Human Development: Education for a Human Resource Development Career

Apr 09, 2021

Human resources are the people who work for an organization or business. Employees who work in a human resources division are involved with the hiring, training, and compensation/benefits for other employees. This article details three careers in human resources - specialists, managers, and assistants - and the educational requirements to find employment in the field.

Essential Information

Most prospective human resource (HR) professionals receive a 4-year college degree in human development, human resources, business, liberal arts or a similar field. Many colleges offer classes or entire programs for these types of degree online. In some cases, internships may be required for program completion. An undergraduate degree program is sufficient preparation for several careers in human resources development, though some positions may require a graduate degree.

Career Title Human Resource Specialist Human Resource Manager Human Resource Assistant
Education Requirements Bachelor's degree in human development, business or similar field Bachelor's degree in business or human resources; some positions require master's degree in related field High school diploma or associate's degree; on-the-job training
Projected Job Growth (2019-2029)* 7% 6% -5%
Median Salary (2020)* $63,490 annually $121,220 annually $43,250 annually

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Career Options

Human Resource Specialist

Human resource specialists handle the recruitment processes for a company, which typically includes hiring and setting up training for personnel. They also assist employees with matters such as payroll and health benefits, as well as employee relations and management practices. This career typically requires a bachelor's degree in human development, business or a similar field. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported that from 2019 to 2029, this career field is expected to see a 7% increase in job openings. The median annual income for HR specialists was $63,490 as of 2020, according to the BLS.

Human Resource Manager

Like human resource specialists, human resource managers may also oversee the recruitment processes for new employees, which may include conducting interviews. They also confer with management, acting as a link between them and other employees within the company. HR managers typically must have several years of human resource experience, in addition to a bachelor's or master's degree in business or human resources. From 2019 to 2029, HR management positions are expected to grow by 6%, according to the BLS. The median annual income for HR managers was $121,220 as of 2020, per the BLS.

Human Resource Assistant

Human resource assistants work for human resource specialists by providing office support. They may maintain personnel records, assist with job postings, and review applicants' resumes. Typically, a high school diploma or associate's degree is required for this position, along with some on-the-job training. The BLS reported that job growth is expected to decline by about 5% from 2019-2029, since many companies now use online applications for many administrative functions. According to the BLS, the median annual income for HR assistants was $43,250 annually as of 2020.

What Degree Is Needed for a Human Resources Career?

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), most human resource professionals hold a bachelor's degree in business, liberal arts or a field relating directly to HR ( One major that may be useful for those seeking employment in an HR field is human development. This field covers child, adolescent and adult behavioral and psychological progression as well as how individuals relate in family or group dynamics. These programs last four years and may require an internship. Some classes, if not entire programs, may be available online.

Another option is a baccalaureate program for human resource development. Although the structure and scheduling is similar, these programs focus more specifically on the business environment; courses might address public speaking, team relations and organizational theory. Students learn how to evaluate outcomes, measure the progress of implemented systems and facilitate improvement. They study communication and leadership techniques for building and maintaining effective partnerships among people who work together toward a common end.

Armed only with a high school diploma or an associate's degree, human resources assistants document and file information on past, present, and future employees for human resources specialists and managers. However, as digitally automated filing and screening programs improve, people searching for a career in human resources will need to turn to higher education. HR specialists and managers generally hold bachelor's degrees.

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