Understanding Human Resource Management Degree Options
If you have ever applied for a job then you likely did so through the human resource (HR) department of the company and interacted with someone engaged in human resource management (HRM). HRM is an interesting vocation. HRM integrates psychology with business in seeking to select and match employees with jobs where they will likely be the most satisfied and productive. The business aspect of HRM involves the various personnel functions such as managing paperwork, ensuring compliance with workplace legislation, and overseeing the administration of salaries and benefits for employees.
The Occupational Outlook Handbook (2010-11) published by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports strong growth in job opportunities across occupational categories in HRM. Projections of growth include a 22% increase in employment demand over the next ten years. Opportunities are expected in large firms, firms that focus on training (i.e. learning organizations), and firms that provide consulting or contract HR services.
The ability to enter the HR field requires academic training and certification. Certification is provided through the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) and the American Society for Training and Development (ATSD). Certification includes specialty areas such as compensation management, diversity compliance, and performance analysis. HR personnel can receive professional certification such as Professional in Human Resources (PHR) or Senior Professional in Human Resources (SPHR). Both designations require a minimum of experience and knowledge and the successful completion of an exam.
The first step in becoming an HR professional is to obtain a relevant undergraduate degree. The BLS reports that many universities do not offer majors in HRM at the undergraduate level. Rather, students may need to major or minor in related areas like psychology, social science, or business specializations such as business administration, general management, and technology management.
Most formal degrees in HRM are at the graduate level. The degree options include the Masters of Human Resource Management (MHRM). HRM can be a specialty within a Masters of Science (M.S.) or Masters of Business Administration (MBA) program. Graduate degrees in HRM often allow for interdisciplinary study such as in business law, organizational psychology, and interpersonal relationships. The BLS predicts that executives holding MBAs and specialties in HRM will be in high demand in the near future.
HRM degrees are available in doctoral programs. Those pursuing doctorates in HRM typically work in higher education or research.
The projections of the BLS are that employment opportunities in HRM-related occupations will grow over the next ten years. Those seeking to work in the field need to pursue as much training as possible in order to gain the advantage over competitors when job opportunities become available.