Human Resources

Many larger organizations and businesses have found it useful to create an entire division that focuses on only its employees and workers. Though the terms may sound a bit sanitized, this division is known as the human resources department, and human resource (HR) management is an ever-growing focus in the business world.

What Is the Human Resources Department Used For?

Human resource management usually takes over duties such as hiring, firing, training employees, managing payment and benefits, resolving disputes, and addressing individual concerns.

Having a separate unit to deal with an organization’s workforce makes sense for a couple of reasons. First, it is in line with the principles of division of labor, whereby those with specialized knowledge handle that workload. Second, large organizations often find it useful to think of employees and workers as assets, and assets need to be developed. From this perspective, it makes sense for an organization to devote many resources to effectively handling human issues because a developed workforce is a developed asset.

That’s the theory, anyway. Your foundational courses once you start your degree will cover all of that exhaustively. For now, let’s look at how you pursue an education in human resources and what that degree can do for you.

Getting a Degree in Human Resources Management

Many universities will offer a bachelor’s degree, a master’s degree, or even a doctorate in human resources management. It is also possible to earn a certificate or an associate’s degree in the field. Some universities will also offer a general business degree that leaves room for you to concentrate some of your study simply on human resources.

Coursework

Coursework will focus on understanding business in general, but there will also be an emphasis on communications, leadership, and even a bit of psychology. These are all disciplines, after all, that focus on interacting with people, and that’s exactly what human resources departments were designed to do.

Typically, a degree in human resources follows one of two paths: That of an HR generalist, and that of an HR specialist (specializing in, say, workforce diversity). Managers and business strategists will argue endlessly as to whether it is better to hire generalists or specialists, but understand large companies and organizations will probably hire both.

The generalist path opens you up to a broad set of opportunities, and the specialist path will allow you to zero in on an aspect of HR you find particularly fascinating. If you want to specialize, you can simply follow a track of courses that touch on what you want to study (e.g. the effects of an aging workforce, sexual harassment in the work place, pension schemes).

If you want to move into a management position, particularly if you seek to become a specialist, it would be wise to pursue a master’s degree, where you can elaborate and present a thesis on your specialty.

Skills to Develop

This is a profession suited to anyone who could be described as a people person. If you work well with others, communicate comfortably and effectively, and have a desire to help other people solve problems, you could do well in human resources.

Moreover, you will want to develop a strong business acumen and get a good foundational understanding of management. Here is where the psychology courses come in: You will need to understand what motivates people, you will need to understand the concerns of others with a professional sympathy, and you will likely also need to be able to fire someone.

Job Outlook

According to the US Burueau of Labor and Statistics [http://www.bls.gov/ooh/Business-and-Financial/Human-resources-specialists.htm], the job outlook for HR professionals is very good, and employment should grow by about 21% through 2020. The employment services industry is one area that will see a great deal of growth, but plenty of private firms, corporations and public organizations will have a need for HR professionals going forward.

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