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:
|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?
Olney Central College
|Olney, IL||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 56%||
OCC delivers an associate in human resources that prepares students for entry-level jobs. The curriculum focuses on skills like managing employee benefits, hiring and retaining workers, and managing workplace conflict.
Most classes take place online and feature an asynchronous format. OCC makes its associate-level courses highly transferable, enabling students to transition to bachelor's degree programs at other colleges and universities nationwide.
The associate in human resources program accepts applicants who are at least 17 years old and hold a high school or GED diploma. Prospective students should also submit their ACT, SAT, or other standardized test scores, along with their official high school or college transcripts.
OCC is part of the Illinois Eastern Community Colleges system. Recent graduates have left with a median student loan debt of just $3,500.
Colorado Christian University
|Lakewood, CO||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 52%||
Located in Lakewood, CCU offers an associate degree in human resources designed for nontraditional learners; students can take classes on campus or online. The 60-credit program features small class sizes, and students take just one course at a time during five-week terms. Most students graduate in less than two years.
To apply, learners must provide proof of a high school or GED diploma, along with a driver's license or state-issued identification card. The school allows students to apply up to 45 transfer credits to their associate degree.
The average CCU student makes an annual salary of more than $41,000 10 years after graduating. All students pay the same tuition, regardless of state residency. The university also offers discounted tuition to military members and their families.
Georgia Piedmont Technical College
|Clarkston, GA||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 49%||
GPTC's associate in human resources management gives students a comprehensive look at key issues in HR, including communication, employee compensation and benefits, labor relations, and performance management. Students take a course in employee training and development, learning best practices related to improving employees' skills and empowering them to perform to their true potential.
To apply to this 64-credit associate in human resources program, prospective students must submit their official high school transcripts or GED scores, along with their ACCUPLACER, ACT, SAT, or ASSET scores. Applicants also must provide proof of legal presence in the U.S.
Students can also take classes at the college's DeKalb or Newton campuses. GPTC reports a 98.7% job placement rate for its associate-level graduates.
Saint Francis University
|Loretto, PA||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 69%||
Saint Francis offers an associate degree in human resources and computer technology. This program is suitable for adult learners and current high school students enrolled in a technical training program.
Students may take classes online or at one of four off-site locations. Online courses take place through the school's Francis Worldwide division and feature an asynchronous format, allowing students to complete requirements largely at their convenience. Instructors teach all courses using the Catholic Franciscan tradition.
Saint Francis is located in Loretto, Pennsylvania. Both in-state and out-of-state students pay the same tuition. The university maintains a graduation rate above 70%, while about 67% of learners receive federal loans to help pay for their education.
Lakeshore Technical College
|Cleveland, WI||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 41%||
LTC delivers a 60-credit associate degree in human resources administration that features accelerated, online course options. Many students graduate in less than two years. All classes use an asynchronous format with no set log-in times.
The curriculum includes a class on strategic performance management that teaches students how to analyze data to improve employee competence, develop training plans, and evaluate worker performance.
Applicants must provide their official high school transcripts or GED scores. Once admitted, students meet with an advisor to determine their placement in general education courses based on their ACT or ACCUPLACER scores. Students may begin the program in January or August.
LTC is located in Cleveland, Wisconsin — near the banks of Lake Michigan. The average student graduates with $7,000 in loan debt.
Chippewa Valley Technical College
|Eau Claire, WI||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 46%||
Located in western Wisconsin, CVTC oversees an associate in human resources program that teaches students how to recruit and hire employees, create robust training plans, implement benefit programs, and improve worker morale.
A course on employee relations allows students to build their knowledge in professional etiquette, maintain strict employee confidentiality, and work with people from different backgrounds and cultures. Students also learn the basics of employment law.
The 60-credit program takes about two years to complete. Students may choose between online or on-campus classes. Distance courses use an asynchronous format.
To apply, prospective students submit their high school transcripts or GED scores. Nearly 70% of CVTC's associate in human resources graduates secure employment in the field, earning an average starting salary of $36,000 per year.
South Texas College
|McAllen, TX||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 22%||
STC's online associate degree in human resources helps students build skills related to conflict resolution, benefits administration, worker recruitment, and creating a positive workplace culture. Students can take all courses online through an asynchronous format.
The 60-credit program includes a course on employment practices, covering key concepts in interviewing job candidates, conducting pre-employment testing, and Equal Employment Opportunity recordkeeping.
During their final semester, students complete an internship in an HR setting, allowing them to learn the skills and processes HR professionals use daily. Most full-time students earn their degree in two years. Eligible applicants to this associate in human resources program must hold a high school or GED diploma.
Minnesota State Community and Technical College
|Fergus Falls, MN||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 45%||
M State offers two options for future HR professionals. An AS pathway prepares students to transition into a bachelor's degree program, while an AAS track readies students to immediately seek career opportunities after graduation. Both degrees comprise 60 credits, and students typically graduate in two years.
All human resources classes are offered online and delivered asynchronously. Learners can also take classes at the school's Moorhead campus. Participants take eight HR courses, including a talent acquisition class that focuses on attracting, hiring, and retaining high-quality employees.
To apply, prospective students must submit their official high school transcripts or GED scores. M State is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
Concordia University Wisconsin
|Mequon, WI||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 59%||
CUW's online associate degree in human resource management emphasizes interpersonal communication and business management — critical skills for any successful HR manager. Students can complete the 64-credit program online or at any of the university's nine Wisconsin campuses.
The program's curriculum includes a class on social psychology in the workplace, covering how persuasion, group behavior, and social influences affect how individual employees think, feel, act, and perform in their jobs. Professionals can use this knowledge to foster positive workplace cultures.
Applicants must submit their official transcripts or GED scores. Eligible students should hold a minimum 2.0 high school GPA (or the equivalent). All CUW students pay the same tuition, regardless of where they live.
Northeast Wisconsin Technical College
|Green Bay, WI||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 43%||
Focused on the HR needs of organizations large and small, NWTC's associate in human resources program teaches students key skills related to employee development, benefits administration, employment law, and building a positive workplace culture.
The 63-credit program takes full-time students two years to complete. In their final semester, participants engage in an HR career experience, choosing from options like an internship, field research, a capstone, or service learning.
To apply, prospective students submit their official high school transcripts or GED scores. Eligible students must hold a minimum 2.6 high school GPA and demonstrate competency using Word, Excel, and PowerPoint. Students may also take classes at NWTC's Green Bay, Marinette, or Sturgeon Bay campuses — all located in eastern Wisconsin.
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|
|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.
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