How to Become a Human Resource Development Specialist

Find out how to become a human resource development specialist. Research the education requirements, and learn about the experience you need to advance your career in human resources. View article »

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Should I Be a HR Development Specialist?

Degree Level Bachelor's degree; some employers prefer a master's
Degree Field Human resources, business, or a related field
Certification Voluntary; Professional in Human Resources certification preferred
Experience 3-5 years of human resource experience
Key Skills Decision-making, verbal communication, team-working, multi-tasking, and presentation skills; detail-oriented; familiarity with Microsoft Office
Salary $63,710 (2015 average for human resource specialists)

Sources: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Careerbuilder.com Job Postings (August 2012)

Human resource development specialists, also called HR specialists, are involved in the training and instruction of employees, as well as the promotion of organizational effectiveness. The duties of HR development specialists revolve around staffing and company policy. They may help conduct surveys of an organization's personnel and utilize their findings to design and implement training and organizational development initiative programs.

Additionally, human resource development specialists may help recruit potential employees, conduct interviews, check references and negotiate salaries. Finding and screening employees may require a specialist to travel frequently. Human resource development specialists handle much of the administrative paperwork for new hires. Once an employee is on staff, human resource development specialists may mediate internal conflicts, institute job training and oversee performance evaluations.

The nature of the job duties require a skill set consisting of decision-making, communication, team-working and multi-tasking skills. Work is typically conducted during normal business hours in a comfortable office setting. Salary potential varies by industry, but the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that, overall, HR specialists earned an average salary of $63,710 as of May 2015. Now, let's explore the steps you can take to enter a career in human resource development.

Find schools that offer these popular programs

  • Human Resources Development
  • Labor and Industrial Relations
  • Labor Studies
  • Organizational Behavior

Step 1: Earn a Bachelor's Degree

The first step in this career path is college. Entry-level HR specialist positions usually require a bachelor's degree in human resource management, human resource development, business or a related field. Human resource management degree programs cover topics such as accounting principles, employment law, microeconomics and human resource management. Meanwhile, human resource development programs often include coursework in adult education and teach you how to identify an employee's training needs and conduct assessments.

During college, be sure to hone your communication and interpersonal skills. Since human resource specialists work with people on a daily basis, being a good communicator is essential to handling disputes or training employees. While in school, students can take specialty communications classes for human resource development specialists, in addition to general communication courses.

Here's a tip for success: join a professional association. Joining a professional human resources organization, such as the Society for Human Resource Management, can give students access to career development and networking opportunities. Check with your school to see if there's a student chapter of the organization on your campus and see if you qualify for reduced membership fees for students.

Step 2: Gain Work Experience

After college, it's time to start gaining work experience. The requirements for HR specialist positions set by employers generally include at least three years of experience in human resources, as well as development and training experience. By accepting an entry-level HR position or even completing an internship, individuals gain work experience while observing the kinds of responsibilities HR professionals handle each day. Working for a smaller company may provide more direct and hands-on experience in many aspects of HR, from benefits administration and payroll functions to recruiting, hiring, training and managing employee relations.

Aspiring HR specialists might also get a foot in the door with entry-level positions as human resources assistants. These positions familiarize workers with employee relations, recruitment and employee law.

Step 3: Earn Certification

While not necessary for employment, certification can provide an advantage over other job candidates and may increase career advancement opportunities. Obtaining HR certification may illustrate to prospective employers that an individual has obtained a specific level of work experience and expertise in HR principles.

The HR Certification Institute offers the titles of Professional in Human Resources, Senior Professional in Human Resources and Global Professional in Human Resources. Eligibility is based on a candidate's years of experience in the field and career goals. The certification requirements include passage of an exam and a minimum amount of professional HR experience, which differs depending on the level of education completed and the type of certification.

Human resource development specialists typically hold a bachelor's degree as well as entry-level experience in human resources and certification can enhance job opportunities.

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