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What is Human Resources?
Alaska is home to a thriving economy that is diverse and growing. Their economy is led by the mining, quarrying, and oil/gas extraction industry, which ranks 9th nationwide, while generating over $9 billion a year. Other industries that lead the state include transportation, real estate, social services including education and healthcare, and professional services.
Though much of the Alaskan economy ranks at, or near, the bottom nationwide, their population is one of the sparsest. The great Alaskan wilderness may never be tamed, but its economic hubs, such as Anchorage and Fairbanks, have continued to grow and thrive. Given the low cost of living in the Land of the Midnight Sun, tech startups may soon be drawn there for the low operational costs, and remote workers may find it an attractive option when seeking to maximize their healthy paychecks.
A human resources manager is a business professional who focuses on various aspects of employment within an organization. This includes matters such as recruiting new employees, employee compensation, benefits, and various training sessions according to the firm's need. Human resources managers have often spent a number of years working as HR specialists, and so they have the experience needed to oversee a whole HR department.
Given that an HR manager likely has not worked in all aspects of their department, they often return to graduate school for an MBA with a concentration in HR. Once they are up to speed with an academic background that supports their leadership, HR managers are able to better coordinate their teams. They must be aware of certain deadlines for submitting benefits packages, conducting time-sensitive trainings, and generally staying current with any changes to labor laws that might impact their firm.
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Online Human Resources Education in Alaska
With all of this rich economic activity, Alaska relies on its human resources experts to ensure a healthy relationship between employer and employee. Alaskan HR departments are also tasked with attracting talent from both within and outside the state. Thus, the need to develop a healthy population of HR professionals is vital to the Alaskan economy.
To help meet this demand, Alaskan legislators strive to fully fund the state's college and universities. In particular, they fund the business schools and human resources degree programs that continue to feed the Alaskan economy with the professional support it needs. In turn, business schools and HR degree programs strive to fill their faculties with academic professionals that represent the most current research as well as those from the local economy, who provide hands-on experience.
A healthy blend of top-tier scholarly research and hands-on experience is vital to creating the best academic experience for Alaskan students. Alaskan HR professionals with a master’s degree thus are a great choice for undergraduate HR degree programs. They can relay anecdotes about Alaskan rules and regulations that students will find enlightening and helpful when they join the economy as full-time professional workers. Meanwhile, the academic superstars can enlighten students with their expert research and analysis. When both sides inform the other, students thrive and Alaska wins.
Online Associate Degree in Human Resources (AS)
An associate human resources management degree is a terrific way to launch a career in HR. A two-year degree is often enough to land an entry-level position, even if it is a support position. With a two-year degree, savvy workers can build on their experience and degree with professional certifications or a more advanced degree later on.
Those who find a real passion for HR can build on their associate HR degree by returning to college to complete a bachelor’s human resources management degree. Since an associate degree is often far more affordable than going right for a bachelor’s, this progression makes the most financial sense. Those who have already landed entry-level positions at this point may have employers who will provide tuition reimbursement for those final two years. The more expensive credit hours will be in major-specific courses that start at a higher level than the introductory courses provided by a community college.
Online Bachelor's Degree in Human Resources Management (BS or BHRM)
A four-year bachelor’s human resource management degree (BHRM) is perhaps the best launchpad into the field. Employers like to see that their new hires have a strong academic background from an accredited college or university. In fact, a bachelor’s human resource management degree allows students to take special topics courses that dive into areas such as compensation or labor laws. Those courses may end up being the foundation for a focused specialty later.
Naturally, a bachelor’s degree will also allow for time to become more well-rounded in the field of business. Some HR students complement their major degree field with courses in management, accounting, or economics. In fact, a minor that focused on labor economics may be very valuable to a HR manager. Furthermore, a four-year human resource management degree allows students to gain experience as interns with firms in their area or elsewhere. Internships not only help students solidify their long-term career goals, but they also look great on a resume.
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Online Master's Degree in Human Resources Management (MS or MHRM)
Master’s degrees in human resource management (MHRM) are increasingly prevalent in the world of business and finance. Students who earn graduate degrees are often able to rise through the ranks of their firms with healthy raises on top of their promotions There are two general options for a human resources professional: an MS in human resources or an MBA with an HR concentration.
A human resource management master's degree is highly specialized and will surely help anyone rise through the ranks of their organization. However, an MBA may do the same while opening up possible opportunities in the C-suites. Since an MBA includes graduate level work in a general business curriculum, HR managers will have a broader base of business knowledge than those with an MS. On the other hand, some decide to get a dual MBA that combines a graduate human resource degree with an MBA that concentrates on leadership or general management.
Online PhD Degree in Human Resources (PhD)
Though the business community doesn't currently place a high value on a PhD or doctorate degree, that may change. Since master’s degrees are so prevalent, candidates may soon start earning a PhD in order to differentiate themselves from the competition. A PhD can also open up new opportunities in and outside of their business community.
One such opportunity is working in academia. Those who complete their PhD can apply for tenure-track positions in colleges and universities. While it is possible to teach with an MS in human resource management, a PhD is the preferred choice for full-time, tenure-track positions. Further, with a PhD, professionals can teach both undergraduate and graduate students alike, including doctoral candidates.
A doctorate is also a good choice for those who desire work in consulting. Clients like to hire consultants with impeccable credentials, and a PhD will add more credibility to any white paper or service. Firms may also look for a PhD to head up their HR department, but they will also want to see practical experience in the field.
Become a Human Resources Manager in Alaska
Students who aspire to a career in human resources are often those who have taken a hard look at the world of business and discovered that their talents and desires will best fit in an HR department. However, this profession isn't the most visible. After all, there are few HR managers who make the headlines or have films made about them. Thus, students may need a bit of guidance along the way to success in the field.
First off, students need to learn to match their abilities with those needed in an HR department. This may include excellent attention to detail and organizational skills. For instance, during open enrollment for benefits, the HR team will need to make sure each employee receives their appropriate benefits package. Then they'll need to review all of the returned packets and be sure that they are properly filled out. Other skills pertinent to HR include accounting, leadership, and negotiation skills, too.
Though there are not likely to be any specific HR courses in high school, many secondary schools do offer related courses. For instance, many high schools offer introductory business and accounting courses. They may also offer a marketing course aimed at high schoolers. These courses will introduce the world of business to students in a way that helps them make their best decision for business education later on.
During the third and fourth years of high school, students should start looking for the best human resources degree programs available to them. These programs are often found in larger business schools at universities but may also be available through four-year colleges. When a good program is identified, it should not only cover the sorts of topics a student wants to see for their career, such as compensation or employment law courses, but the program itself should hold certain credentials. In particular, the school should at least have CHEA-approved regional accreditation. The business program might also have prestigious credentials from AACSB, ACBSP, or IACBE. Those are program-specific, nationally recognized accreditations that any school or employer will recognize on an application or resume.
Finally, HR professionals should plan to earn certifications in their field. These credentials are often tied in with professional associations that also provide opportunities for continuing education, conferences, and other resources. Certifications always bolster one's chances for a raise or promotions.
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Careers for Human Resources Graduates
- Insurance Claims and Policy Processing Clerks:
Insurance claim and policy processing clerks are at the front line of the insurance industry. They assess the damage done to a claimant for its financial value. They then reach an agreement with the claimant based on the individual case. Policy processors, on the other hand, apply insurance standards for premiums, deductibles, etc. for individual policies.
- Secretaries and Administrative Assistants:
These vital support staff workers are found in nearly every business. They may answer phones, mail out important letters, and generally support the person or persons in their charge. In the past, secretaries and administrative assistants needed to understand shorthand and then take dictation from their boss. They also may need basic skills in programs such as Excel and PowerPoint, on top of word processing abilities.
- Legal Secretaries and Administrative Assistance:
Legal secretaries are in a different category from other secretaries and administrative assistants. They are often trained as paralegals and thus have specific skills in the legal field. Legal secretaries can earn a higher salary based on their knowledge of the law and their experience supporting attorneys. Skills they may need include legal research, drafting briefs and motions, filing proper documents with courts, and more.
- Public Relations Specialists:
Public relations experts are charged with helping to manage the image of a company or individual. Specialists may focus on specific areas of the media in which they aim to help their client. Some will work to promote their client on the internet while others may help prepare their client for a press conference or simply draft press releases to the traditional media.
Non-profit organizations are sometimes able to generate their own revenue, but most rely on donations to stay afloat. Fundraisers thus work to generate revenues from fundraising campaigns and winning grants. They may plan elaborate fundraising parties or orchestrate mass-mailings to inspire patrons to make a tax-deductible donation. To succeed, fundraisers need skills akin to marketing but including event planning, and more.
- Labor Relations Specialists:
In organizations that employ union workers, a labor relations specialist is vital. These labor experts are able to negotiate contracts with union officials and they may also be needed to help settle disputes between labor and management. While they must be well-versed in labor law, labor relations specialists need not be attorneys.
- Lodging Manager:
The hospitality industry encompasses many areas, but lodging is chief among them. Lodging managers may oversee a hotel or motel, but also resorts, where guests come to stay for a night or more. Lodging managers not only oversee the bookings and guest relations, but they need to coordinate their cleaning teams and the groundskeepers, too.
- Compensation and Benefits Managers:
A vital part of human resources is compensation and benefits. Compensation packages need to be negotiated between the company and the professional but then administered by human resources. Compensation packages can include bonuses, annual salary, overtime pay, and special perks such as a company car.