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Is a College Degree Necessary to Work in Human Resources?


Dean presenting graduate students with awards outside college
Barry Austin Photography/ Iconica/ Getty Images
Question: Is a College Degree Necessary to Work in Human Resources?

No, you don't have to have a degree to work in the field of Human Resources, but the lack of a degree will limit you to the lowest level, less knowledge-based functions in the HR office. When HR Assistants come to work with a Bachelor's degree for $30,000, why would a forward thinking office hire an employee without a degree?

That said, there are some jobs as HR Administrators or as Payroll Specialists that may not require a degree. You will also not expect to advance very far in your HR career in these roles without a degree.

Increasingly, however, HR professionals have both Bachelor's degrees and Master's degrees. Since HR is a highly competitive field, the more education you have, in appropriate subjects, the better your chance for excellent job prospects and a successful career. Another trend I am seeing is HR Directors with a Ph.D. and/or a Juris Doctor (J.D.), legal degree.

Many longer term HR professionals argue that a degree is unnecessary, that they built a successful career up to and including positions as Vice President, without a degree. But, this is not the trend for jobs in HR. An HR professional, who wants to participate in the strategic leadership of a business, needs a degree.

This topic sparks more controversy than almost anything else on this Web site. Take a look at my poll: Do HR Leaders Need Degrees? and Why Human Resources Leaders Need Degrees.

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