Career Advancement in Human Resources

Human resources professionals, who may have in-depth knowledge of employer/employee relationships, have many opportunities to advance their career. Some options may include management, law, or training.

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Career Growth Options for Human Resources Professionals

Human resources professionals play an important role finding and hiring employees for positions, managing compensation and benefit programs, and assisting corporations with employee relations problems. These skills are highly transferable to grow into other positions focusing on the relationship between the employee and employer. Some examples are detailed below.

Job Title Median Salary* Job Growth (2016-2026)* Education Requirements
Human Resources Manager $110,120 9% Master's Degree and/or Professional Certification
Attorney $119,250 8% J.D. Degree
Arbitrator $60,670 10% Master's or J.D. Degree
Training Specialist $60,360 11% Related Work Experience and/or Professional Certification

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS)

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  • Human Resources Development
  • Labor and Industrial Relations
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Career Information

Human Resources Manager

A human resources employee may wish to advance their career by becoming a manager of human resources. HR managers oversee their departments and are responsible for hiring and firing of employees. They typically consult with other upper-level managers in a company, ensure compliance with employment laws, and develop appropriate compensation strategies. Typically, individuals move into these positions with experience in other human resources positions. However, a master's degree or certification through professional organizations, such as the Society for Human Resources Management, may be helpful in seeking human resources manager positions.


Human resources professionals may consider expanding their career possibilities by becoming a labor and employment attorney. These attorneys deal with the relationships between employers and unions or individual employees. They represent the parties in negotiating contracts or in disputes that might arise due to the employment relationship. The amount of compensation, including wages and benefits, is a common topic in these disputes. Labor and employment attorneys may also consider issues of discrimination, workplace safety, and worker's compensation. Labor and employment attorneys may work at a law firm, for a corporation as an in-house attorney, or for the government. To become an attorney, one must attend law school, earn a J.D., and pass the bar exam of the state where the practice will be located.


Human resources specialists may wish to further their career as an arbitrator. Arbitrators are impartial parties. They work with the two entities embroiled in a dispute to help them come to an agreement or reach a compromise. They meet with the parties involved to understand both perspectives, help the parties to come to an agreement, and draft the settlement agreement for the parties to sign. Arbitrators are frequently used in employment disputes, often because there is a collective bargaining agreement or portion of the employment contract that requires arbitration. As human resources professionals have strong knowledge of contracting between employers and employees, their expertise is useful in these cases. Arbitrators typically have some kind of graduate degree, such as a J.D. or a master's degree.

Training Specialist

One specialized area of employee services that a human resources professional may wish to consider is becoming a training and development specialist. These professionals work in a wide range of industries to train employees in various functions of their jobs. They study data to understand in which areas employees need further training; design programs to meet these needs; and then present the programs. They may also help to develop training manuals or other educational documents. Some may design on-line programs to address training needs. Training and development specialists typically have a bachelor's degree and experience in training or in the industry. Professional certifications are also available.

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