Do You Need a Specific Degree to Work in Human Resources?

To get a human resources (HR) degree or not — that’s the million-dollar question. If working in HR is what you want to do, there are a few different paths you can choose from to get you there. However, you must first ask yourself what you want to do in HR to figure out which path is right for you. The good news is that you can enter the HR field whether you have a doctorate or just a high school diploma. Although, it’s important to note that your opportunities for management are limited the less college education you have.

Here are some things to keep in mind when thinking about entering the HR field.

Types of Degrees in Human Resources

If you’re looking to stay in HR and advance up the company ladder, a degree in HR is helpful. Companies tend to look for people with both a bachelor’s and a master’s degree, especially for management positions. For director positions, companies strongly prefer a candidate with a Ph.D. and/or a Juris Doctor degree. Someone who is well versed in law is greatly appreciated as employment law continues to grow in complexity.

A bachelor’s degree in HR or business management with HR experience can help you get into the industry. However, holding a master’s degree in human resources or labor relations is becoming more common in the workplace, especially for management positions. A minor in data science, information technology (IT), or computer science can also help you, as the need to work with data and digital information continues to grow in the workplace.

Non-College Options For Entering Human Resources

For people who are less interested in the college route, there are programs and certificates available for any level of education. Many schools offer a certificate program in HR or a related field. It’s important to clarify who the program is intended for before you sign up, as some workshops and seminars are geared for people who already have degrees in HR.

An associate’s degree is also an option for people interested in HR. These two-year programs can help you land an entry-level position at a company. Although there aren’t many schools that offer an associate’s degree in HR, it can give you a taste of what HR is and direct you toward a bachelor’s degree.

Different Paths to HR

Another way to enter the HR field is to transfer in from another field. Many people with different degree backgrounds have entered the HR world and thrived. This is mostly seen on the recruiting side of HR. For example, an IT professional may move to a recruiting role inside HR. With their years of experience in IT, they can identify ideal skills in potential candidates easier and more efficiently. Diverse backgrounds bring different experiences and perspectives to the HR department and the rest of the company.

College Degree or Not?

It truly depends on what you want to do. If you’re interested in human resources but you’re not sure if it’s for you, look for a workshop or seminar that explains some broad topics about HR. This way, you aren’t investing too much time and money and can still learn about HR. You can also complete certificate courses that can help you find an entry-level position, but the chances of promotion are slim as companies prefer a four-year degree over experience.

If you’re in college and HR is what you want to do, look to major in human resources or human relations. Also, it’ll be good to choose a minor that will support you in your field, such as data or computer science. Be prepared to complete a master’s degree as well as many companies prefer them for management positions.

An HR department is an important part of every company as it protects both the company and employees from lawsuits and other conflicts. There isn’t a right or wrong answer when it comes to how you enter the HR industry, as it depends on what you’re interested in and want in a career. There are many roles to choose from in HR. Explore all of your options and find what you love.

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