By Scott Wilson
Human resources management is a field going through two revolutions at the same time:
- Increasing values for human capital in talent-driven industries like technology, entertainment, and social media make HR a key strategic differentiator for modern companies
- New data-gathering and analytical abilities offer fresh ways of looking at old HR management problems and new tools for building key corporate expertise
Put those two trends together, and you have a department that is in desperate need for highly-trained, technically-minded managers and executives.
Most business degrees include at least some HR training today, but it’s a field that definitely requires specialization. Depending on the level of your degree and the field it’s in, you can improve your chances of making your shot at a lucrative HR career by earning a graduate certificate in HR analytics and management.
Watch for the Difference Between Certificates and Certifications
That graduate certificate isn’t the same thing as a certification. HR certifications are credentials offered by professional associations and industry trade groups. Certificates are awarded by colleges or other educational foundations.
A certification verifies your knowledge, experience, and qualifications in human resources; a certificate program helps give you that knowledge and those skills in the first place.
Popular HR certifications are a valuable addition to your resume. They include:
- Professional in Human Resources
- Society for Human Resources Certified Professional/Senior Certified Professional
- Strategical Human Resources Leadership
- Certified Human Resources Professional
- Talent Management Practitioner
To earn those, however, you typically need both training and experience. Many also require that you pass a knowledge-based tested before they can be awarded.
A certificate program is the best way to prepare yourself for a job in HR and eventual certification in the field.
Every Industry Needs HR Professionals With Expert Analytical Training
Human resources teams keep the heart of every company beating. They are responsible for key tasks like:
- Posting open positions and conducting applicant reviews
- Developing compensation plans and retention policies
- Overseeing benefit program administration, like health insurance and retirement funds
- Assisting in negotiations with organized labor
- Developing training programs
- Handling staff complaints or issues of employment law that come up within the company
It’s a broad range of responsibilities but it’s all more important than ever. In an era where star employees in high-demand fields can make or break a company, HR is responsible for keeping them happy and helping them shine.
That takes the use of every ounce of leadership potential an HR manager has. It also gets a boost from new tools and technologies, everything from workstation monitoring software to massive datasets with industry compensation data. The most valuable HR managers are the ones who are most adept at using these new technologies to the company’s advantage.
Management and Analytics Certificates in HR Boost Salaries in Any Industry
That value comes out in the eye-popping salaries found in HR management jobs today.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median salary for HR managers in 2021 came out at $126,230 per year.
A graduate certificate in human resources analytics and management alone won’t necessarily put you into six figures in HR management. But it can help focus your career into a lane that will lead to those levels of compensation.
That’s particularly true when you look at the industries where HR managers make the most. According to BLS, the top five are:
- Professional, scientific, and technical services – $133,980
- Management of companies and enterprises – $130,340
- Manufacturing – $125,080
- Government – $102,520
- Healthcare and social assistance – $99,870
Those are all fields where analytics are a key differentiator. And with that kind of training, you can eventually end up in the top ten percent of HR managers, who makes more than $208,000 annually.
Choosing the Right Graduate Certificate Program in Human Resource Analytics and Management
Certificate programs in highly specialized areas like HR analytics and management aren’t new. With rapid changes in the field, various organizations have been helping HR professional get up to speed with fast-paced courses for years.
But graduate certificates are increasingly being offered by the same colleges and universities that offer advanced degrees in human resource management and business. You’ll find some of the same coursework and instructors in their certificate programs. And that means you need to approach picking those programs in the same way you might select a graduate school:
- Look at the instructors – Top quality instructors can make or break a program. Those with strong real-world HR experience and an academic track record that includes publication and research highlights are going to offer the kind of personal attention and expert insight you need.
- Evaluate the reputation – Reputation matters in HR education just like it does in business hiring. You are picking resumes out of a stack based on where candidates have been trained; your future employers are doing the same with yours. So names that mean something in the field are always a good idea.
- Consider industry affiliations – With an emphasis on real-world examples and projects, HR certificates can vary a lot depending on what businesses a school is partnered with. Find schools that are associated with the kinds of industries you are interested in.
- Look for specialty accreditation – Business schools typically have a specialty accreditation from one of the big three specialty business accreditors: IACBE, AACSB, or ACBSP. That stamp of approval may not cover certificates, but it does mean the school itself meets their high standards. Also look for programs with curriculum aligned with the Curriculum Guidebook published by the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), the standards bearer in the field of HR management.
Online Certificate Programs in HR Analytics and Management Provide Opportunities for Everyone
Like many other kinds of higher education, HR analytics and management certificates are now often offered online and part-time.
That’s a huge benefit for many students who are actively employed and balancing family and professional demands already. You get the option of picking a school that offers the right fit for your goals, even if it’s halfway across the country.
When you need to carve out time for a school play or taking someone to a doctor’s appointment, online programs mean you don’t need to make hard choices between your career and your family.
Online programs are usually offered asynchronously, which means you can shift your studies around to any time of day that makes sense. Participating through group chats, streaming recorded lectures, or uploading assignments through learning management systems can be done when it’s convenient, not just on a fixed schedule.
How Human Resources Analytics and Management Certificates Accelerate Your Skill-building in Key Areas
A graduate certificate in HR analytics and management offers master’s-level coursework in a focused part of the broad field of human resources. It’s advanced training that can make sense for anyone with a bachelor’s degree in business or HR who wants to get a quick start in HR management, or for MBA graduates who didn’t specialize in HR in their own master’s program but want to build their abilities in the field.
You’ll accomplish all that through a course of study that can usually be completed in just a few months, often incorporating curriculum taken directly from advanced degree programs in the field offered at the same school.
Your certificate studies are likely to mirror what you’d find in any other kind of HRM graduate program, including:
- Team-based projects and simulation work
- Case study discussions and round-tables
- Real-world applications and practical challenges
HR Analytics and Management Grad-level Coursework Keeps You Focused
A certificate program only has room for a handful of classes. So, there is no room for anything that isn’t laser-focused on improving your core skills in the most important subjects in HR management and analytics.
Those are likely to include:
- Talent acquisition and management – Getting the best people in the door and keeping them happy is the name of the game in modern HR. These courses teach you how to identify the right candidates, build offers to lock them in, and keep them happy and productive once they are on board.
- Performance tracking and predictive analytics – The explosion of metrics that have come with Big Data can be daunting, but these classes teach you how to identify the right data points to track and evaluate to see how employees are performing. You’ll also learn about new systems that help you evaluate future performance, giving executives key information about strategic decision-making and evaluating staffing changes before they happen to find the best results.
- Compensation and benefits analysis – Offering a competitive compensation package is often the hardest part of an HR manager’s job. These classes teach you how to evaluate industry standards for pay and benefits, and how to structure employment deals to create win/win scenarios for both company and employees.
- Legal and ethical considerations in HR – According to the Equal Opportunity Employment Commission, more than 61,000 charges were filed for discrimination in 2021. And those are just the complaints that make it to actual legal action—many more are received and handled by in-house HR teams. That means your understanding of legal and ethical requirements is critical, and coursework like this will help you develop it.
Different certificate programs may offer different combinations or focus areas that help you specialize further in any of those topics, however. You’ll need to find a program that has the right fit for your career goals or to cover the gaps in your current knowledge.
With that certificate on your resume, you’ll have the proof you need to angle for a promotion or make the career change you are looking for in HR.
2021 US Bureau of Labor Statistics salary and job market figures for Human Resources Managers represent national data, not school-specific information. Conditions in your area may vary. Data accessed in September 2022.