You’ll need at least a bachelor’s degree in Human Resources Managementto gain entry into this highly competitive field. The competition comes from other graduates who are also eager to enter this growing profession. The US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) predicts that Human Resource Managers will grow at 9% through 2024, HR Specialists at 5%, Compensation and Benefits (C&B) Managers at 6%, and Training and Development (T&D) Managers at 7% rate.  The median salary was $104,440 in 2015 with a Bachelor’s degree and an average of 5 years experience.

For comparison, there were 122,500 HR Managers employed in 2014, 482,000 HR Specialists employed with a median income of $58,350 (2015), per the BLS. There were 16,900 employed as C&B Managers in 2014, and 32,900 T&D Managers in 2014. The latter had a median salary of $102,640 and the former was $111,430-both 2015 BLS numbers. These statistics may help you decide on an area of concentration in your HR career path.

Here are potential opportunities to consider with your Bachelor’s degree in HR Management:

Compensation and Benefits Manager: Plan, develop, and oversee programs to determine how much an organization pays its employees and how employees are paid.

Compensation, Benefits & Job Analysis Specialist:  Conduct an organization’s compensation and benefits programs.  They also evaluate position descriptions to determine details such as a person’s classification and salary.

Human Resources Manager:  Plan, direct, and coordinate the administrative functions of an organization. They oversee the recruiting, interviewing, and hiring of new staff; consult with top executives on strategic planning.

Human Resource Specialist: Recruit, screen, interview, and place workers. They often handle other human resources work, such as those related to employee relations, compensation and benefits, and training.

Training and Development Specialist: Training and development specialists plan, conduct, and administer programs that train employees and improve their skills and knowledge.

The majority of HR Management jobs are with corporations. Typically, the greater number of employees equals a larger staff of HR personnel. The next most HR jobs are found in local government agencies, excluding schools and hospitals. As far as geography is concerned, the three states with the most HR Managers, per employed person, are California, New York, and Illinois. The highest concentration of this occupation is in the District of Columbia, Minnesota and Illinois. The highest salaries are paid to HR managers in the north-east states: North Carolina, Virginia, Pennsylvania, NY, Maryland, and up to Maine.

As you gain experience with your chosen specialty in this field, it’s advisable to obtain your Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) certificate. After one year of HR work with a bachelor’s degree, you may apply for your SHRM-CP (Certified Professional). This professional
distinction sets you apart from your colleagues, proving your high level of knowledge and skills.

There is a more advanced certification called the SCP or Senior Certified Professional that has nothing to do with age. This requires a minimum of 4 years in an HR role with an undergraduate degree. SHRM advises that HR professionals who develop strategies, lead the HR function, foster influence in the community, analyze performance metrics, and align HR strategies to organizational goals, should take the SHRM-SCP exam.

Finally, in addition to your HR degree, certification and experience, there are key traits necessary to excel as an HR Manager. Traits such as the ability to multi-task, negotiate, organize, as well as be discrete and ethical. The successful HR Manager must keep abreast of the flux in labor laws and company policies affecting each employee. You will need to remain impartial and objective dealing with sensitive issues affecting another’s employment status. Above all, the HR manager must possess masterful communication skills, both written and verbal. Your mastery of the intangibles will indubitably enhance your career.