Responsibilities of human resources (HR) departments have broadened over recent years in response to changes in laws on healthcare insurance, equal opportunity employment, workplace safety and information technology. Plus, the COVID-19 pandemic upended workplace structures and environments, creating a wealth of new considerations, challenges and even opportunities for HR. As a result, the profession has expanded to include roles that focus on these and other specialty areas.
Full-scale HR departments in large organizations need expertise in these specialty roles to fulfill their function’s strategic business role and to continue providing a great employee experience and fostering a positive company culture for their end users. Smaller organizations also need help in these specialty areas and often depend on the services of HR specialty consultants to meet their needs.
While some specialties prefer or require a Master of Business Administration (MBA) degree, an MBA can give job candidates a competitive edge regardless of job requirements. As noted by the career site Monster, “Because an understanding of business operations is crucial for those wanting to advance to a human resources management role, experts say an MBA carries the most weight among advanced degree programs.”
If you want to pursue an MBA, consider the online MBA with an emphasis in Human Resources Management program from the University of West Florida (UWF). The program offers the flexibility of online learning and the combination of advanced business and HR-focused education you need for the HR specialties described below.
High Demand for 5 Human Resources Specialties
While there are many HR specialty areas, the need for professionals in the following five specialties is especially fast-growing, as reported with salary data from Monster.
- Employee Assistance Plan (EAP) Manager: This role goes by several other titles, including employee welfare manager, work and family programs manager, or work-life manager. Regardless of the title, this role may oversee programs such as:
- Counseling services
- Child-care and elder-care programs
- Flex-time programs
- Occupational safety and health standards and practices
- Health and physical-fitness plans
- Food service and recreational activities
- Medical examinations
Education: A bachelor’s degree and frequently a master’s degree in human resources management
Experience: At least five years of HR experience
Median salary: $122,270 per year
- Employment, Recruitment and Placement Specialist:Recruiter is another name for this role. Responsibilities include:
- Recruiting and placing workers
- Attending job fairs and visiting college campuses to scout promising job applicants
- Screening, interviewing and testing applicants
- Checking references
- Extending job offers
Education: A bachelor’s degree in psychology or business management
Median salary: $52,721 per year
- Training and Development Specialist:Several specialized HR positions may fill this role. A person in the combined role facilitates and supervises employee training and development programs. Generally, a training and development specialist works with training managers and staff supervisors to define performance improvement measures, facilitate orientation sessions and arrange training to help workers enhance job skills.
Education: A bachelor’s degree in business administration or business management, with some employers requiring an MBA degree
Experience: More than five years of HR-related experience
Median salary: $53,691 per year
- Human Resources Information System (HRIS) Analyst: This role coordinates, communicates and implements changes to HR information systems. As recruiting, screening, payroll and benefit management processes become increasingly automated, this specialized professional role is becoming more commonplace.
Education: A bachelor’s degree in information systems or a related field
Median salary: $68,775 per year
- Compensation and Benefits Manager: This role designs, implements and oversees an organization’s programs, policies and procedures relevant to salaries, benefits, rewards and sometimes healthcare, other insurance coverage, pensions and retirement plans.
Education: A bachelor’s degree in human resources management, with some employers preferring a master’s degree in management or human resources
Experience: At least five years in the field or a related area
Median salary: $79,026 per year
The above are just a few evolving HR specialty roles. An MBA in HR management can prepare you to succeed in all these roles and various other leadership positions in the field. For instance, experience and education could help you advance your career in training and development to the managerial level, a position with a median annual salary of $120,130 in 2021, according to data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). In addition, this type of specialty can also open doors to unique careers in corporate training, highlighting the versatility of earning an MBA.
Learn more about UWF’s online MBA with an emphasis in Human Resources Management.