What’s the Best Degree Path to Become a Human Resources Manager?

Do you interact well with others? Are you a good leader and feel confident making decisions? A career as a human resources manager could be the perfect fit for you. These professionals oversee the administrative aspects of a business or organization, including:

  • hiring employees
  • handling employee services
  • developing company policies

Human resource management is one of the top 10 highest paying degrees in business. Experienced professionals at top firms earn up to $96,130 annually. The first step to attaining a position as a human resources manager is earning a college degree.

College Degrees in Human Resources Management

College degree programs in human resources management exist at both the undergraduate and the graduate level. For most human resource management positions, only a bachelor’s degree is required, according to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Naturally, a bachelor’s degree in human resources is a popular choice among aspiring human resource managers. Undergraduate degrees in business administration, too, are solid options for this career path. Whatever major you pursue, you should be sure to take courses in subjects that will help you succeed as human resource managers, such as:

  • industrial psychology
  • finance
  • labor relations
  • information technology
  • organizational development

For human resources managers looking to advance their careers, especially in prestigious firms, it may be necessary to earn a graduate degree in the field. Popular degree options for graduate students include a:

  • Master of Science or Master of Arts in Human Resources
  • Human Resources Management
  • Master of Business Administration degree
  • Master of Labor or Employment Relations degree.

Beyond a College Education

As the job title implies, the role of human resource manager is not an entry-level position. Most human resource managers have years of relevant work experience. Human resources managers come from various work backgrounds. Employers often prefer candidates who have worked in some capacity with a human resources department, perhaps as:

  • a human resource specialist
  • a labor relations specialist
  • a compensation and benefit manager

Candidates have an advantage if  they:

  • know relevant employment laws
  • have experience handling compensation and benefits plans
  • have experience using Human Resources Information Systems

Aspiring human resources managers can also earn certification from a professional organization such as the HR Certification Institute or the International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans.

In addition to the high earning potential, human resource managers also enjoy a positive job outlook. Over a decade, the BLS expects career opportunities in human resource management to increase by 13 percent. This is faster than the 11 percent job growth anticipated for all occupations.

There is  good salary potential and expected job growth. There is a comparably low stress level and opportunity to improve the workplace for employees. All these make the job of human resource managers rewarding. In fact, these and other factors have led numerous publications, including U.S. News & World Report, CNN Money, Money Magazine and Salary.com, to rank human resources manager among the top jobs in the nation.

Brenda Rufener
Author

Julie McCaulley
Expert

Carrie Sealey-Morris
Editor-in-Chief