If you're working in the growing human resource management field, you'll know that keeping up to date with new industry trends, best practices, and other developments is essential for continued success. Professional development is an important component of many jobs, but if you've never pursued it before, you might be asking yourself what an effective human resource management training looks like. There are a number of different options available to human resource professionals interested in HR training programs, all with different goals and benefits.
Why Get Training in Human Resource Management?
Even the most experienced HR professionals can benefit from training and development in human resource management. The human resources field is diverse and fast-changing - human resource managers must have a wide and varied skillset that touches many different facets of an organization's business operations and workplace culture. As employers continue to expand the definition of what human resources does, and what they are responsible for, HR professionals must sharpen or develop their skills in new areas. With constantly changing labor laws, shifting best practices in workplace culture, and new studies being released daily on effective leadership, there's a lot to keep up with!
Training in HRM can be high-level, covering general developments in the field, or it very specific, focusing on one area of specialization (such as leadership or workforce development). That means that it can be beneficial for anyone who works in HR, from professionals just entering the field and looking to hone certain skills to seasoned industry veterans who want to brush up on a skill they haven't used in a while or add a new area of expertise to their resume.
The Difference Between HR Training Programs and HR Education
It's important to note that while human resource management training and development can take on many forms, there is a difference between human resource training and human resource education. While both can fall under the category of professional development - that is, the "process of improving and increasing capabilities of staff through access to education and training opportunities" - they are not the same thing.
HR training programs tend to be less formal than HR education programs, though that is not always the case. Overall, training in HRM is less of a time commitment, often being confined to formats such as seminars, webinars, and conferences, which can range in length from an hour to several days. These can be delivered both online and onsite - for example, the Society for Human Resource Management offers both e-learning and onsite training & development opportunities. In addition to these trainings, they organize an annual general conference, topic-specific conferences, and state & affiliate conferences, which provide year-round opportunities for HR training in a number of subjects.
For individuals who are simply looking for a quick refresher or a one-off deep-dive into a specific subject or skill area, these kinds of trainings might be right for you. Both have their benefits: online trainings are accessible and on-demand which, combined with the small time commitment involved, makes them relatively easy to fit into either your work day or free time. In-person trainings, while requiring more logistical planning in terms of travel and budget, give you the opportunity to network and engage with professionals in a dynamic environment.
It's important to note that most of these training programs have costs associated with them, with some of them being significant. Many employers offer some form of reimbursement for professional development activities, but it's good to keep cost in mind - especially if your organization has a small budget for these kinds of initiatives.
Human Resource Education
As mentioned above, while HR training can be very valuable, it's not the same as pursuing a formal education in human resource management. HR education is usually in the form of a degree or certificate program, either undergraduate or graduate.
Like HR training programs, human resource degree or certificate programs can be very broad or very specific, and are applicable to professionals at all stages of their careers, whether they're looking to enter the HR field or have been working in it for decades. If you're just starting out, a bachelor's degree or undergraduate certificate in human resource management might be a good option to help you build a broad base of general HR skills and competencies. If you've been working in HR but do not have professional training, or simply want to advance in your current role, you might consider pursuing a master's degree in the field. Or, if you are an HR expert looking to add a new skill to your repertoire, a graduate certificate in a specific subject area such as employment law or leadership might be right for you.
HR degree or certificate programs hold quite a bit of weight in employers' eyes - having a degree in human resource management is an important credential that will set you apart from your competition in hiring processes and promotion considerations. While HR training programs can be educational and help you build your skillset, degree programs are more rigorous and will have a much bigger impact on your career prospects and earning potential.
However, it's important to note that because these programs are affiliated with higher education institutions, they will require a bit more planning on your part in order to participate. While most HR training programs simply require a deposit, or perhaps an affiliation with a particular industry group, to enroll in an HR degree program, you will need to complete the admissions process at the institution of your choice, which will typically include filling out a formal application, writing one or more essays, accessing old transcripts from prior educational experiences, and applying for financial aid.
You will also need to be conscious of the time commitment: degree and certificate programs will require, at a minimum, a semester's worth of work - and often significantly more than that. You can usually expect to spend between 10 and 15 hours per week on your coursework, and so it's important to think carefully about how you will carve that time out of your busy schedule. This is often easier with online human resource management degree programs as opposed to on-campus programs, because they allow you to attend classes and complete assignments on your own time, when it's convenient for you, whether that's before work or after your kids have gone to bed.
Additionally, degree programs can be expensive. While there are many options available to help you offset the cost, including federal student loans and employer tuition reimbursement, you will still need to figure out how you are going to pay for your education.
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