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Human resource administration (HR) has traditionally been responsible for employee relations and growth, but more and more HR professionals are considered strategic partners in the company’s future. Benefits administration and payroll are still functions within human resource administration. An HR manager may supervise other departments such as training and recruiting. With smaller companies that don’t have specialized departments in these areas, the role may be more general.
It is possible to gain employment in the HR field without a degree, but you probably won’t advance very far. You need at least a Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration or Human Resource Management. Increasingly, human resource administration professionals are gaining Master's degrees and even Ph.D or Juris Doctor (J.D.) legal degrees. Companies are increasingly concerned with liability issues from employees and customers, so knowledge of employment law and litigation is a plus. The more education you have, the more opportunities for advancement and the higher your salary is likely to be.
Courses in business, social and behavior sciences as well as accounting and finance are the core of a human resource administration program. Labor relations and management, along with law and computer systems knowledge will round out your education. Certain types of employers may seek technical specialization, such as in police administration, where knowledge of the issues employees face would assist you in directing departmental policy. Foreign language and cultural studies are a great asset in companies with overseas divisions, and bilingual positions often pay more.
Besides a degree, there are various organizations that offer certification in different aspects of human resource administration on a national and global scale. They usually require an exam following completion of college-level courses. With extensive experience, education and stellar performance on the job, you can ascend to top management or executive positions or even open your own consulting firm. The possibilities are endless, whether you wish to work in employee management, training and development or financial benefits specialties.
Gain job experience in human resource administration by seeking internship programs or work-study while you are still in school. College graduates with certification have the best job prospects. If you aren’t looking for a degreed position, an entry-level HR assistant job is a good start. Depending on the company, you may still be able to work your way up in the HR department. With mergers and acquisitions in business, companies may be willing to train existing employees in newly-opened HR responsibilities or offer tuition assistance in order to retain a valuable worker.