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Human Resource Career Paths

Employers seek graduates of a human resource or labor relations-related bachelor degree program when filling entry-level human resource positions. Depending on the organization the position will serve, employers may prefer applicants with a particular type of experience background, such as manufacturing, technology, or legal, to match with the company’s industry; this experience translates into a better understanding of the concerns of the employee groups who work at the organization.

Typical duties for entry-level personnel will vary depending on the specialty area, but they typically include administrative duties such as data-entry, phone reception and researching data; these duties will help the new HR professional learn about the organization and profession. Larger employers often have an on-the-job training program that progressively introduces the new hire to the different areas and tasks within the human resources department(s), allowing them to work with each for several months before placing them in a specific area the best suits their skills, interests, and the organization’s needs.

Below is a breakdown of the number of human resources professionals in each occupational specialty:

  • Training and development specialists – 205,020
  • Employment, recruitment and placement specialists – 198,190
  • Human resource managers – 62,990
  • Compensation, benefits and job analysis specialists – 111,890
  • Human resources, training, and labor relations specialists, all other – 219,240

Career Outlook

As the number of businesses increases, employment in human resources-related careers is expected to grow faster than the average for all occupations. Many of these new positions will be created by employers as a measure to ensure all occupational safety, equal opportunity, family leave and other regulations/guidelines are met. Other human resources professionals will be employed to create enticing benefits packages that will help a company offset the rising cost of health care benefits for its employees with other perks.

Because this function is becoming increasingly important to businesses small and large, the number of human resources consulting agencies is also increasing. These agencies can offer lucrative careers for professionals with specialty areas such as employee compensation and training. Those with college degrees and certification will have the greatest job prospects.

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

Career Advancement

A formal college education is required for advancement in the field of human resource management. Certain specialties or employers may require a master’s degree with a concentration in human resources. Certification is also highly desirable by employers, and most upper-level human resource professionals have at least one certification.

Work Environment

Human resource professionals typically work in an office environment. Some may work from home occasionally, and others travel frequently (especially those performing recruiting or training roles). Work weeks are typically 40 hours, however those involved in contract disputes or mediation may work additional hours when contracts are being prepared and negotiated.

Positions in human resources often receive compensation and benefits packages that include health care, retirement savings plan(s) and paid vacation/sick time.

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