Sonia Wilkinson completed her Master of Human Resources Management (HRM) degree from National University in 2018. With an undergraduate degree in general business and a career in real estate that halted when the market fell apart, she took advantage of the downtime to reinvent herself in a career with extensive people interaction.
Wilkinson says, “I’m people-oriented. I enjoy customer service and supporting others. A degree in management was more numbers-driven to me and although the HRM is a management degree, it’s more about supporting and helping people. I’m starting in a generalist position and working toward HR manager.”
What Is Human Resource Management (HRM)?
Human resources management is the function within an organization that has a strong focus on the employees – recruiting, managing, providing direction, and mentoring them – individually and as part of a particular group within the company. Human resource professionals also help companies overall in developing the best-fitting processes for interactions with potential employees, current employees, and customers based on the company culture.
The HRM group is a critical component to overall operational success in any company. Senior staff and employees turn to HR managers and specialists for training, administrative services, legal advice, human talent management, coaching, tools, and overall management advice. HR groups can be the pinnacle in developing an organization’s culture and help develop a company’s mission, vision, and values in order to attract the right employees.
HRM staff members are tasked with the design of the most appropriate employee benefits program, performance appraisal processes, and the payroll system. The HR staff stays current on hiring and firing regulations, equal opportunity employment, discrimination regulations, and so on.
The role of human resource management isn’t all regulations, systems, and policy monitoring. There’s a community-building aspect to the role, too. HR teams endeavor to create community and employee outreach and activities that engage employees, their families, and beyond, such as annual cookouts, interactive fundraisers that encourage physical activity or inspiring employees to volunteer in the community outside of work.
What Skills Are Needed for Human Resources Management?
One of the most critical skills for a human resource professional is interpersonal communication, as the job entails constant interaction with individuals; human resources, at its core, is providing service to others. Coaching and counseling fall into this purview, but having a foundation of enjoying interacting with people is important.
Written and verbal communication skills are also critical as HR professionals often run meetings and produce letters, policies, procedures, and training materials. It won’t be a surprise to learn that computer and technology skills are an asset. Gone (mostly) are the days of paper files. Computers keep track of everything from job postings to employment contracts to payroll and retirement.
Being a critical thinker is also important. Whether in screening applicants for open positions, recruiting, or interviewing, HR personnel need to be able to quickly and decisively make decisions and evaluate the pros and cons.
Similarly, conflict management is key, as helping to resolve issues using integrity, discretion, empathy, and facilitation are all in a day’s work. So is confidentiality.
HR professionals routinely encounter personal or sensitive information – about employees individually and the company as a whole. Discretion is constantly and consistently needed when it comes to sharing information or maintaining the safety of all confidential records. Helping employers and employees stay accountable and remain in compliance with ethical standards is part of human resources, also.
In HR, something is always happening, and people are always moving around, both in and out — and within — the organization. So it goes without saying, being organized is important as there are many details to keep track of, from employee files to benefits tracking to time and calendar management. An ability to multi-task also comes in handy when it comes to HR work.
Where Do HR Managers Work?
Human resource managers are needed in companies of all sizes in the private sector and within government agencies. And a person with a human resources education and background can take on many types of roles. As you probably picked up on based on the skills needed, careers are as varied as the responsibilities per position, depending on the type and size of the company. An HR department can be as small as one person or as large as a few hundred people.
Many organizations outsource common HR tasks, such as payroll, to lower their internal overhead costs. This means that becoming a self-employed or contract-based HR professional is also an option. In this role, you might be hired to perform background checks, administer benefits programs, process payroll, deliver common occupational training such as sexual harassment seminars, and produce employee handbooks and policy guides.
People with human resource management experience and education are good fits for other roles, such as career coach or counselor, corporate trainer, mediator, employment manager, and labor relations manager.
“One of the reasons I chose the master in HRM is to have the chance to help other employees with their career paths,” Wilkinson says. “I had some challenges when I was looking for a job and when I spoke with a National advisor about my interests, she suggested human resources to me. A lot of people are lost and don’t know what to do with life in general, but particularly with business — they don’t know what their talents are and what their strengths or weaknesses are.”
If you want to specialize in, say, recruitment, a large corporation may be the best fit. If you want to keep your knowledge in all aspects of human resource management current, a small company with a small HR group may be the best fit.
Here are a few opportunities to consider that may help you decide that the human resources management master’s is the right management degree to advance your career:
Human Resources Specialists have a strong focus on the employee, in that they recruit, screen, interview, and place workers in the positions they best fit. HR specialists also commonly handle tasks associated with employee relations, training, and compensation and benefits. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) Occupational Outlook Handbook (OOH), employment of HR specialists is expected to grow seven percent from 2016 to 2026, which is about as fast as the average for all occupations. Most of this growth is projected to be in the employment services industry. In 2018, the annual mean wage in California for this position was $75,010, with a national median pay at $60,880. California was ranked number one for highest employment level.
Human Resources Managers plan, direct, and coordinate an organization’s administrative functions. Tasks and responsibilities can include staff recruiting, interviewing, and hiring; working with senior executives on strategic planning; and being the connecting link between management and employees. The BLS OOH predicts the employment change for HR managers to increase nine percent from 2016 to 2026, about as fast as average for all occupations. The growth is attributed to new companies forming and current organizations expanding their operations; competition is anticipated to be strong, also. Annual median pay in 2018 was $113,300 nationally, and $142,870 in California.
Compensation and Benefits Managers plan, develop, and generally oversee employee compensation programs. Compensation and benefits managers saw an annual median pay of $121,010 nationally in 2018 and $150,480 in California. Projected job growth for this position is five percent from 2016 to 2026, about as fast as the average for all occupations, and competition is expected to be strong.
Training and Development Specialists help plan, conduct, and administer training programs to help employees improve their skills and knowledge. According to the BLS OOH, employment of training and development specialists is expected to grow 11 percent from 2016 to 2026, which is faster than average for all occupations. Most of this growth is projected for those with experience in developing online and mobile training programs. In 2018, the annual mean wage in California for this position was $73,040, with the national median pay at $60,870.
Career Counselors can be found in colleges, career centers, and private industry, wherever there is a need to offer assistance to people seeking the best-fitting career and employment path. Per the BLS OOH, the projected job outlook for this field is 13 percent, faster than average for all occupations, from 2016-2026, due to increasing school enrollments. The annual national median pay in 2018 was $56,310; in California it was $74,530.
What Do You Learn in the National HRM Program?
As for what you’ll learn with the human resources management master’s online degree at National University, the required classes, all taught by instructors with expertise in the field, include: Theory and Practice of HRM; Legal, Ethical & Safety Issues; Workforce Planning, Development, and Outsourcing; Seminar in Training and Development; Integrating Performance Management; and Advanced Studies in Organizational Behavior.
There is also an opportunity to specialize in organizational leadership.
Wilkinson particular enjoyed these three courses within the master in HRM program:
Compensation Benefits – An overview of the latest technology and automated systems applicable to HR responsibilities; and the fundamental aspects of wage, salary, benefits administration, and employee rewards and incentives.
Seminar in Employee Relations – A look at the day-to-day realm of common and complex issues related to human behavior in the workplace; an examination of relationships among unions, workers, management, and the government; assessment of legal restraints and preparations and techniques for dealing with negotiations, strikes, lockouts, grievances, and arbitration.
Theory and Practice of Organizational Development – An overview of how, why, and when to integrate behavioral sciences with HRM principles to increase individual and organizational effectiveness through analysis, evaluation, and designing and applying relevant theories to the workplace.
Wilkinson says, “Class sizes were such that everyone got special attention. The teachers were, I can’t say enough about the teachers, the professors, they were awesome. With enrollment staying open year-round, you can just keep taking a new class each month. You don’t have to take a break unless you want to. You really need to be focused and dedicated to the classes, especially if you’re working full-time. You’re cramming in a full-time education every month.”
Pursuing the Online Master of Human Resources Management
National University designed its online degree programs with a keen focus on the needs of adults whose lives are already quite busy and full. National’s online programs have always-open enrollment and classes start every four weeks. So no matter when you decide to start pursuing advanced education, and no matter how busy your personal or professional life is, with the help of an advisor, you can fit the master in HRM program into your schedule.
You can take classes wherever you have internet access – your home, a library, while traveling, or, if you’re actively deployed, from your military station in the U.S. or abroad.
As a veteran-founded nonprofit and strong proponent for U.S. military personnel, National offers military tuition discounts and scholarships to active servicemembers or those seeking veteran opportunities. Dependents of those serving or who have served can receive tuition discounts, also. If you are moving from military to civilian life, this article, Transitioning Out of the Military – Military-Friendly Colleges Online, may be insightful.
National University’s online learning platform is easy to learn, and classes can be as interactive as on-campus courses. Through this online system, you can receive assignments and post your homework, have live interactions with the instructor and other students, and access additional learning materials. Class sizes are purposely kept small so that you can actively participate with other students, and with your instructors.
“The technology was definitely easy to learn,” Wilkinson says. “I didn’t have any frustrations at all. I loved that the program fit perfectly into my work schedule and my lifestyle due to the technology because I could get on the computer at night at two in the morning if I couldn’t sleep. I could go to school at any time. It was wonderful.”
Choosing National University
Wilkinson says, “It was actually serendipitous how I found National. I was looking at other universities but, one day while I was walking, I came across one of their campus locations.”
She walked in and started talking to one of the advisors about her goals. That’s when she first heard about the HRM program.
“It clicked for me, and I registered on the spot and the rest is history!”
Wilkinson said her transition into the program was smooth and seamless. She especially appreciated the year-round rolling enrollment and monthly classes. “National is unique in the four-week class format,” she says. “And that fits into anyone’s schedule. It definitely fit mine.”
Are You Ready to Move Your Career Forward?
The role of human resource management professionals has changed over the years. Where HRM staff used to typically receive direction from a company’s senior management, they are now often an active part of an organization’s leadership team. HRM professionals help identify company priorities and needs as well as suggest the best approaches, processes, and solutions that can enable an organization to run effectively and efficiently.
If you are ready to gain your human resources management master’s, National University makes it easy to get started with an online degree.
You can learn more at our Master of Arts in Human Resource Management program page, as well as by connecting with an advisor to talk about your goals.