What Is Human Resources and Why Is It A Good Academic Option?

Published on: October 23, 2023

No matter the size of a business or organization human resources, or HR, is an important aspect. For a business to succeed it is vital that the employees perform at their best and any conflict is resolved quickly and fairly. Many people still think that the job of HR is simply to hire and fire employees, but there is a lot more to this occupation. Here is a closer look at this occupation for students wondering what exactly human resources are and if it might be a good academic option to pursue.

What Exactly Is Human Resources?

Human Resources is a department within an organization that is tasked with handling matters related to employees. This can include the recruitment and selection of new employees as well as overseeing their training and development. Human Resources also deals with employee concerns and making sure that they are in compliance with the laws and regulations of the organization. In addition, HR is responsible for keeping employee records and handling things like schedules, benefits, and time off. In short, without proper HR an organization can end up suffering from poor hiring practices, offering subpar benefits to employees that lead to low commitment and negative employer branding as well as toxic work environments.

What Are The Benefits of Working In Human Resources?

You Get To Work With People - Working in HR means working closely with people as you’ll be the liaison between the management of an organization and the workforce.

There’s Room For Growth - There are various functions within a Human Resources department, which not only allow you to find your niche but also to advance your career. Experience, certification, and higher qualifications can lead to higher-level positions and the possibility of advancing to other leadership roles if desired.

You Help The Organization Grow - Working in human resources not only allows you to contribute to your own growth and that of the employees but also the organization as a whole. Whether through recruiting top talent or providing employees with development opportunities your actions can directly impact the overarching goals of the organization.

Improved Career Stability - The job market can be very volatile for certain occupations and many occupations are at risk due to automation, but there will always be a need for HR. Technology can be used to improve productivity, but many duties performed by HR still require the interpersonal abilities of a human.

Competitive Salaries - The skills of HR professionals are in demand as employers know the value that they can bring to their organization. This means that salaries are very competitive in this field, especially in certain sectors. In addition, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the employment of human resource specialists also has faster than average projected growth compared to other occupations ().

Your Days Are Never The Same - Because HR faces so many different challenges it also means that your days will rarely be exactly the same. This is great for people who enjoy it if their job offers variety and helps them to stay engaged as they get to make use of their problem-solving skills.

What Are The Best Degree Options For Working In Human Resources?

Associate of Science in Human Resource Management

An Associate of Science in Human Resource Management degree is a great way to gain foundational human resource generalist knowledge and prepare for entry-level positions in the field. This type of degree typically takes about two years to complete and can be used as a stepping stone for completing a bachelor’s degree in HR. Core topics may include Organization Behavior, Leadership and Management, Human Resource Administration, and Foundations of Business Law. Associate of Science in Human Resource Management degrees are available fully online and can lead to career opportunities such as human resource manager, HR information systems manager, training and development specialist, talent acquisition specialist, and more.

Bachelor of Science in Human Resource Management

A Bachelor of Science in Human Resource Management degree can help people with no professional experience to enter the HR industry or assist those with associate’s degrees to advance their careers. This type of degree typically takes about four years to complete and can be done entirely online. It equips students with the knowledge of essential HR functions such as workforce planning, useful metrics, and applicable laws. Core topics may include Human Resource Administration, Labor and Employment Law, Training and Development, and Employee and Labor Relations.

Master of Science in Human Resource Management

A Master of Science in Human Resource Management degree is aimed at people who either want to switch to HR after gaining professional experience in other fields or those already working in HR who want to take their career to the next level. Course topics may include Foundations of Human Resource Management, Organizational Systems and Change Management, Compensation and Benefits Strategies, Global Human Resources, and more. This type of degree can take between 16 and 24 months to complete.

Are There Any Certifications in Human Resources?

In addition to the degrees in HR, there are also a few professional certifications available for students to pursue. These certifications are a great way for HR professionals to showcase their up-to-date knowledge of best practices in the industry.

Professional in Human Resources (PHR) Certification - This certification by the Human Resource Standards Institute is aimed at people with a Master’s degree or higher and experience in the HR industry. It is valid for three years after testing ().

Society for Human Resources Management (SHRM) Certified Professional Certification - This certification is aimed at individuals in the HR industry whose duties tend to be specialized instead of general ().

Certified Human Resources Professional (CHRP) - This certification by the Human Resources Professional Association is aimed at people who want to validate their knowledge of HR, their workplace readiness, and their commitment to career-long learning ().


Human resources can be a good career path for those who love working with people and want to enjoy job satisfaction as well as great earning potential. The degree options and certification programs mentioned above offer good starting points to enter the industry or grow your career, but as always there are plenty of other options available.

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