6 Human Resources Management Careers You Can Launch with a Master's Degree

human resources management careers

When you think of human resources, what comes to mind? Maybe it's the friendly face down the hall—the person you can turn to with any problems in the workplace. Maybe you think of your benefits and pay. Maybe HR reminds you of the hiring process that landed you your current job. Or maybe it makes you think of why you come in to work every day.

The truth is that HR encompasses all of these areas in the workplace. Whether you're an established HR pro with an eye on advancement or someone just looking to shake-up their career trajectory by earning a Master's degree—you'll want to know what's out there for management-level positions.

To assist with that, we analyzed more than 13,000 human resources job postings to help you better understand the roles where employers may seek candidates with a Master's degree.* Keep in mind this list is based on employer preferences—not every position will require a Master's degree, but it certainly helps to have one.

6 Human resources management careers to consider

These coveted HR roles are some of the top positions in the field—and as you might expect, the competition for them is strong. Read on for a detailed description of what these roles entail.

1. Director of human resources

A director of human resources is the guardian of a company’s human capital, a champion of their culture and a navigator of their development. This role is both integral and authoritative as they are taking on a larger responsibility of leading departments such as training, compensation and recruitment. Like all HR professionals, the director of human resources strikes a balance between advocating for the company and its employees.

The director of human resources takes on a lot of responsibility. They must support internal talent and provide them the means through which they can excel at their jobs. They must support managers, who, in turn, support their direct reports. Directors of human resources must also develop and safeguard a company culture that matches an organization’s values and mission. Some of the skills a director of human resources needs includes the following:*

  • Employee relations
  • Performance management
  • Teamwork/collaboration
  • Budgeting
  • Staff management
  • Talent management
  • Organizational development
  • Succession planning

2. Director of leadership & organizational development

A director of leadership and organizational development focuses on optimizing efficiencies within an organization. They work with a company’s leadership to identify areas needing improvement while aligning with a company’s larger goals and values. A director of leadership and organizational development may specialize in change management and may assist employees through large transitions, such as mergers. They may also assess a company’s human capital and propose restructuring plans to improve efficiencies and provide growth opportunities.

A successful director of leadership and organizational development needs the following skills:*

  • Organizational development
  • Talent management
  • Leadership development
  • Learning management systems
  • Performance management
  • Project management
  • Talent acquisition
  • Employee engagement

3. Director of compensation and benefits

A director of compensation and benefits is a highly important member of upper-level human resources management who is responsible for developing policies for pay and incentives including health, welfare and retirement benefits. They design, manage and oversee continual evaluation of these necessities within an organization. The director of compensation and benefits ensures that compensation packages meet business objectives and legal requirements. This role typically reports to upper management. They may manage pay and benefits for a specific department or entire company, depending on the size of their organization.

Some of the skills a director of compensation and benefits needs includes the following:*

  • Benefits administration and management
  • Budgeting
  • Accounting
  • Collaboration and negotiation
  • Human resources information systems (HRIS)
  • Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) knowledge
  • Job evaluation
  • Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) knowledge

4. Senior human resources specialist

Senior human resources specialists typically touch many different areas within the HR umbrella, including hiring, recruiting, compensation and training. These senior-level specialists may oversee specific subsections of the HR realm, such as risk management, employee relations or benefits. In addition to guiding employees through all HR procedures and policies, senior human resources specialists also apply strategic planning and hiring in order to align their department with an organization’s goals, values and culture.

While the demands of senior HR specialist role will vary depending on the specific focus areas they work in, our analysis of job postings found the following skills to be the most commonly in demand:*

  • Teamwork/collaboration
  • Employee relations
  • Talent acquisition
  • Project management
  • Human Resources Information Systems (HRIS)
  • Onboarding
  • Scheduling
  • Performance management

5. Human resources consultant

Human resources consultants are the pros businesses and organizations call when faced with a challenge they may not have the internal expertise to resolve. For instance, an organization may seek out a human resources consultant to smoothly navigate a change in employee benefits providers. Additionally, organizations often seek out a human resources consultant’s expertise to objectively tackle projects like restructuring the leadership or workflow within an organization or to establish HR processes for the company.

Human resources consultants provide critical recommendations to organizations seeking their expertise. They may work independently or for a consulting firm. They may be contracted to work for an organization for a short amount of time, or to work on larger issues over a longer period. Successful human resources consultants need the following skills:*

  • Teamwork/collaboration
  • Employee relations
  • Performance management
  • Project management
  • Change management
  • Organizational development
  • Business process
  • Customer service

6. Director of training & development

A director of training and development is a human resources management professional who is focused on maximizing the talent within an organization. This individual primarily focuses on the organization’s human capital at the management level. They assess the training needs of this employee base and create methods for enhancing performance through training and development opportunities. A successful director of training and development needs the following skills:*

  • Teamwork/collaboration
  • Training programs
  • Leadership development
  • Onboarding
  • Organizational development
  • Training materials
  • Needs assessment
  • Instructional design

Are you ready for an HR management role?

As you can see, the HR field is vast, varied and multifaceted—and it’s filled with opportunity for individuals who are ready to step up in their career. At the management level, even more doors open for ambitious and business-minded individuals who are ready to take the next step in their career.

If you want to work at the heart of an organization, supporting both the talent and health of the company with strategic leadership, human resources management careers are where you could see your potential play out.

These desirable senior-level positions come with a lot of competition. A Human Resources Management Master’s degree can help put you on a level playing field while equipping you with the knowledge you’ll need to lead.

*Burning-Glass.com (Analysis of 13,953 human resources jobs posted from May 1, 2017 through April 30, 2018).

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Kristina Ericksen

Kristina is a Digital Writer at Collegis Education where she creates informative content on behalf of Rasmussen College. She is passionate about the power of education and enjoys connecting students to bright futures.


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