.

To become a labor relations specialist, you need a bachelor’s degree in one of these fields:

  • Human resources
  • Business
  • Accounting
  • Human resource management

Labor relations specialists ensure human resource policies comply with union agreements. They also train management on labor relations and investigate the validity of any labor grievances or claims.

Chief human resources officer (Master’s)

A chief human resources officer (CHRO) is an administrator who supervises the organization’s HR management and labor relations policies and operations. The CHRO provides strategic leadership by communicating HR needs and plans to the executive shareholders and the board of leaders.

They are responsible for developing and executing human resource strategy to support the organization’s overall business plan and strategic direction, specifically in succession planning, talent administration, change management, organizational and performance control, training and development, and compensation.

Wrapping Up

To conclude, the HR department, in its most basic form, is a team in charge of managing the employee life cycle, including everything from recruiting, hiring, onboarding, and training to terminating employees and handling benefits administration.

The human resources division significantly influences the culture of a corporation. The workplace culture will be one of openness and growth if HR cares about the workforce’s well-being.

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