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Do I Need A Degree For A Career In Human Resources?

For a career yes, for a job no. Some time ago I was talking to a recruitment consultant about a potential job move, and we did the usual thing about salary expectations. When I talked about my expectations she was taken aback and said very directly that most people would view my then salary as amazing, I casually said that my current salary was simply a stepping stone – a place holder along with my career. And this is where you need to identify for yourself where you want to be salary-wise, if you want to earn say up to $55,000 then a degree will be less necessary than if you want to earn above this and potentially move into the six figures, and most certainly if you want to be one of the top HR people globally and have a salary package in the seven figures. I’ve seen this degree bias happen on a number of occasions, indeed I’ve been party to conversations where recently promoted individuals have been told that without a degree this is as far up as they are going – this was in an organization where the managers cared pretty hard about their employees.

As always there are exceptions, I’ve experienced HR teams where you didn’t get a look in the door if you didn’t have a degree – not because of an actual knowledge requirement, but because the manager believed their team should all have degrees. Again I’ve been the outsider in teams because I did have a degree – if you’re in this situation apply for another job now, trust me it just doesn’t work out. So the need for a degree rests on a few things, how far up the ladder do you want to go? Also what industry do you want to work in – I’ve worked in a number of technology companies and having a degree was expected, while some industries' degrees may be less common. However having a degree isn’t the passport that it used to be, so if you’re in a situation where you don’t have a degree, consider if the time and effort to get one will actually pay off for you.

If you’re based in the US, why not take a look at Degrees Finder, and see what your study options are?

Want to leave the HR work to the professionals? Here's a list that can help you: 10 Best Professional Employer Organizations (PEO) 2022

By Brendan Lys

Operating at the intersection of Human Resources and Data Science, I leverage extensive specialist experience within Human Resources, with the methodologies and approaches of Data Science. This focus on the discovery of actionable insights from data, has been applied to areas such as: remuneration & benefits, workforce planning, recruitment, health & safety, diversity, and training. But what does the application of data science to HR challenges and opportunities actually look like. Within an HR framework the data we work with typically comes directly from our HRMIS, an advantage of using data science methodologies is that we can bring in additional data either held within the organization or from external sources - data which is out of reach from a pure HR analytics approach. Consider for example position descriptions, these contain a wealth of data that we typically ignore as its not in a analysis ready format. A side project I'm working on currently (April 2019) is using text mining on job descriptions to provide insights into which job family the position may fit into. The insights of my work have been enjoyed by organizations across a diversity of sectors including: Government (Australia and New Zealand), ASX and NZX listed companies, utilities, not for profit and higher education.

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