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What is Human Resources Management?

Human resources managers typically plan, coordinate, and direct various administrative functions for companies and organizations. They also often oversee processes related to the recruitment of new staff, such as conducting interviews and conducting in-take briefings. These professionals generally function as a link between employees and upper management, but may also consult top executives on strategic planning and worker satisfaction.

Specific responsibilities will vary by position, but some of the most common assigned duties include overseeing employee benefits programs, supervising the work of departmental specialists and support staff, and addressing staff issues through mediation and disciplinary procedures. It’s also not uncommon for these professionals to provide human resources consultations to other managers.

It's important to note that not every human resource manager is responsible for all departmental operations. Those working for larger corporations are likely to specialize in particular aspects of the field, with tasks divided among several professionals at the same level.

Possible areas of expertise within the field include:

  • Compensation and Benefits Managers
  • Training and Development Managers
  • Labor Relations Directors
  • Employee Relations Managers
  • Payroll Managers
  • Recruiting Managers
  • Staffing Managers

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Online Human Resource Management Education in California

Choosing to obtain a degree in human resources management can lead to a wide variety of career opportunities in various industries throughout the state of California. Graduates may qualify for employment in many different industries including business, finance, education, and healthcare. While suitable for most prospective students, those who possess excellent communication and conflict-resolution skills are likely to thrive. Those enrolled can generally expect to learn how to offer solutions for employees in the workplace and graduates often work in standard office settings.

According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), employment for human resources managers is projected to grow 7% from 2021 to 2031. This is about as fast as the average for all occupations and will result in an increase of about 16,300 jobs openings each year.

Outlook for human resources specialists, on the other hand, is slightly better. While these professionals are often subordinate to human resources managers, the occupation is often a great source of entry-level employment for the field. The projected growth rate for human resources specialists over the same time frame is 8%, which is faster than the average for all occupations. This will result in approximately 81,900 job openings each year.

Professional and business services is the second largest industry in California, accounting for $397.3 billion in revenue each year. As most workplaces require individuals skilled in human resources, professionals in this field are also likely to find employment opportunities in many of the state’s other top sectors as well. Graduates may have success applying for positions in manufacturing, real estate, education services, healthcare, retail, finance, wholesale, construction, entertainment, or even utilities.

Based on data provided by the BLS, California employed 24,920 human resources managers and 84,590 human resources specialists in May 2021, more than any other state in the nation. The annual mean wage for these jobs ranged between $81,360 and $154,430. Notably, this is well above the state’s reported annual mean wage of $68,510 for all occupations.

Many colleges and universities in California and throughout the United States offer degrees in human resources management and related subjects. While online programs allow non-traditional students to study from nearly anywhere in the world with internet access, those who plan to work locally may want to give preference to academic institutions within the state. These schools understand regional employment standards, expectations, and requirements best. They also tend to have more established relationships with businesses and organizations in the area, which can make obtaining internships and professional employment easier.

Companies and organizations of every type and size may have cause to hire human resources managers, as well as other related occupations. While many of these professionals work in professional, scientific, or technical services, management and manufacturing businesses are considered top employers in the field as well. Graduates may also have success finding work in healthcare, social assistance, and with the government. The most successful candidates tend to possess good communication, decision-making, interpersonal, leadership, and organizational skills.

It’s important for those interested in human resources management to realize that some level of higher education is generally required for employment in this field. Enrolling in a degree program ensures you have the knowledge and skills necessary to be successful. Most employers in California expect professionals to possess bachelor’s degrees. There are, however, some entry-level employment opportunities available to those with lesser degrees.

Human resources management programs are typically offered by colleges and universities at the associate, bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral levels. In some cases, professional certificates may also be available at the undergraduate and graduate levels. Consider your career goals carefully, as the type of degree you pursue should correlate with your intended profession.

Online Associate Degree in Human Resource Management (AS)

Associate degrees in human resources management generally consist of 60 credit hours of coursework that take full-time students approximately two years to complete. These programs are typically comprised of both general liberal arts and major-specific classes, resulting in a strong academic foundation for future learning and a basic understanding of the human resources field. Students often receive instruction in talent acquisition, labor laws, conflict resolution, and compensation benefits.

This type of degree is ideal for those who plan to pursue entry-level employment in the field. Graduates often spend less time and money when earning associate degrees, especially from community colleges that frequently charge lower tuition rates than traditional four-year institutions. Scheduling options also tend to be more flexible. While this level of education is rarely sufficient to qualify for human resources management positions, other possible employment includes human resources assistants, human resources associates, and administrative assistants.

Graduates can also choose to continue their education by enrolling in bachelor’s degree programs. Undergraduate credit hours earned while pursuing associate degrees can often be transferred and applied towards these programs.

Online Bachelor’s Degree in Human Resource Management (BS)

Bachelor’s degrees in human resources management often consist of 120 credit hours of coursework that take full-time students approximately four years to complete. These programs are also comprised of both general liberal arts and major-specific classes, although curriculums tend to be more intense. Students can expect a strong emphasis on core courses in communication, business, and accounting. Other common subjects include team building, organizational psychology, and conflict resolution techniques.

Many colleges and universities allow bachelor’s students majoring in human resource management to select concentrations.

Some of the most common specialty options available include:

  • Business Administration
  • Healthcare
  • Accounting
  • Data Science
  • Organizational Leadership

According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, most companies and organizations require human resources managers and specialists to possess bachelor’s degrees. Graduates often qualify for a wide variety of jobs across numerous industries, however. Some common opportunities include corporate recruiter, compensation and benefits manager, and training and development specialist.

After graduation, those with bachelor’s degrees in human resources management can also choose to pursue further education by enrolling in related master’s degree programs. Prospective students should be prepared to meet minimum grade point average (GPA) and Graduate Record Examinations (GRE) score requirements set by gaining institutions.

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Online Master’s Degree in Human Resource Management (MS)

Master’s degrees in human resources management generally range from 30 to 36 credit hours of coursework that take full-time students approximately two to three years to complete. Curriculums vary by institution, but are often help students develop specialized skills in the field that can qualify them to pursue more advanced positions. Topics commonly covered include business strategy, organizational change management, organizational ethics, effective team leadership, personnel staffing, and worker evaluation. Other common classes include human resources strategy, organizational culture, and talent management.

This type of degree is ideal for those who plan to pursue advanced employment opportunities within the field. Graduates typically qualify for jobs as compensation and benefits managers, senior human resources managers, labor relations specialists, and human resources information systems managers. While required somewhat infrequently, those who possess master’s degrees in human resources management can expect to receive preference during hiring and promotion processes.

Online PhD Degree in Human Resource Management (PhD)

A PhD or doctorate in human resources management generally consists of between 60 and 120 credit hours that take full-time students up to seven years to complete. Notably, some colleges and universities offer accelerated options that allow students to graduates in as few as four years. Program structure and length varies, but those enrolled can expect to receive intensive instruction in compensation management, foundations of human resources theory and practice, recruiting and retaining talent, organizational behavior and performance, and creating adaptive workplaces. Students should also anticipate conducting independent study and research leading up to defense of written dissertations prior to graduation.

Some programs also allow students to select concentrations at this level. Possible specializations include:

  • Human Resources Management
  • Organizational Management
  • Training and Development
  • Benefits and Compensation
  • Higher Education

As the terminal degree for this career field, professional opportunities and pay potential are more prolific than at previous levels. Graduates typically qualify to pursue advanced careers as postsecondary educators, human resources consultants, and industrial or organizational psychologists.

Become a Human Resource Manager in California

The first step to becoming a human resources manager in California is determining your ultimate career goals. Once you know which profession you are most interested in, identifying the level of education and amount of training necessary to qualify for employment becomes much easier. Becoming familiar with the minimum hiring qualifications for your preferred occupation also ensures you pursue the most appropriate elective courses, minor areas of study, concentrations, and/or internship opportunities.

In addition to meeting education requirements, you may also need several years of related work experience to become a human resources manager. As previously mentioned, most employers expect candidates to possess bachelor’s degrees, but some jobs may necessitate master’s degrees. Undergraduate and graduate courses in subjects related to conflict management are often particularly helpful.

While California does not have specific professional certification and licensure requirements for human resources managers, choosing to pursue additional credentials can prove highly beneficial. Taking this extra step can set you apart from other individuals in the field when applying for jobs, often resulting in more employment opportunities, faster promotion options, and higher pay potential.

The state does not endorse any single credential for human resources managers, but there are many certifications prospective and current professionals may find useful. You should consider the various options carefully before starting any application processes, as most credentials require some time and/or financial investment. Factors to compare when choosing which credentials are right for you include subject matter sustainability, accessibility, learning format, and skills focus. Some of the most popular selections include:

  • Society for Human Resources Management Certified Professional (SHRM-CP) via SHRM
  • Society for Human Resources Senior Management Certified Professional (SHRM-SCP) via SHRM
  • Certified Human Resources Professional (CHRP) via the Human Resources Professionals Association (HRPA)
  • Certified Professional in Learning and Performance (CPLP) via Association for Talent Development (ATD)
  • Professional in Human Resources (PHR) via the Human Resources Certification Institute (HRCI)
  • Talent Management Practitioner (TMP)
  • Strategic Human Resources Leadership (SHRL) via the Human Capital Institute

Many interested in this profession choose to become Society for Human Resources Management Certified Professionals (SHRM-CPs). This is ideal for individuals who perform general human resources and related duties, as well as those pursuing careers in human resources management. As the only certification offered by the Society for Human Resources Management (SHRM), the world’s largest human resources membership organization, it validates expertise in the field and indicates the ability to function at standard operational levels.

Eligibility criteria for this credential include work experience in operational human resources and specialized duties. It’s also recommended that applicants possess basic knowledge of the field. Qualified candidates must also take and pass the SHRM-CP examination, which covers topics in organization, people, leadership, business, interpersonal, and workplace structure. The test is comprised of 80 knowledge-based questions that assess understanding of factual information and 54 scenario-based questions that assess judgement and decision-making skills. It takes approximately four hours to complete and must be taken on a computer.

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Careers for Human Resource Management Graduates

  • Compliance Officer
    Compliance officers are responsible for supervising and handling issues related to legal and regulatory compliance. These professionals often report significant findings to stakeholders, as well as recommend possible changes for improvement. They may also be tasked with ensuring certification and licensing requirements are current. According to PayScale, compliance officers make an average base salary of $71,300 per year.
  • Human Resources (HR) Assistant
    Human resources (HR) assistants are responsible for helping to facilitate various departmental processes, representing their companies, and communicating with employees. These professionals often complete administrative paperwork pertaining to new hires, termination, benefits, and other workplace programs. They may also work to make the department more efficient, use fewer resources, and increase staff satisfaction by suggesting and implementing improvements. According to PayScale, human resources (HR) assistants make an average base salary of $42,650 per year.
  • Human Resources (HR) Manager
    Human resources (HR) managers are responsible for overseeing employee policies, procedures, and compliance for the companies and organizations that employ them. These professionals often implement and manage benefits and initiative programs, while also ensuring all human resources activities comply with local, state, and federal laws. Additionally, they may be tasked with coordinating benefit programs such as flexible work arrangements, maternity leave, open enrollment, sick leave, and vacation time. According to PayScale, human resources managers make an average base salary of $70,250 per year.
  • Human Resources (HR) Specialist
    Human resources (HR) specialists are typically responsible for a single departmental process such as payroll, benefits, training, compensation, recruiting, or customer service. These professionals often work under human resources managers and assist with the daily operations of the department. They may be tasked with answering questions, entering data, and administering benefit plans. Additionally, human resource specialists are sometimes expected to submit employee-related paperwork. According to PayScale, human resources make an average base salary of $53,200 per year.
  • Labor Relations Specialist
    Labor relations specialists are responsible for helping companies and organization to resolve various labor relations matters. These professionals often oversee negotiations processes in accordance with federal government regulations, as well as the creation of collective bargaining agreements. They may also conduct labor relations training, manage data and documentation, participate in investigations, and administer disciplinary action to employees when necessary. Additional tasks can also include hiring new employees and/or maintaining social media accounts. According to PayScale, insurance labor relations specialists make an average base salary of $73,750 per year.
  • Compensation and Benefits Manager
    Compensation and benefits managers are responsible for helping to ensure employee satisfaction with processes related to pay, benefits, and retirement. Working as part of company and organization human resources departments, these professionals verify that all laws and regulations are properly followed. They may also boost awareness of policy changes and benefit package options. According to PayScale, compensation and benefits managers make an average base salary of $88,100 per year.
  • Police, Fire, or Ambulance Dispatcher
    Police, fire, and ambulance dispatchers are responsible for taking and responding to emergency calls. These professionals often match response teams in the area based on who is closest to the crisis and then direct them accordingly. They regularly coordinate with police officers, EMTs, and fire-response workers when addressing life-or-death situations. According to PayScale, police, fire, and ambulance dispatchers make an average base salary of $38,950 per year.
  • Receptionist
    Receptionists are responsible for interacting with clients and customers after entering or contacting a company or organization. They often greet visitors, screen incoming phone calls, take and distribute messages, and inform employees when people arrive for meetings and appointments. It’s also common for these professionals to sign for postal deliveries, as well as schedule or reschedule appointments, and manage calendars. According to PayScale, receptionists make an average base salary of $34,800 per year.
  • Training and Development Specialist
    Training and development specialists are generally responsible for developing multifaceted modern learning solutions, such as instructor-led exercises and online educational programs. These professionals often utilize adult learning theory to create training materials, guides, and presentations, but may also be tasked with evaluating and improving existing materials and training methods. In some cases, they may work with subject matter experts and/or management to assess and meet future development needs. According to PayScale, training and development specialists make an average base salary of $58,500 per year.

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