Human resource departments are a vital part of many businesses and corporations. Every industry that employs a substantial number of people needs a human resources specialist to keep up with employee records, hiring, training, interviewing, recruiting, benefits, pay scales and more. Associate degrees in human resources are a first step toward careers in many industries, such as business, government, insurance and health care.
Earning associate degrees in human resources
Human resources degree programs immerse you in the information and skills necessary to work in a wide variety of settings. Typical courses include employee and labor relations, compensation and benefits, legal issues in employment, communication, statistics, staffing, performance management, training and development, and more. Many employers look for those who have majored in human resources management, administration, or industrial and labor relations. A business background is also helpful for those seeking an entry-level position.
Career options, outlook and salary
Those with an associate degree in human resources can seek entry-level work in a variety of industries, and the Bureau of Labor Statistics lists these as the top four areas of employment:
- Human resources, training and labor relations
- Training and development
- Employment, recruitment and placement
- Compensation, benefits and job analysis
The mean annual wage for those in human resources and training in 2010 depended upon the specialty:
- Compensation and benefits managers: $96,940
- Compensation, benefits and job analysis specialists: $59,590
- Human resources managers: $108,600
- Training and development managers: $95,800
- Training and development specialists: $57,280
The BLS projects employment growth of 20.5 percent growth between 2010 and 2020 for human resources, training and labor relations specialists, who typically hold a bachelor's degree; this is higher than the average growth rate of 14.3 percent expected for all U.S. occupations. In contrast, human resources assistants -- usually those who enter the field with a high school diploma -- should see lower than average growth at 11.2 percent.
Going beyond the associate degree
Online study programs are a viable option if you wish to continue your studies and seek a higher degree while gaining valuable real-world work experience. A bachelor's degree is typical for this major, according to the College Board; also, the BLS notes that the four-year degree is often preferred by employers. Those planning to go into industrial and labor relations might find a master's degree helpful. Those who want to consult, teach or write about the field and policy can earn a Ph.D.