Those who work in human resources may have several duties within an organization, all pertaining to the recruiting, interviewing, hiring, training and retention of employees. The work might also include working with benefits and compensation, serving as a liaison between management and employees, and facilitating terminations when necessary. Online human resources programs can be the first step toward a fulfilling career in the field.
Online HR Degree Programs
Depending on the level one chooses to pursue in the human resources field, different educational requirements apply. Those who want to work as human resources assistants can enter the field with a high school diploma or GED, and can learn a great deal on the job. Human resource assistants made a mean annual wage of $39,180 in May 2015, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. For those who are interested in pursuing higher levels of the HR field, additional education is required.
Students can further their career options by obtaining an associate degree. The associate degree typically takes two years to complete, and prepares students to enter the workforce or serves as a stepping stone to the bachelor's degree. The degree focuses on general education requirements as well as targeted human resource courses.
In most cases, those who choose to work in human resources management or as a human resource specialist must have a bachelor's degree for entry-level work. Though students can choose to pursue online human resources degrees in order to meet these requirements, they might also be served well with a bachelor's degree in management or business administration, with an emphasis on human resources. The bachelor's degree program typically takes four years to complete, and can lead to one of the following careers:
- Human resources manager
- Administrative services manager
- Compensation and benefits manager
- Human resources specialist
- Training and development manager
Those who want to advance in the field and take on positions of more responsibility might consider earning a Master of Business Administration (MBA). This typically requires one to three years of study after the bachelor's program. However, the extra time invested in education often pays off with higher incomes. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported a 2014 mean annual wage of $62,590 for human resources specialists and $114,140 for human resources managers. Keep in mind that the much higher wages for managers are likely earned by those who have been awarded the master's degree.
Career Outlook for Human Resources Graduates
Those who choose to pursue online HR programs might find a robust career outlook upon graduation. Employment of human resources specialists is expected to grow five percent nationwide from 2014 to 2024, while the outlook for human resources managers is more promising, at nine percent during that same time period. Job growth, just like salaries, can be very dependent upon geographical location.
There are several related occupations that human resource degree graduates might choose to pursue, including those listed below:
|Career||National Annual Mean Wage, May 2015||Projected National Growth 2014-2024|
|Compensation and Benefits Managers||$115,960||6%|
|Training and Development Managers||$103,060||7%|
|Administrative Services Managers||$96,970||8%|
|Public Relations Specialists||$62,320||6%|
Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2015
Choosing the Right Human Resources School
When choosing the right school for online HR degrees, it is important to look at accreditation. Accreditation means that a school or program has been evaluated by an independent body and found to offer a high-quality education that is on a par with other schools, whether they are online or traditional. Accreditation is vitally important, as most schools will accept transfer credits from only accredited schools. In addition, employers often want to hire those who have earned their degree from an accredited institution.
Beyond proving accreditation status, online HR programs should also answer a few important questions for aspiring students.
- Does the program have a good reputation among graduates and employers?
- Does the faculty reflect the best and brightest in the human resources field?
- What's the graduation rate?
- Is there a career services department that might be able to help with job placement or networking?
When it comes to online schools, another important question pertains to the format and delivery of the lessons. Online human resources programs should offer many avenues for students to stay connected with peers and professors, including video conferencing, message boards, chat rooms and more. Students should also look into the schedules of classes to determine if the program is the right pick for their needs.
Online human resources degrees can open up new worlds of employment for those who want to further their education and increase their marketability. Start today by looking into the best HR schools with the widest range of degree programs available.
- Human Resources Mangers, Occupational Outlook Handbook, Bureau of Labor Statistics, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/management/human-resources-managers.htm#tab-1
- Occupational Employment Statistics, Bureau of Labor Statistics, May 2015 National Occupational Employment and Wage Estimates, United States, http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes_nat.htm
- Human Resources Specialists and Labor Relations Specialists, Occupational Outlook Handbook, Bureau of Labor Statistics, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/business-and-financial/human-resources-specialists-and-labor-relations-specialists.htm#tab-1