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What is Human Resource Management?

No matter how small or large an organization is, there is always a need to source talent and manage the existing workforce. As such, human resource management is a specialization within the broader field of business careers that requires focused training. Human resource managers are one key to encouraging positive company cultures, setting hiring standards for building a diverse workforce, and ensuring that reasonable compensation is provided for each employee. Employees in this department are crucial to helping set performance management and organizational development goals, as well as employee wellness standards within the firm. Additionally, students interested in building careers in human resource management have many opportunities for crafting their careers so that they can focus on the talent development pathways that most pique their interest. For example, students who study human resource management can focus on becoming benefits specialists or work full-time on improving workforce diversity. Other popular career titles in the human resources management field include entry-level generalist positions, payroll specialist, development and training manager, human resources consultants, recruiters, human resources managers, and human resources directors.

Students looking to achieve a degree in human resource management are people who love working with and helping others achieve their career goals and they are vital to allowing businesses to succeed in the work that they do. As such, many leading community colleges and universities in Alabama offer human resource management degrees and certificates that allow students to work toward building a career in the field. Typically, studies in human resources are offered within a post-secondary institution’s business degree options, with opportunities for students to take electives or specialize. Unlike some roles in business operations, those filling human resources management roles will typically look to ensure that candidates have received specialized HR training since they will be working directly to address the diverse needs of a workforce that can sometimes be spread out across many geographical locations. As such, many Alabama colleges will offer a specific human resources management major option for students interested in entering the field. Human resources management studies focus on educating students on all the skills needed to succeed in the field, including interpersonal and communication skills, and specialization typically will occur on-the-job once students have more of a practical understanding of the field. Alabama, like other states, has plenty of work opportunities in all aspects of human resources management, making this area of study an attractive option of study for business-minded students.

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Human Resources Management Education in Alabama

Associate Degree in Human Resource Management (AS)

Unlike more technical fields, like computer science or data analytics, students in the field of human resources management will be able to find employment even if they have only completed an associate degree in the human resources field. Since human resource positions deal specifically with workers’ needs, employers will generally look for an HR hire’s ability to empathize with the workforce and solve those vital issues, skills that can be acquired through an associate degree program. It is important to note that students with only an associate degree in human resources management will still most likely only be qualified for early entry-level positions, specifically ones like HR assistant or generalist, benefits assistant, assistant recruiters, payroll assistants, and compliance specialist. While there are typically opportunities for career advancement, students with an associate degree in human resources management may find it more difficult to achieve higher-paying job titles than those with more advanced degrees. According to Payscale, the average salary for someone working in the field of human resources management with only an associate’s degree is $48,641 a year.

Bachelor's Degree in Human Resource Management (BS)

The most popular degree for students looking to work in the human resources management field is a four-year, bachelor’s degree, where students will undertake a rigorous program centered on business training and talent management. The majority of upper-level management and CEOs of firms will agree that their company’s employees are one of their most important assets, and the bachelor’s in human resources management degree provides students with the skills to run important HR functions like hiring, benefits management, and helping to set the workplace culture. The vast majority of jobs in the HR field are only open to candidates with a bachelor’s degree or higher, meaning that students can look forward to building careers as human resource specialists, training and development specialists, compensation, benefits, and job analysis specialists, and even labor relations specialists after completing their bachelor’s degree. Eventually, after working in the field for a few years, entry-level hires with a bachelor’s degree have a good chance to gain promotion to managerial HR positions in their field of specialization. According to Payscale, the average annual salary for someone working in the HR field with a bachelor’s degree is $57,860, which is a strong boost from the average earnings for employees in the field with only an associate degree.

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Master's Degree in Human Resource Management (MS or MC)

Obtaining a master’s degree in human resources management or an MBA degree with a human resources concentration is usually not a requirement for entering management in this field. However, students may wish to pursue a graduate-level degree in order to find a job in certain HR specializations, like managing labor relations. Additionally, completing a master’s or MBA degree with an HR focus can in many cases help accelerate an employee’s career and allow them to move quickly into a managerial position compared to working one’s way up by building multiple years of work experience. Other important considerations for completing a graduate-level human resources management degree are the earnings improvements that come with attaining a higher educational degree. According to Payscale, employees who have completed a master’s degree in human resources management earn an average salary of $67,987 a year and those with an MBA in HR Management earn an average of $69,004 a year, which is a strong improvement over employees with just an associate or bachelor’s degree.

PhD Degree in Human Resource Management (PhD)

Very few positions in the HR field will require a candidate to have completed a doctorate in human resources. Typically, those with a Ph.D. in HR will look to focus on building careers in academia as researchers and professors who seek to teach future generations about the newest developments of how to improve talent management in an organization. Others with doctorate degrees looking for a more applied work experience, rather than focusing on HR theory, will typically find employment as high-level HR managers or executives in organizations or take on consulting opportunities to help firms improve their existing HR division. According to Payscale, employees with a doctorate in human resources management will earn an average annual salary of $95,000.

Become a Human Resources Manager in Alabama

While students will most likely pursue a general human resources degree while in school, they should consider their particular interests in the field. Having a clear picture of the specific HR role that interests them can help students pursue more elective courses and internship opportunities while in school to jumpstart their chosen career path. Certification is usually not a requirement for career advancement in the HR field in Alabama but pursuing options like the SHRM-CP and SHRM-SCP Certification can help professionals better understand how to navigate more realistic work situations and signal candidate dedication to future employers. Below is a discussion of the main functional areas of human resources management, which students can use to focus their degrees. All human resources professionals in Alabama are likely to need an education to get into the field, but the state does not require specific certification. Earning certification is a personal choice that can help your career.

  • Staff Recruitment
    HR employees who work in staff recruitment and talent acquisition will need to build strong communication and organizational skills. Usually, a team within the firm will be looking to hire and forward their selection criteria to the HR recruitment team, who will then need to sift through applications and resumes to help hiring managers to choose between the best candidates. Recruitment HR staff will need some familiarity with computer programs like applicant tracking systems, which can streamline the candidate selection and interview management process. Recruiting certifications include aPHR, SPHR, GPHR, SHRM-CP, SHRM-SCP, and more.
  • Employee Benefits
    A large part of what attracts and helps firms retain their talent pool is the employee benefits that are offered. HR specialists working in the benefits field will help firms ensure that their health insurance, retirement account, vacation time, sick leave, family leave, and health care flexible spending account information is correctly conveyed to employees. HR Benefits certifications include CBP, CEBS, etc.
  • Employee Compensation
    Getting paid for their time and work matters to every employee and it is the HR compensation team’s job to help determine the most attractive and reasonable pay package for every job title. CEBS and CBP certifications and some others cover the area of employee compensation.
  • Labor Relations
    HR students looking to work in the labor relations team of a company will need to be strong readers who can understand procedures that affect their organization’s employees, whether or not they are unionized. Written communication on the office’s code of conduct and performing disciplinary action can also fall under this team. Labor relations certifications are available as CLRL certification, CLRP, SHRM, and more.
  • Employee Training and Development
    HR specialists who enjoy helping their firm’s employees feel valued and enjoy growth on the job should look to work in employee training and development. Students looking to work in this field should have strong written and oral communication skills, as well as working knowledge of software and video tools so that they can help circulate important written and video training tools throughout the organization. HR employee training and development certifications include SHRM certification, SHRM-SCP, CPTM, and more.

Top College Programs in Alabama for Human Resource Management

Most of Alabama’s leading online schools offer students the opportunity to specialize in human resources management through their business degree programs. The leading programs in the state can be seen below.

  • Columbia Southern University:
    This large, private, for-profit university located in Orange Beach, Alabama offers a robust human resources management program that graduated nearly 200 students out of 3,000 total business graduates in 2019. The school offers both a general bachelor’s degree in human resources management/personal administration and a certificate in the same subject area.
  • The University of Alabama:
    The University of Alabama is a large, public university in Tuscaloosa, Alabama that is known for providing strong business programs with many options. Its robust human resources management program awarded 145 bachelor’s degrees and 227 master’s degrees in the field in 2019, suggesting that more students come here for its graduate programs. Unlike other Alabama schools, the University of Alabama’s human resources management program is a general degree in Family and Consumer Sciences/Human Sciences.
  • Troy University:
    Troy University is a large, public university located in Troy, Alabama that awarded 102 human resources master’s degrees in 2019. This university only offers a general master’s degree in human resources management/personnel administration and no bachelor’s or certificate options. Of its many business degree options, human resources management is second-most popular after its general business administration and management option.
  • Athens State University:
    Athens State University is a small public university situated in Athens, Alabama with a modest-sized human resources program that awarded 25 bachelor’s degrees in 2019. The school does not offer any certificates or master’s programs in the human resources management field. The university’s accounting and general business administration and management majors are the most popular majors out of its business degree offerings.
  • Auburn University:
    Auburn University is a large, public school in Auburn, Alabama with a human resources program that is relatively small compared to its other business degree offerings. In 2019, 36 students graduated with a bachelor’s degree in a human resources-related field. Auburn offers both a bachelor’s in Family and Consumer Sciences/Human Sciences and Human Resources Management/Personnel Administration.

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Careers for Human Resource Management Graduates

  • HR Personnel Trainer:
    A human resource trainer is an employee that focuses on ensuring employees of a specific department or organization have the tools they need to succeed at their job. Daily job tasks can include assessing the current level of a workforce’s skills, delivering training materials, supervising instructors (both internal and external), and discussing training goals with departmental heads.
  • Compensation Specialist:
    Compensation specialists are responsible for helping to establish a company’s pay structure, differentiate pay grades by employee type, and ensure that employee compensation programs are properly executed. Other job tasks include approving bonus and commission requirements that are submitted by different teams and overseeing a firm’s executive compensation programs. Other tasks include researching competitor pay structures and ensuring that the firm’s compensation programs remain fair and attractive.
  • HR Manager:
    HR managers will take on a variety of roles including hiring new staff, administering pay and benefits programs, and enforcing company policies. Job responsibilities will differ depending on the specific team that the HR manager is hired into, but most positions will require many supervisory responsibilities. HR managers will also need to remain in close communication with the leadership team to understand and execute the firm’s talent strategy, as well as help oversee the daily operations of the HR team.
  • HR Director:
    HR directors are typically tasked with ensuring that the human resources team runs smoothly and adheres to its budget. The HR director will likely need to remain in close contact with the senior-level management of the firm to ensure that they understand the firm’s strategic objectives and the types of talent that need to be hired and maintained. HR directors will also play a large role in helping to set the company culture.
  • Recruiter:
    HR Recruiters are employees who help a firm actively seek out potential candidates and hires for open positions. They will typically be responsible for researching the available applicant pool and even actively extend interview requests. Other responsibilities include screening applicants, interviewing candidates, writing offer letters, conducting reference checks, and negotiating the terms of the hiring contract.
  • Labor/Union Negotiator:
    Many industries allow employees to join labor unions that negotiate with employers on their behalf. HR labor/union negotiators are the other side of that coin and are responsible for creating and maintaining procedures for smooth labor relations within a company. They will often participate in the negotiation of labor agreements and conduct grievance hearings for employees.

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