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Associate degree programs in human resources management provide students with an overview of the various aspects of the discipline, helping to prepare them for either an entry-level career or future coursework in the subject. Students typically work toward an Associate of Science (A.S.) or an Associate of Applied Science (A.A.S.) in human resources management, and studies generally take two years. Many schools also offer the subject as a concentration of an associate in business or business administration degree program.

Online Associate Degree in Human Resources Management: Coursework and Overview

Students seeking their associate degree in human resources management take a variety of general education, human resources, and relevant business courses. While coursework varies by school, there are several classes that overlap across degree programs. Below are some examples:

Human Resources Management Degree Courses

  • Introduction to Business: Courses provide an overview of the different functions and components of a business, such as accounting and marketing, and also often touch on how various economic factors impact businesses.
  • Human Resources Management: Students gain an understanding of the role and functions of human resources management. Examples of topics that courses may cover include employee selection, job evaluation, and motivation.
  • Compensation and Benefits Management: Students explore different approaches and effective techniques to designing compensation and benefits packages. Schools sometimes make compensation and benefits into two separate courses.
  • Financial Accounting: Students learn how to develop, analyze, and compute figures for financial statements in accordance with the generally accepted accounting principles (GAAP). Income statements, balance sheets, and statements of cash flows are all common areas of discussion.
  • Business Law: Courses examine legal issues relevant to business operations. Examples include property law, sales, and employment.

Courses Outside of the Human Resources Management Degree

  • Introduction to Psychology: Students learn the basics of major psychology specializations and important concepts, such as perception, learning, and development.
  • English Composition: Students analyze and discuss a variety of literary works and hone their critical thinking and writing skills through class discussions and essays.
  • Communications: Courses give students an opportunity to develop and improve upon their verbal and written communications skills. Schools often feature specialized courses in certain areas of communications, such as visual communications and business communications.

Potential Careers for Individuals with an Associate Degree in Human Resources Management

Associate degree programs can help students build a foundation in the different components of human resources management and thus help prepare them for a variety of careers, some of which are outlined below:

  • Human resources assistants gather employee information (for example, employment history and performance evaluations) and maintain personnel records. They also assess candidates' eligibility for job openings by examining their resumes and applications. Taking a course in human resources management may benefit students interested in this career by providing an overview of the responsibilities of the human resources department.
  • Human resources generalists assist in an array of human resources functions, including training, recruitment, and payroll and benefits. They may also be responsible for administering human resources programs, policies, and procedures. Courses in human resources management and compensation and benefits management may help prepare students for certain aspects of this career, particularly those involving payroll and benefits and administrating human resources programs. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (bls.gov), employers may require job candidates to have related work experience.
  • Recruitment specialists, also called personnel recruiters, find job applicants by posting jobs, visiting colleges, or attending job fairs. They also screen, interview, and sometimes make job offers to applicants. Taking a communications course may help these specialists gain skills useful for interviewing candidates and accurately conveying the various aspects of open positions.
  • Labor relations specialists administer and analyze labor contracts for such matters as employee welfare, pensions, salary and wage, union practices, and management practices. Individuals interested in this career can gain a basic understanding of how to handle wage, salary, and pension matters through compensation and benefits courses. Business law courses may also provide an overview of contract and employment law issues that labor relations specialists may encounter.

While an associate degree can help qualify individuals for human resources careers, a bachelor's degree is often required. For example, according to bls.gov, holding a bachelor's degree is the minimum educational requirement for compensation and benefits managers and for human resources managers. Students who wish to further their education in human resources management after earning their associate degree should contact an admissions counselor to determine their qualifications.

"Human Resources Managers," U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Outlook Handbook, January 2014, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/management/human-resources-managers.htm

"Information Clerks, U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Outlook Handbook, January 2014, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/office-and-administrative-support/information-clerks.htm

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