Human Resource Specialists
|Recommended Degree Level||Bachelor|
|Number of Jobs, 2012||0|
|Annual Job Growth Rate||3.4%|
|Job Openings per Year (est.)||16,530|
- Most employers hire individuals who have a four-year bachelor's degree in human resources or a related field for specialist positions.
- If you want to pursue advancement opportunities, you may need to earn an Master in Arts (M.A.) or MBA.
What you study:
When pursuing your HR degree, you'll study all of the following:
- Human Resources Best Practices
- Personnel Management
- Employment Law
- Organizational Behavior
- Basic Statitistics
A Day in the Life
As an HR specialist, your day begins when the office where you work opens. Depending on where you work, you may be known as a specialist, supervisor or HR coordinator. When you get to work, you check in with your boss to see if there are any issues that need your immediate attention. There are no pressing employee questions to address, so you head to your cubicle to review your emails and listen to your phone messages.
You've received an email from your company's insurance provider alerting you to a problem with an employee enrollment form. You review the form and identify the issue. It's your job to ensure that benefits administration tasks are taken care of in a timely fashion, so you head to that employee's office to sort out the paperwork and ensure that she will be enrolled in the insurance plan for the upcoming quarter.
Your company is looking for a new receptionist, so when you return to your desk you begin reviewing resumes and helping the hiring manager set up interviews with promising candidates. When the new receptionist starts, you'll be responsible for having him fill out all necessary paperwork and will establish an employee file.
Throughout the day, you file paperwork that you've received in employee files. Right after lunch, the company's vice president wants to review an employee's file to determine if she is eligible for a pay raise. You take the file out for him and remind him that it will need to be returned to you before the end of the day. Keeping the files in a secure location is one of your most important administrative duties.
During the afternoon, you work on updating your company's employee handbook to ensure that it is in line with new labor laws. When the update is done, you'll be responsible for making sure that every employee receives a copy of any policies that have changed. You also take calls throughout the afternoon and direct them to the appropriate person in your department. You screen calls for the director of HR, who simply doesn't have time to speak with every vendor who calls your office. At the end of the day, you check in with your boss and lock up your filing cabinets before heading home.
Certifications and Licensing
No licensing is needed to work as an HR specialist. However, many professionals in this field pursue certification through the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) or the National Human Resources Association (NHRA). Certifications in particular areas, such as employment law or benefits administration, can be helpful in a competitive job market.
Full-time versus part-time:
Almost all HR specialists work standard, full-time schedules. Depending on where you work, you may receive paid vacations and holidays.
Advancement opportunities are excellent for talented HR professionals who want to move into management positions. Your chances at advancement will improve as you gain more education and real-world experience in this field.
- Professionals in Human Resources Association: The PIHRA website provides a wide variety of education resources to professionals in this field. Individuals who are just beginning their HR careers will benefit in particular from the career section of the site, which offers job listings and job outlook information.
- U.S. Department of Labor Occupational Outlook Handbook for Human Resources Specialists: The Bureau of Labor Statistics compiles and publishes a wealth of data about careers in the field of HR. Students who are interested in becoming HR specialists will find information about job outlooks, training and career advancement prospects on this site. Because most of the information is statistical in nature, it's also important to consult more qualitative sites.
- Society for Human Resource Management: Designed for leaders in the field, SHRM provides educational and employment law resources that will be useful to both experienced and novice HR specialists. The site also provides students with the ability to connect with mentors.
- National Human Resources Association: The NHRA website is geared primarily towards association members who want to access information about conferences and training opportunities. Students who can join NHRA through their schools may be interested in doing so in order to gain access to a wealth of job and internship listings.