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Building Your HR Career Path


Are you good with people? Do you have an eye for details but also a keen understanding of the bigger picture? Then perhaps a stroll down the HR career path is for you.

Fundamentally, a human resources manager develops a company's culture, maintains benefits and payroll, and recruits new hires. The HR manager is a pivotal position for any corporation, in every industry. An HR career can offer many exciting choices. HR professionals enjoy a range of career options from recruiting, to training and development, to labor relations and benefits administration.

Understanding Your HR Career Path Options

It is important to understand what your HR career path is and how it works. Two key terms in the human resource management sector are "generalist" and "specialist."

  • HR specialists focus their efforts in a single area, such as recruiting or training
  • HR generalists are less focused and handle a number of areas and tasks simultaneously

As a rule of thumb, small organizations and companies have one or more HR generalists who handle all HR issues. Larger organizations, on the other hand, have many specialists devoted to particular areas and services. A larger organization may also have select HR generalists devoted to managing employee relations.

Charting Your HR Career Path

You can always switch between a generalist position and specialist position. Kathy DeCaprio, a Senior HR Manager, emphasizes that it is always easier to make such moves early in your career. As you spend more time in the industry, your skills and interests will become more fine-tuned and your expertise in certain areas will be valued, so career changes may become more challenging. It is a good idea to explore all possibilities early in your HR career.

Matt Aspin, a board member of the Seattle chapter of the Society of Human Resource Management says that many entry-level positions are in recruiting and administrative roles. "As recruiters," Aspin says, "young HR professionals will most likely be able to interact with HR generalists and decide whether it is something they are interested in."

Career Opportunities for Graduates

After obtaining a human resources certificate, a graduate is qualified for the following positions:

  • Human Resources Clerk
  • HR Assistant
  • Recruiter
  • Training and Development Coordinator
  • Payroll Specialist
  • HR Generalist

A recent graduate with a human resource bachelor's degree may anticipate being placed in the following positions:

  • Human Resources Manager
  • Employee Relations Manager
  • Compensation or Benefit Analyst/Manager
  • HR Information Systems Manager
  • Training and Development Manager
  • Labor Relations Manager

HR Professionals who graduated with a master's degree are qualified for the following positions:

  • Director of Human Resources
  • VP of Human Resources