Data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) suggest that human resource specialists enjoy stable careers. Fortunately, colleges and universities across the United States offer human resource degrees at all levels, including human resources associate programs. Advanced programs may involve internships, which expose students to practical workplace issues, while other programs offer specializations, which prepare students for certain areas of human resources.
Should I Get an Associate Degree in Human Resources?
Ideal candidates for human resources degrees are people dedicated to improving the quality of workplace culture and employee satisfaction. Throughout their academic careers, students learn communication and critical-thinking skills, proper recruiting and hiring practices, and effective tactics for professional development and training. Students can also decide if they would like a flexible, online program (for those already employed) or an on-campus one (for those fresh out of high school).
While in their program, students can enjoy networking opportunities. They can connect with other students and instructors to build relationships that will carry over into their professional lives, potentially leading to future job and internship opportunities, and recommendations for advanced degrees and employers. As students approach graduation, they can use their contacts and resources to explore job placement assistance and internship possibilities, creating a solid foundation to begin their careers.
What Can I Do with an Associate in Human Resources?
In human resources, professionals must be organized and people-oriented. Most jobs in the field also require professionals to have pristine communication skills with coworkers, clients, and professional contacts. Here are some variations of human resources positions:
- Administrative Assistant
Responsible for answering telephones and taking messages or transferring calls, administrative assistants also schedule appointments and update event calendars. Administrative assistants have a variety of responsibilities including basic bookkeeping, maintaining filing systems and databases, handling incoming and outgoing faxes and mail, and editing documents.
Median Annual Salary: $37,870*
- Office Clerk
In charge of answering and transferring telephone calls and taking messages, office clerks also sort and deliver incoming mail. They are also responsible for providing general information to clients, staff, or the public and collecting information to perform data entry.
Median Annual Salary: $31,500*
Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics
How to Choose an Associate Program in Human Resources
Deciding whether to enroll in an online or on-campus program is one of the most important decisions students face when choosing their associate in human resources program. Online programs benefit students with work or family obligations that require them to have a flexible education. Students who recently graduated high school and are used to a face-to-face learning experience might consider on-campus education as opposed to online.
Students should also review curricula before settling on a program. Since each program boasts its own unique curriculum, students can look into what courses are required and read through course descriptions to determine if the curriculum appeals to their personal interests and career goals.
Also consider program cost when choosing a program. Students will need to review, research, and calculate the costs associated with their desired program and compare that to their awarded financial aid to determine whether or not they can afford the program.
Finally, students should explore specialization opportunities. Since not all programs offer students the chance to choose a specialization, they should decide if that is something they would prefer. If it is, they can review what concentration options exist at each program and determine the right choice for them.
Associate in Human Resources Program Admissions
Each student must meet a certain set of requirements to be accepted into a program. Online students may undergo a more rigorous process; such elimination assures the school that the learner will not abuse the program's flexibility or fail to thrive in an online setting. To improve their chances, students should apply to a few different programs that interest them, especially if they aren't sure they meet all the requirements for any one program.
- Application: Applications require students to enter in basic information about themselves. They usually only take students 15-20 minutes to fill out entirely.
- Transcripts: Students must submit high school transcripts or GED.
- Application Fee: Application fees for human resources associate programs are usually about $25. Some students are eligible for fee waivers.
Educational Paths for Human Resources Associate Programs
Many students may want to consider transferring from an associate program into a bachelor's program. Since associate degree students are already learning the foundational skills needed to pursue their bachelor's, the transition between the two -- moving from a generalized approach to deeper study -- should be smooth.
- Bachelor of Science in Business Administration
A bachelor of science in business administration combines practical applications with academic theory to provide students with a real-world perspective on the essentials of operating a business. The degree focuses on topics like international business, human resource management, and marketing.
- Bachelor of Science in Human Resource Management
A bachelor of science in human resource management provides students with interpersonal and professional thinking skills in order to develop intellectual capital, manage continuous change, manage talent, and drive organizational effectiveness.
- Bachelor of Arts in Human Resource Management
Focusing on topics like recruiting, motivating, and retaining employees, a bachelor of arts in human resource management teaches students all of the knowledge and skills they need to be effective human resource managers.
What Else Can I Expect from an Associate Program in Human Resources?
Every program is unique in its structure and curriculum. Students must look at each program individually in order to determine which one is the right fit for them.
Courses in an Associate Program in Human Resources
Though programs have unique curricula, they cover the same general subject matter to prepare students for successful human resources careers across the field.
- Introduction to Business
Students in this course get a broad overview of the business world. They learn about marketing, business ownership, finance, and technology and information.
- Human Resource Management
Focused on the principles and problems in human relations, this course covers job analysis and specification, job evaluation, recruitment, supervision of employees, salary and wage administration, labor relations, and selection and training.
- Human Relations
This course explores dealing effectively with others, fostering career success, understanding and managing one's self, and managing one's personal life. Student learn the foundation of human resources on a personalized level. The course presents the issues with the premise that personal success and career are intertwined.
- Principles of Management
Covering communication, motivational techniques, managing change and conflict, control, and social responsibility and ethics, this course introduces students to principles and practices of management. Students learn how to lead effectively, communicate clearly, and manage time, responsibilities, and training opportunities.
- Social Impact of Technology
This course looks at technology in terms of personal, economic, political, and environmental issues. Students will learn how technology is used in companies and how to regulate technology usage among employees.
How Long Does It Take to Get an Associate in Human Resources?
Program length is impacted by a few factors, some within a student's control and others that are not. The typical amount of time it takes to complete a human resources associate degree is two years. Students can choose whether they would like to enroll full or part time, with part-time enrollment causing the program length to be longer. Students can work with their adviser to determine the amount of credits they can take each semester. Sometimes, students will be able to take extra credits to finish their degree faster.
How Much Is an Associate in Human Resources?
The biggest cost issue to consider when looking into human resources associate degrees is tuition. Colleges often evaluate tuition on an in-state and out-of-state basis. This means that students who live in the state in which the college is located are charged a lower tuition cost than students who come to the college from elsewhere.
Aside from tuition, students must consider the cost of living where they will attend school. Not only will they want to look into what it costs to rent an apartment, but also they may want to review average wages are for part-time jobs (if they need help paying for tuition).
In addition, prospective students should research the cost of class materials and technology, as well as the different program fees. Students can then factor in their financial aid to determine what they can afford in terms of program cost as a whole.
Professional Organizations in Human Resources
Graduates with human resources associate degrees should join professional organizations for training opportunities, connections, skill growth, and industry knowledge. Here are three popular organizations for human resources students:
SHRM provides networking, education, and certification to members.
A nonprofit organization powered by volunteer leaders, the NHRA focuses on advancing individual career development through networking programs and development services.
HRCA is an organization formed to provide training and education to individuals who want to support the human resources departments.