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What to Expect When Working in Human Resources

Image:  working in human resources

Pursuing an HR degree can be very rewarding, but before you embark on that journey you should know what to expect from working in human resources. The human resources department is, in many ways, an intermediary between a business and its employees, so it's a role that requires communication skills, organization and discretion, as well as some knowledge of business administration.

What Do Human Resources Specialists Do?

Those who work in human resources typically are responsible for a variety of duties, including:

  • Recruiting, screening, interviewing, and placing workers
  • Maintaining employee records
  • Selecting and administering employee benefits programs
  • Advising business leadership on employee policies
  • Mediating contract, grievances, and disciplinary procedures between management and employee

While people working in human resources will often specialize in certain areas of the job, it's not uncommon for those pursuing an HR career to perform a broad array of functions. Some areas in which HR employees may specialize include:

  • Recruitment: Focused on screening and interviewing potential employees. This focus often involves traveling to college campuses, attending job fairs, and contacting candidates' references.
  • Placement: Focused on matching qualified people with employers that are seeking talent.
  • Labor Relations: Primarily mediates relationships between labor and management. This often entails addressing specific grievances from employees as well as being involved in the collective bargaining process.
  • Generalists: Have a hand in all aspects of HR work, which may include everything mentioned above as well as things such as payroll, benefits, and training.1

Is a Human Resources Degree Required?

In most cases, a degree in HR, business, or a related field is necessary to land a job in human resources. Pursuing such a degree will typically provide overview of the field with courses in writing, business, accounting, and human resources management. Prior experience in related fields such as customer service can also be helpful when seeking an HR position.1

Is Working in Human Resources a Good Job?

According to Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment for HR specialists is expected to rise 7 percent from 2012 to 2022, though exact growth numbers will differ based on specialty. Median pay for those in this role was $55,640 per year in 2012.1 Employment for HR managers, however, is expected to rise by 13 percent between 2012 to 2022, with median pay in 2012 coming in at $99,720 per year.2

Whether a career in human resources is the right path for you depends on your goals as well as your interests and personality. HR professionals are required to make decisions about employees — decisions that could affect said employees' jobs. HR workers must also be comfortable interacting with people on a daily basis, including mediating disputes between those who work both below and above them — for this reason, strong speaking and listening skills are crucial. A meticulous attention to detail also can go a long way toward helping you be successful in an HR career, since reviewing rules, applications, and employees is a regular function of the job.

Ready to learn more? Explore human resources degrees at AIU.

1 Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, Human Resource Specialists and Labor Relations Specialists, on the Internet at (Visited November 12, 2015)

2 Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, Human Resource Managers, on the Internet at (Visited November 12, 2015)

The presence of specific potential jobs on this list does not guarantee availability of career opportunities. All statistics referenced are national historical averages and the figures in your area and at the time of your job search may be different.