The human resources division of companies and organizations manages recruitment and hiring, training and development of employees, compensation and benefits, and labor relations. Human resources professionals enjoy working with people and possess excellent communication skills. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, human resource specialists and human resource managers will see a 5% and 9% increase in job prospects, respectively, within the next decade. If you would enjoy a career conducting interviews and consulting with executives about hiring strategies and compensation, now is the time to pursue an associate degree in human resources online.

What are the best human resources programs of 2020? Here are our top 10:

Rank School Location
1 Olney Central College Olney, IL
2 Colorado Christian University Lakewood, CO
3 Georgia Piedmont Technical College Clarkston, GA
4 Saint Francis University Loretto, PA
5 Lakeshore Technical College Cleveland, WI
6 Chippewa Valley Technical College Eau Claire, WI
7 South Texas College McAllen, TX
8 Minnesota State Community and Technical College Fergus Falls, MN
9 Concordia University Wisconsin Mequon, WI
10 Northeast Wisconsin Technical College Green Bay, WI

What Will I Learn in an Online Human Resources Program?

Curricula of online human resource associate degree programs vary by school and concentration. However, most programs cover foundational topics such as regulations and management, hiring and dismissal techniques, recruitment strategies, training programs, and employer-employee relations. Below are three courses common to most human resource associate degree programs.

Compensation and Benefits

This course covers the basics of calculating payroll, ensuring employees are compensated on time, and managing benefits such as healthcare and retirement plans.

Training and Development

Students explore the processes involved with internal training and development for employees. Course material draws on instructional design theory and practice to teach students to develop, implement, and evaluate training initiatives and programs.

Human Resource Management

This course provides an overview of skills necessary to manage day-to-day human resource operations, such as managing workflow and personnel, hiring and dismissing employees, and overseeing training development.

What Are The Best Associate in Human Resources Programs?

Rank School Location Cost Graduation Rate Toggle

Olney Central College

Olney, IL Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 56%

Colorado Christian University

Lakewood, CO Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 52%

Georgia Piedmont Technical College

Clarkston, GA Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 49%

Saint Francis University

Loretto, PA Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 69%

Lakeshore Technical College

Cleveland, WI Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 41%

Chippewa Valley Technical College

Eau Claire, WI Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 46%

South Texas College

McAllen, TX Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 22%

Minnesota State Community and Technical College

Fergus Falls, MN Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 45%

Concordia University Wisconsin

Mequon, WI Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 59%

Northeast Wisconsin Technical College

Green Bay, WI Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 43%

What Can I Do With an Associate Degree in Human Resources?

Human resources departments exist across industries, in settings such as government agencies, schools and universities, restaurants, retail stores, transportation companies, manufacturing companies, and other corporate enterprises. Human resource jobs differ slightly by industry, but each division deals with recruitment, hiring, dismissal, training, and compensation.

Human resources professionals may specialize in areas such as recruitment, payroll, or training. Personality type often determines the particular aspect of human resources an individual pursues. For example, someone who enjoys dealing with numbers may become a payroll accountant or analyst, whereas someone who enjoys teaching and communicating may become a training specialist or developer. Below are three positions commonly found in human resources departments.

Training Coordinator

Training coordinators create and implement training programs for incoming and current employees. Depending on the size of the company, training coordinators may be responsible for the entire training process or for a certain step, such as design, implementation, or evaluation.

Payroll Manager

Payroll managers oversee the processing of payments to employees. Responsibilities include checking payroll calculations and conducting administrative tasks concerning employee paperwork. Payroll managers are familiar with accounting and data entry practices.

Human Resources Manager

Human resource managers plan and coordinate the daily operations of the human resources division, including recruitment, hiring, training, compensation, benefits, and dismissal. They ensure adherence to internal and federal policies during dealings with employees.


While graduates of an associate degree in human resources program are eligible for entry-level human resources positions, many upper-level positions require a bachelor's or graduate degree, which means further education is crucial for advancement in the field and increased earning potential. A payroll specialist requires a human resources associate degree and makes an average of $46,833 per year, while a payroll manager requires a bachelor's degree and makes an average of $62,604 per year. Below are three bachelor's degrees that result in advancement and increased salaries for human resources professionals.

  • Psychology: Psychology is the study of human thought and behavior, specifically how thought affects action. A bachelor's in psychology commonly leads to counseling positions, both at schools and in private therapy practices. However, this versatile degree is useful in any position that requires communication and critical thinking skills.
  • Business administration: A business administration degree provides a foundation in business theory and practice, covering the basics of finance, accounting, marketing, and supply chain management. Since human resource divisions often function within the larger organizational structure of a business, a background in business administration is highly applicable, especially to management positions.
  • Accounting: A bachelor's in accounting is useful for those planning to pursue careers in payroll and compensation. Accounting programs teach students to process and communicate financial information.

Salary Outlook for Associate in Human Resources Graduates

Human resources professionals typically grow their salaries over time. As the chart below demonstrates, managerial and director positions have the highest growth potential based on experience. A payroll specialist's salary may increase about $7,000 over 20 years, while a human resource director's salary may increase by $40,000. However, careers in human resource departments provide ample room for upward mobility. For example, a payroll specialist may advance to payroll manager after a few years.

Human Resources Careers by Experience

Regardless of position or employer, experience in the human resources field impacts an individual's salary. The table below shows the average salaries of training coordinators, benefit specialists, and other human resources staff according to experience level.

Job Title Overall Median Salary Median Salary for Entry-Level Employees Median Salary for Mid-Career Employees Median Salary for Late-Career Employees
Training Coordinator $48,492 $42,000 $47,000 $57,000
Payroll Specialist $46,833 $39,000 $44,000 $46,000
Benefits Specialist $47,903 $42,000 $47,000 $54,000
Human Resources Manager $63,639 $53,000 $65,000 $73,000
Human Resources Director $85,283 $59,000 $79,000 $101,000


Human resources professional organizations provide students and professionals with leadership opportunities, networking opportunities, training and development tools, and career support. Through professional organizations, students may access scholarships, essay contests, and research presentation opportunities. These organizations help working professionals earn promotions, find new jobs, and further their training in the field. Below are three well-known human resources professional organizations.

Financing Your Online Associate in Human Resources Program

Students finance associate degrees in human resources through scholarships, loans, grants, and work-study programs. Professional organizations, educational institutions, and private corporations often award scholarships to human resources students. The Society for Human Resource Management Foundation offers an annual scholarship competition for student members, and ExxonMobil maintains a scholarship program for students pursuing degrees in business, science, or technology. Also complete the FAFSA to see if you qualify for federal aid.


Approximately two-thirds of today's college students rely on loans to fund their education, but there are plenty of overlooked financing options you can use to reduce your overall student debt.


Completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is a crucial first step for any student with financial needs. Our FAFSA guide features a step-by-step rundown on the process and answers to several frequently asked questions.


Financial aid for online learning is equivalent to what you'll find for campus-based learning, but that hasn't always been the case. Learn about the changes that have taken place, as well as the different funding opportunities available to online students.


Online college programs can be a flexible, affordable option for single parents who are interested in earning a degree and securing their family's financial future. We've compiled a list of scholarships, grants, and other financial aid options geared toward single moms and dads.


Millions of dollars in free money is available to U.S. military personnel, but much of it goes unused. Learn more about grants, scholarships, and other financial aid opportunities available to veterans, active-duty service members, and reservists.