Is Human Resources a Good Career for You?

If you’re like most employees, on any given day, you’re probably not thinking about your human resources department. But rest assured: Your human resources department is most certainly thinking about you.

Fair or not, human resources (HR) has long had the forbidding reputation for being the office you never want to get an unexpected summons from. But if you look beyond the basics of hiring and firing, you’ll find a diverse, dynamic field that would make an excellent career for someone who wants to help workplaces make the most of their people and help people make the most of all their workplaces have to offer.

What Does a Career in Human Resources Look Like?

Human resources isn’t a one-size-fits-all job description. The size and scope of an HR department can depend on the size and scope of the business it serves. HR career paths tend to divide into generalists and specialists. Generalists help coordinate (in the case of HR assistants, coordinators, and associates) or oversee (in the case of HR managers and directors) all the operations of a human resources department. Specialists manage specific facets of HR, like benefits, policies, or training.

No matter their focus, HR professionals work closely with employees at all levels and use strong interpersonal and communication skills to build relationships, address concerns, and keep a workforce happy. Because of its intersection of empathy with organization, human resources is a natural pivot for people with a background in psychology, business, or law, so an HR career path can be as varied as the field itself. Whether you want to recruit top talent or foster a positive work culture, design benefits packages or navigate labor relations, there are specialties to suit every interest.

How Much Opportunity Does the HR Career Path Hold?

Is human resources a good career for expanding your job options? With ample opportunity at every level, yes!

Any company with employees has HR needs, but department size and daily duties can differ. Smaller companies may expect HR professionals to wear many hats, whereas larger organizations and highly regulated sectors, like government, health care, or finance, can offer more avenues for specialization.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that the employment market for human resources specialists will expand by approximately 78,700 jobs per year, and the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), a professional organization boasting over 300,000 members, found in their 2023-2024 State of the Workplace report that 56% of HR departments report being understaffed, proving a growing demand for skilled workers. HR specialists receive a median annual salary of more than $67,000, and HR managers stand to earn a median pay of more than $136,000 per year.

What Are Common Careers in HR?

Whether you’re just entering the workforce or thinking about a career change, there are a variety of human resources positions that will make the most of your skills as you forge your unique HR career path.

  • HR assistant: Support all functions of an HR department in this entry-level position while gaining valuable experience and connections.
  • Human resources coordinator: Help organize HR office processes like recruitment, benefits administration, and training so that they run smoothly.
  • Recruitment manager: Oversee efforts to attract and retain the right people with the right skills to meet a company’s workforce needs.
  • Executive recruiter: Manage the search and hiring process for the high-level leadership positions organizations rely on.
  • Compensation manager: Make sure a company’s benefits and compensation packages stay competitive and attractive.
  • Director of employee experience: Curate and promote a workplace culture focused on employee happiness and company goals.
  • Director of talent management: Direct recruitment strategy to attract new employees and develop internal programs to nurture existing talent.

5 Benefits of a Career in Human Resources

It’s only fitting that a career focusing on employee perks would have many of its own. Here are just a few of the benefits of a career in human resources.

1. Mobility

Human resources offers many different avenues of career growth. Whether you want to build your career as a generalist or hone your expertise in one of HR’s many specialty areas, you’ll have the flexibility to take your career wherever you want. And from the assistant level to C-suite positions, there’s an entry point into the field at every level of experience.

2. Stability

Along with the room to grow a career, HR professionals can add job security as a reason to feel good about their occupation. Because nearly every industry has HR needs—even in an age of increased automation—it’s a position you can count on for long-term employment.

3. Positive Impact

HR professionals play a vital role in creating a fair, positive, and inclusive workplace culture where employees feel valued and supported. This can have a significant impact on employee morale, productivity, and retention.

4. Professional Growth

The communication, conflict resolution, and problem-solving skills you hone throughout a career in HR are valuable, transferable, and conducive to career growth within and beyond the field of human resources.

5. Strong Industry Network

A testament to the people skills the industry relies on are the robust national organizations available to support and grow the profession. As an HR professional, the National Human Resources Association, Human Capital Institute, Association for Talent Development, and the Society for Human Resource Management are all available to you for job search resources, professional development, and community connection.

Getting Started in a Career in Human Resources

Nothing gets your HR career off to a stronger start than the right education. Although entry-level jobs may only require an associate degree, you’ll need a bachelor’s degree to move into more managerial positions, and a master’s degree is often the preferred qualification for directors and executive officers.

A BS in Business helps you build a strong foundation of skills that will, in turn, help you understand how a talented workforce can improve all areas of an organization. You’ll want to choose a program that offers a specialized concentration in human resources, preferably one that is aligned with SHRM’s curriculum standards.

For more seasoned professionals seeking to advance their career into leadership roles, a master’s in human resources prepares you to manage complex challenges and develop strategies that boost employee retention and engagement and drive organizational performance. With a graduate degree, you gain access to higher positions within an organization, including the C-suite, as well as greatly increase your earning potential.

If you’re someone who thrives on variety, enjoys helping others, and wants to play a strategic role in an organization’s success, then human resources is a good career for you. This growing field offers diverse challenges, job security, and the chance to make a positive impact in people’s lives.