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Human Resources Job Outlook: A Definitive Guide

Posted by Glassdoor Team

Career Advice Experts

Last Updated June 29, 2021

Guide Overview

What is the role of a human resources professional?What is the projected growth for the human resources profession?How to start a human resources careerCareer paths in human resourcesAre there opportunities for advancement?

Guide Overview

Understanding the job outlook of human resources jobs

A career in human resources can be rewarding and provide an opportunity to work in diverse industries. Human resources professionals help organizations hire and train new staff, implement employee development programs, and manage payroll and employee-management relationships. Knowing about a human resources job outlook, including the projected growth, demand, duties, and salary, can help you determine whether it is the right profession for you. We will explore the outlook of the human resources profession, going into the growth statistics, job competition figures, salaries, and some tips on how to break into the field.  

What is the role of a human resources professional?

Human resources professionals manage the most important resource available to any organization: employees. Without employees, the organization cannot exist, which is why HR managers are so vital to the success of a company. Some responsibilities of an HR manager include:

  • Recruiting and hiring employees
  • Organizing training and development programs for employees
  • Developing employee compensation and benefits packages
  • Resolving employee conflicts and ensuring management and staff have a cordial relationship

Human resources management ensures that the company workforce is highly skilled and performs optimally. That is why a key part of HR is attracting top talent to the company and developing the skills of the existing workers. As a human resources manager, you must understand the link between human capital and business performance. When employees perform well, the company experiences positive growth. The role of the HR professional can vary according to a company’s size. In smaller organizations, an individual may be responsible for all HR responsibilities. However, bigger companies place a premium on specialized knowledge, since it spurs better results. They often hire different people to handle various areas of the HR job. For example, a company may have

  • A benefits manager that handles salaries and incentives for employees;
  • A training and development manager to plan skill development programs for employees; and
  • A recruitment manager to hire new workers.

What is the projected growth for the human resources profession?

If you have always wanted a high-demand profession, a career in human resources will likely suit you. According to data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the human resources profession has above-average job growth

Usually, the BLS releases a 10-Year Outlook that details projected demand growth for specific professions. Here are the projections for different sectors in the human resources industry:

Training and development managers

The BLS projects demand for training and development managers to grow by 10%. This is above the average for all professions (7%). 

Human resources managers 

The BLS projects demand for human resources management to grow by 6%.

Human resources specialists 

As with other human resources professionals, human resources specialists will have some growth in demand for their services. The BLS projects a growth rate of 7%, which is about the same as other professions. 

While the job outlook for human resources is great, your odds of landing a job depend greatly on your qualifications and skills. For instance, the BLS notes that individuals with advanced degrees and certifications have higher chances of landing top human resources jobs.

Also, where you live and work may affect your prospects of getting an HR job. Here is a list of the US states that have the highest employment figures for HR professionals:

  • California
  • New York 
  • Illinois
  • Texas
  • Massachusetts

Apart from your qualifications and location, your employer also plays a significant role in your earning potential. Some industries, such as tech, pharmaceuticals, healthcare, engineering, and defense typically pay higher salaries than others. Your overall job duties can also affect your salary.

How to start a human resources career

The most common entry-level job in HR is the human resources assistant.

Most HR jobs demand a level of educational qualification and professional experience from applicants. You will need a degree in human resources, labor relations, business administrative, management, or related fields to get you started.

One major hurdle to finding a human resources job is a lack of experience, especially for recent graduates. There are many ways to accumulate professional experience before you graduate from the university. You could try applying for:

  • Internships
  • Part-time jobs
  • Temporary positions
  • Volunteer work (for example, you served as HR for a non-profit)

Once you have proved your skill as an HR assistant, you may advance to any of these higher HR positions:

  • Recruitment manager 
  • Payroll manager 
  • Staffing manager 
  • Administrator 
  • Human resources manager 

As you gain job experience, you will be able to apply for higher roles in the human resources industry. Besides the requisite experience, a company might also need you to have specific certifications and be proficient in any software tools that it uses to help you perform your duties effectively. 

Career paths in human resources

Within the HR profession, there are two broad career paths: 

  • General HR 
  • Specialized HR  

General HR management 

As the name suggests, general HR professionals dabble into all areas of human resources management. They recruit, hire, train, and develop workers. They are also responsible for creating compensation packages and other related personnel policies. Human resources management have to ensure that the organization’s activities abide by employment laws. 

General HR professionals are common in small to medium-size organizations. Because they can handle various duties, the company can save itself some costs. 

Some general HR job positions include:

  • Human Resources Manager 
  • Human Resources Assistant 
  • Chief Human Resources Officer 

Specialized HR management

Specialist HR professionals tend to focus on one part of the HR industry. Usually, larger organizations will hire them if they have enough money to spend on hiring different HR professionals for different tasks.

Unlike their general counterparts, HR specialists have a lot of expertise in niche areas like workforce management, labor relations, risk management, and human resources development. 

Common specialized HR professional positions include:

  • Retention Specialist
  • Safety Officer
  • Labor Relations Manager
  • Risk Management Specialist
  • Benefits Analyst
  • Compensation Specialist

Are there opportunities for advancement?

Human resources has many avenues for upward movement, both in terms of responsibilities and remuneration. But, while breaking into the human resources field may be somewhat easy, advancing can be difficult, like with many other professions. Here are ways to advance in the human resources profession:

Earn professional certifications

First, you have to earn professional certifications to show your skill to potential employers. The Society of Human Resources Management offers different certifications that a company may require for advanced HR jobs. 

Get advanced education

Second, you might need to earn a master’s degree in areas like human resources or labor relations. A bachelor’s degree is enough to get into the HR scene, but you will have to get higher educational qualifications to move up the career ladder. Some senior roles not only require a lot of experience but also an MBA or even a doctorate degree.

In specialized industries, such as medicine or engineering, senior human resources professionals may need to have advanced degrees in the employer’s field. This is because hiring managers need to have a background in the company’s operations to be able to hire, train, and retain the best talents possible for the organization. 

Master technical tools

Third, you have to master technical tools, especially software, that will simplify your HR activities. The most important of these is the Human Resources Information Software. You might also need to learn and become proficient in accounting tools, project management applications, and other related tools you will need to perform your job effectively as a human resources professional. 

The HRIS is designed to help HR professionals with the following:

  • Data entry 
  • Data tracking 
  • Payroll management 
  • Business management 
  • Accounting 

Employers often require HR managers to display their mastery of HRIS and other HR management tools. So, learning how to use them is important. They may also need to be experts at conflict resolution, negotiation, and financial reporting. 

Keep up with industry trends

Fourth, you have to keep up with the latest trends and developments in the HR industry. This involves reading any news on the changes to employment law and rules that guide benefits and remuneration. 

If you can do these things, you will have an easy time finding upward mobility in your human resources job. You’ll be able to master new skills and also command a better pay package.

The human resources industry offers flexibility, very high pay, and a chance to impact individuals and organizations meaningfully. Use this guide to learn about the human resources job outlook so you can decide if it is the right career path for you.

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