By Sally Alzakin
Demand for human resources professionals is expected to grow much faster than average in the next decade compared to other fields, according to the latest statistics from the U.S. Government Bureau of Labor Statistics. Overall employment in this sector – including human resources, training, and labor relations managers and specialists occupations – is set to grow 22% between 2008 and 2018.
What’s driving this positive picture for HR professionals? The recently passed health care reform legislation will likely increase demand for specialists who can design creative benefits packages for prospective employees. Similarly, “legislation and court rulings revising standards in various areas—occupational safety and health, equal employment opportunity, wages, healthcare, retirement plans, and family leave, among others—will increase demand for human resources, training, and labor relations experts,” according to the BLS website.
The market for training and development specialists will increase faster than human resource managers. With Baby Boomers retiring and jobs becoming more complex, it is expected that job-specific training will see a surge in demand in the coming years.
College graduates and those who have earned certification will have the best HR career growth paths. A bachelor’s degree is a typical requirement for HR jobs, however, the educational path to a career in HR widely varies. Because many colleges and universities don’t offer degree programs in personnel administration, human resources, or labor relations until the graduate degree level, an interdisciplinary background with a combination of courses in the social sciences, business and behavioral sciences is acceptable. Someone without a HR degree or experience could also complement their bachelor’s degree with a certificate in human resources.
HR professionals also have the option of completing several different certification programs, which will likely enhance career growth opportunities. The Society for Human Resource Management offers two levels of certification, including the Professional in Human Resources (PHR) and the Senior Professional in Human Resources (SPHR). Other certification programs are run by the American Society for Training and Development (ASTD), International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans, and WorldatWork Society of Certified Professionals.
Linfield offers an online Human Resource Management certificate where all four HR courses are offered online, making access to an HR education easier than ever.
Sally Alkazin has been teaching HR courses for Linfield College’s Division of Continuing Education for 13 years. She is a member of the Society of Human Resource Management and the American Society for Training and Development.