Explore the career of an HR specialist

Wherever there are employees, there are often also human resources specialists. These professionals are integral pieces to any organization.

Just as varied as the work settings HR specialists may find themselves in are the job responsibilities they are tasked with: It’s not all employee conduct handbooks and regulations — though they are important. Human resources specialists have a hand in nearly all aspects of operations and are relied on to provide a number of essential services.

HR professionals have a diverse collection of job duties, and their education reflects that range. Students considering earning an online Bachelor of Science in Human Resource Management will often encounter coursework designed to give them the robust preparation and various skills needed to excel in the field and in their personal ambitions. Taking a closer look at the career of an HR specialist can help prospective students learn more about what’s required of these professionals, as well as the steps to become an HR specialist, like getting an online business degree.

Job outlook positive for HR specialists

An important first consideration for a career as an HR specialist is the job outlook. Graduates want to be sure there’s a market for them, and fortunately HR roles are expected to grow alongside the pace of overall jobs. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, HR specialists are forecast to see 7 percent job growth between 2016 and 2026.

The median annual salary for HR specialists in 2017 was just above $60,000. HR specialists can earn more depending on where they work, as those in professional, technical, and scientific services make about $68,000 on average.

The BLS notes that HR tasks continue to be outsourced. While at first it may seem like this trend hinders job opportunities for professionals, the agency noted that it creates more jobs for HR specialists at third-party providers and primary employers. The truth is that HR is becoming only more important as issues like gender pay equality and workforce diversity gain prominence.

What do HR specialists do?

There’s no one easy way to answer the question of “What does an HR specialist do?” because they do a little bit of everything, potentially being involved in on all areas of the business or organization. Having a varied skill set allows them to tackle challenges from labor to accounting to general duties. However, some of the core responsibilities any HR specialist can expect to take on include:

  • Benefits and policy education: Human resources specialists are often charged with communicating essential job benefits and workplace policy information to employees. This overview may come in the form of a team meeting or individual one-on-one sessions. HR specialists are the go-to resources for anything related to health care, dental care, and retirement accounts. They must also uphold and disseminate employee conduct codes and train workers and management on discrimination and harassment, as well as handle cases involving such complaints.
  • New hire recruitment and onboarding: The American job market is on the upswing, and HR specialists are at the forefront of hiring companies and tasked with overseeing recruitment in many aspects. HR specialists are depended on to sift through applications, vet applicants, interview prospective hires, and take new employees through the onboarding process — which spans tax document preparations to office introductions.
  • Workforce development and engagement: This is where the human element of HR comes into greatest focus, as specialists often lead initiatives that improve worker skills or provide some kind of personal or professional enrichment. Specialists may lead seminars on time management or hold “office hours” that employees can take advantage of to just talk.

Where do HR specialists work?

Human resources is central to any kind of operation, whether in the public or private sector, and that makes HR specialists an in-demand commodity in nearly any type of working environment. A short list of these settings includes:

  • Multinational companies and small businesses
  • Federal and state agencies
  • Nonprofits, charities, and nongovernmental organizations
  • Manufacturing and energy
  • Health care

How to become an HR specialist

The first step to becoming an HR specialist for many is getting a bachelor’s degree. Enrolling in an online program that confers a degree in human resources management gets students exposure to the robust education needed to build the competencies, skills, and knowledge that HR specialists apply on a daily basis.

Studying to earn Bachelor of Science in Human Resource Management includes completing coursework that may cover topics like:

  • Organizational behavior and decision-making
  • Employment law and business intelligence\
  • Managing through leadership
  • Information systems and business communications
  • Basic marketing and fundamentals of finance

Many human resource management programs also include a practicum or capstone project in addition to the core curriculum. Getting this type of experiential learning can help students connect what they learn to how human resources specialists operate in the real world.

Get your online degree from UAB

When pursuing a Bachelor of Science in Human Resource Management, many prospective students look for an online option to help prepare them for a career. That’s why the University of Alabama at Birmingham offers a 100 percent online program that allows students to complete their degrees on their time and with the utmost level of support and faculty quality. Our coursework aligns with the guidelines established by the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), so students can be sure they’re receiving a focused and specialized education.

Contact an enrollment advisor today for more information about our school, our program, and the degree.


Recommended Readings:

What you may learn in UAB’s online BS in Human Resource Management program

Online BS in Management or online BS in HR Management: Which is right for me?



U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

University of Alabama at Birmingham