Are you a problem-solver? Do you pay close attention to details with whatever tasks at hand? Do you have a habit of ensuring that every aspect of a project runs smoothly? If you answer yes to all these questions, you are probably cut out for a human resources job.
The workplace can be rife with issues; anywhere from disputes between employees, harassment complaints, and labor and management relations. Human resources, popularly abbreviated as HR, is the framework for how people at work interact with each other.
If you aren’t too familiar with what HR professionals do, they take on a multitude of different responsibilities at a job. HR professionals interview, hire, and screen potential employees and coordinate various aspects of administration, training, and development. They also keep tabs on employee benefits, payroll, and how employees are getting along with each other.
It sure is a lot to take in and HR managers end up wearing many hats at their place of business. It may seem like a daunting task, but the possible rewards are abundant.
Human Resources Job Outlook
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, a human resources manager makes an average of $116,720 per year, with the occupation itself growing at 7% every year, which is deemed faster than average compared to others.
New Jersey is currently the ‘HR king,’ as it pays the highest hourly wage at $82.72 an hour. If you’re looking for the most fruitful career and pay potential in the sector, you’re going to want to stick to states like New York, Washington, D.C., Rhode Island, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, and Massachusetts.
The highest volume of these jobs is found, unsurprisingly perhaps, in places like major cities with larger populations. If you find yourself in the metro areas like New York, Chicago, San Francisco, and Los Angeles, your salary prospects are likely to grow exponentially. Basically, the more companies that start to form and open up in these places, the more opportunity there is to flex your HR muscles.
What’s a Human Resources Certificate? Is It Better Than a Degree?
A human resources degree can increase your chances of getting hired. But what if you simply don’t have the time for an extensive four-year-long program? That’s where certificate programs come in to save the day.
Just because a certification takes lesser time than a typical undergraduate degree, don’t ever get the idea that they aren’t beneficial. On the contrary, many HR certificate programs cater specifically to different aspects of HR management: skills like leadership, workplace strategy, employment law, organizational behavior, talent management, talent acquisition, and more.
Having an HR certificate paints you as being extremely dedicated to the career, and by extension, having your decisions and judgments carry more weight. While a degree is a fantastic achievement, having a certificate to convey that you have the specialized set of skills primarily geared towards a specific career you’re exploring is invaluable.
Different Types of HR Certificates
There isn’t just one general human resources certification.
These are the certifications that, so far, have helped people earn the most job hires and pay increases:
- Certified Professional in Learning and Performance (CPLP)
- Professional in Human Resources (PHR)
- Senior Professional in Human Resources (SPHR)
- Society for Human Resource Management Certified Professional (SHRM-CP)
- Society for Human Resource Management Senior Certified Professional (SHRM-SCP)
The Best Online Certificate Programs for Human Resources
The Internet takes the hassle out of nearly everything these days, which means applying and taking advantage of an online human resources certificate program is a breeze. If you’re an HR rookie and aren’t ready to commit to a full certificate’s workload or financial commitment, you may want to look into free HR certifications.
Before we dive into the big leagues, let’s examine some honorable mentions.
If you’re wondering how to get a human resources certification, these three certificate programs are worth looking into:
- Oxford Home Study College
- HR Fundamentals with FutureLearn
- Introduction to Human Resources for US Small Business Administration
Oxford Home Study College
Oxford covers three tenets of human resources:
- HR management
- Recruiting fundamentals
- Staff development and training.
After completing a 20-hour course, you receive certification via email. This certification could give you a better idea about how global human resources can work.
HR Fundamentals with FutureLearn
This is a free five-week online course with a very flexible start date. Attendees will take part in about 15 hours worth of human resource management material. While this is intended more toward corporate professionals who are already familiar with some essential knowledge, it’s still a reliable option for those who want to break into the industry as well.
Introduction to Human Resources for US Small Business Administration
This is a 30-minute online course from the US Small Business Administration and is a solid primer for HR basics and specially tailored for small businesses. Although not comprehensive as an actual course, it can open the door to many more critical human resources ideas.
Now that we’ve covered some honorable mentions, let’s examine the heavy hitters of human resources certificate programs.
Here are some of the best online human resources certificate programs:
- Villanova University’s Certificate in HR Management
- University of Virginia
- Golden Gate University
- Cornell University
Villanova University’s Certificate in HR Management
Villanova, near Philadelphia, is a university that offers a robust online curriculum where students can take to earn an HR certificate. There are multiple start dates to accommodate any time frame and the university holds its classes over an 18-month period.
The courses offer a variety of useful tools, like updated scenarios to work out HR problems, e-publications, flashcards, and thousands of situational judgment questions to put your human resources knowledge to the test. The school wants to make sure you’re ready for the SHRM test, otherwise known as the Society for Human Resource Management certification exams.
University of Virginia
Through the University of Virginia’s School of Continuing and Professional Studies, people in the working force can brush up on their corporate skills and learn newer ones to propel them further in their careers.
The University of Virginia’s program takes only a year to complete and consists of six courses, all taken via online learning on a part-time basis. The school has a flat, in state and out of state rate of approximately $7,740.
At the University of Virginia, you’ll take courses to bolster your knowledge with its five main classes:
- Human Resource Management
- Management of Organizations
- Organizational Change & Development
- Legal & Ethical Issues in Human Resources
- Employee Relations, Engagement, and Advocacy
And you’ll have to take one elective from two options:
- Compensation & Benefits
- Strategic Workforce Planning
Golden Gate University
Located in San Francisco, California, Golden Gate University offers hybrid courses in human resource management. Students will be required to take 15 units, with some potential classes to be substituted at the student’s discretion. These classes include all the human resource mainstays like training and development, organizational behavior, and labor-management relations.
To be admitted to the certification program, prospective students are required to have completed high school with a solid GPA, some work experience, a written statement, and a possible interview with the dean. Some prerequisites are required for some core courses as well.
Through its online learning platform, eCornell, Cornell University offers an impressive amount of human resource certificates entirely online:
- Human Resources Management Certificate
- Human Resources Essentials
- Diversity and Inclusion for HR
- Strategic Human Resources Leadership
- HR Transformation Certificate
- Recruiting and Talent Acquisition
- Conflict Resolution
- HR Analytics
- PHR Prep
- Employment Law
- Compensation Studies
- Labor Relations
- Social Media in HR: From Policy to Practice
It’s plain to see that Cornell offers an extremely detailed set of certificate programs for anyone interested in human resources, or is already building their career in the field. These highly specified courses are about two weeks in length, taken over the course of around five months, and entirely online.
Final Thoughts on Human Resources Certificate Programs
Obtaining a human resources management certificate is beneficial, especially if you are looking to venture into the field. It is also incredibly cost-effective and less time-consuming than an outright degree in a broader field of study.
Although it would be great to have some free online options to gain certificates from top universities, the paid ones are already much more inexpensive than a four-year degree that may cost you unsavory college debt. You can always explore the options offered by the free certificate programs to get a better feel for the basics of human resource management.
These courses, all of which are online or in hybrid form, provide equal opportunities to aspiring HR professionals, whether young, old, right out of college, or coming off of their current 9-to-5 job. Earning an online human resources certificate can be a fantastic way to put an end to the monotony of a job, bringing some serious satisfaction to your life.
If you know what you want to do already, why not double down on the major hard skills needed to succeed at that job? With some prior work experience, coupled with an impressive online human resources certificate, you can easily impress hiring managers and get a jump on a career as an HR professional.