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Human Resources, Associate's
Human resources are very much the beating heart of organizations across America – whether they are businesses, governmental bodies or charities. And if you want to become a specialist in this growing sector, an Associate's Degree offers the perfect foundation for finding experience, building your confidence and developing some contacts.
In the main, a course at this level starts by looking at the roles and responsibilities of a HR manager. If a part of your job involves finding new talent to join the company, it's likely you'll be giving help to executives as they look for people to feel exciting positions. Not only will you arrange interviews, it's also your responsibility to get a successful candidate up and running once they are offered employment.
For those who are already working in a company, your responsibilities would be slightly different. It's likely you'll be trying to boost morale through new initiatives that try to enhance productivity and make fellow employees feel appreciated. In addition, you're expected to handle disputes between staff, orchestrate appraisal, and spearhead training sessions whenever they are necessary.
In keeping with other Associate's Degrees in different subjects, you will have to complete a hearty dose of general education prior to focusing on human resources. This ensures that your numeracy and literacy skills are in line with what employers expect – as well as communication, problem solving and IT use.
Such a course can be completed in less than 12 months, enabling you to confidently fulfill a HR assistant role. From here, you might choose to work your way up in an organization or study a Bachelor's Degree in Human Resources to broaden your knowledge base.
Human Resources, Bachelor's
If you decide to take an undergraduate Bachelor's Degree in Human Resources, you'll notice that there's more of a focus on business and entrepreneurialism. This is because it's important to help aspiring professionals differentiate between their roles in the public and private sectors. What's more, many universities afford their students the chance to integrate managerial training into their course, which empowers you with the skills needed to run your own enterprise.
Throughout the course, one of the things that are drummed into students is how important it is to adhere to the ethics policies within the company. Also, you're shown how to effectively market your employer to graduates or other jobseekers that are looking for work – which means that your firm is able to cherry-pick the best talent. One way to give your employer a good press is to introduce a plethora of perks to colleagues, which encourages them to go the extra mile and makes them feel valued in the office.
Research is going to play a major component for anyone who is doing a Bachelor's Degree in Human Resources, and you'll be able to propose topics that you believe warrant further investigation. This allows you to explore case studies from a wide range of institutions – whether they are churches, gyms, banks, schools, or TV networks. Being able to perform such analysis is important, as it shows you how the implementation of HR policy often varies between sectors.
This is a fast-paced industry, and there's a continual demand for new professionals. If you're a people's person, you'll thrive with a Bachelor's Degree in Human Resources.
Human Resources, Masters
Did you know that demand for HR professionals is going to expand by more than 20% in the next four years? This means that if you're willing to take a Masters in Human Resources, you're likely to have much better success in finding a job after graduation than professionals in other subjects.
By going to a postgraduate level, this also shows your prospective employer that you're serious about becoming an asset in HR, who has knowledge of the latest techniques to retain staff, make them feel valued and to handle disputes seamlessly at minimal cost. There is also a meatier focus on the law than you may have seen during a Bachelor's Degree – with contentious areas such as discrimination, health and safety, pension plans and equality.
Over the course of your degree, you get to specialize in certain areas by taking elective modules. This is once the core theory, which all students take, has been completed. Just some of the areas which may be of interest include labor relations, how to team build, measuring performance with metrics, and how to ensure your organization is culturally diverse. Taking any of these courses will do wonders if you're looking for a promotion in the firm where you are currently a HR professional, or if you fancy the idea of launching your own consultancy in time.
The world of HR is changing – and long gone are the days where you used to rely on a recruitment agency to find talent. These days, there are major job boards which have tens of thousands of roles to offer, as well as social media. As such, if you're going to be the best HR professional going, it's important to embrace technology, protect your employers, and stay ahead of the pack.
Human Resources, Doctorate
There are very few Doctorate Programs which provide Human Resources as a straight subject – and instead, you'd be expected to weave other business-related matters into your course. This is simply because HR is quite a new profession. However, because of this, it does mean that there is plenty of research about the sector's potential to be explored at this level.
You can think of a Doctorate Program as an ideas exchange – a chance to interact with well-respected scholars and your peers on how to ensure that the employee-employer relationship is as harmonious as possible. Although the influence of trade unions has dwindled in recent years, it does remain a strong player in labor relations and is not to be ignored. As such, you'll also evaluate their relevance and impact in our economic climate.
Upon completion of your doctorate, you may decide to continue working in the academic sphere. Your research and classes may include:
- Embracing cultural diversity
- How to implement ethics guidelines and prevent discrimination in the workplace
- Training other HR professionals who work in all sectors, private and public
- Negotiating skills when dealing with trade union disputes
- Analyzing cases where there have been clear breaches of employment law
This can be a very time-consuming route to take, and you should expect fierce competition from fellow students when you're applying. After all, most courses can expect to have dozens of applications, yet class sizes are often no more than 15 in a university research center. On average, Ph.D.s in Human Resources takes four to five years to complete.
Human Resources, Certificate/Diploma
For those who are already working in business, but feel like they need a few extra skills in order to run an office effectively, investing in a Certificate or Diploma in Human Resources can come in handy. There are several of these courses which have been accredited by the Global Negotiation Institute, which would be incredibly assuring to both your employers and colleagues alike. The three main examinations to choose from are:
- Certified Management Professional: This involves creating and implementing programs that offer incentives and perks to employees within the organization you work for. In addition, you also cover health and safety, how to train staff effectively, and helping them along with their personal and professional development.
- HR Manager: Not only do you need strong managerial skills in order to fulfill this role and earn the certification, but it's also important to have a strong grasp of the IT systems which have become commonplace across the industry. You'll also need a firm understanding of how to resolve conflicts and help parties enter negotiations, and be bursting with ideas on how to motivate staff and help them to embrace change.
- HR Executive: After taking the previous two qualifications, you'll be able to flaunt your communication skills. Each of these three courses involves exams with multiple-choice questions, but this one also compels you to write a 5,000-word essay – helping you to show how creative you are.
In some cases, these certifications are only open to those who already have a Bachelor's Degree under their belt – however, the course you took does not have to be related to Human Resources. If you never went to university, two years of experience in a HR role should be sufficient before embarking on a Diploma or Certificate.