Human resources is a larger field than many people realize, encompassing all aspects of attracting, training, retaining and relating with an organization’s employees. You might be surprised to see how many different job roles you could hold with a human resources degree. Some of these occupations are in high demand, seeing faster than average job growth, while others are growing at only average or below average rates. The demand for your HR degree will depend on your level of education – associate’s, bachelor’s or master’s – as well as your internship and work experience, your skills and any professional certifications you attain.
Job Growth in Human Resources Specialist Roles
Within human resources and related occupations, there are numerous job functions which see different rates of job growth. For HR generalists, personnel recruiters and other kinds of HR specialists, the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) is predicting a seven percent increase in job opportunities over a decade. That anticipated growth rate lines up with the BLS’s prediction for job growth across all occupations, but it’s slightly lower than the nine percent growth rate expected for occupations in the category of business operations specialists. However, due to the occupation’s large size, that modest growth rate should translate to 38,900 new jobs.
Not all HR roles have “human resources” in the job title. Training and development specialists have some of the best career prospects among business operations specialists at the moment. The BLS expects job opportunities in this occupation to increase by a much faster than average rate of 11 percent, though because this occupation employs fewer workers than HR specialist does, this will only add up to 32,500 new jobs. The even smaller occupation that encompasses compensation, benefits and job analysis specialists is likely to gain just 7,200 new jobs, despite growing at a rate of nine percent, the BLS reported.
The job outlook for some HR positions is less positive. The BLS expects occupations for labor relations specialists, who act as intermediaries between employees in labor unions and company management, to decline by eight percent. Due largely to a decrease in labor unions, 6,300 established workers could soon be out of jobs – which means the competition for new graduates who want to enter the field will be strong.
The two industries that employ the most human resources specialists are the employment services industry, which includes staffing agencies and recruitment firms, and consulting firms that are part of the professional, scientific and technical industry, the BLS reported.
Career Outlook for HR Management Positions
Moving up into a management role can increase your salary – often, with median wages in the six-figure range – but what about your job prospects? While there are naturally fewer managers than there are employees for them to supervise, some HR manager roles are seeing above-average growth rates. Human resources managers, including those with job titles like employee relations managers, payroll supervisors and recruiting or staffing managers, should see job opportunities increase by nine percent, or 12,300 new jobs, the BLS reported. For training and development managers, a faster than average 10 percent growth rate should result in 3,600 new jobs, while roles for compensation and benefits managers are expected to grow by only five percent, or 800 total new jobs.
Surprisingly, the predicted growth rate for all operations specialties manager careers is higher than that for non-managerial business operations specialist occupations, at 12 percent compared to just nine percent.
The Demand for HR Degrees and Certification
Not all HR jobs are seeing rapid job growth, and even in the occupations with the highest growth rates, there is plenty of competition for each position. The BLS reports that a bachelor’s degree is generally the education required for jobs in the field of human resources. Earning this degree is necessary for most HR jobs, and since other job candidates will have the same degree, it won’t help you stand out from the competition.
What can boost your career prospects is attaining professional certification from an organization such as the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) or the HR Certification Institute (HRCI). Gaining certification can benefit HR workers at all levels, from entry-level human resources specialists to senior-level human resources managers, the BLS reported. If you want to rise to a management role, pursuing your human resources master’s degree or graduate certificate can help. Of course, you still need a good deal of work experience to become a manager, and earning certification can also be beneficial.
If you’re committed to going into a field with less than ideal job growth, like labor relations, consider choosing a specialized degree and gaining as much work experience as possible – but make sure your degree is versatile so you can get other jobs if needed.