Bachelors and Masters Programs for a Human Resources Management Career in California

California leads the nation for total personnel numbers in each HR occupational classification, and shows promising growth projections over the long-term period between 2012 and 2022 (US Department of Labor and the California Employment Development Department, 2015):

  • Training and Development Specialists – 22,190 professionals and the highest average salary in the nation; projected growth through 2022: 24 percent
  • Human Resources Specialists – 50,790 professionals and the second-highest average salary in the nation; projected growth through 2022: 15 percent
  • Training and Development Managers – 2,950 professionals and the third-highest average salary in the nation; projected growth through 2022: 19 percent
  • Human Resources Managers – 15,300 professionals; projected statewide job growth through 2022: 20 percent
  • Administrative Services Managers – 38,410 professionals; projected statewide job growth through 2022: 16 percent
  • Compensation and Benefits Managers – 1,690 professionals; projected statewide job growth through 2022: 11 percent
  • Compensation, Benefits, and Job Analysis Specialists – 11,840 professionals; projected growth through 2022: 7 percent
  • Labor Relations Specialists – 9,040 professionals and the second-highest average salary in the nation

Featured Programs:

Capella offers 100% online DBA, PhD, MS, and BS degrees in Human Resources Management. These programs are designed to prepare you to enhance the performance of organizations and to foster innovative workplaces whether you are new to Human Resources or a seasoned professional. Click here to request information about Capella's Human Resource Management degrees.

Benedictine University offers an online Bachelor of Arts in Management with a concentration in Human Resources Management. Courses in the concentration are 100 percent online and examine employee recruitment strategies, performance and appraisal management, compensation and benefits administration, and employment law. Students may be able to transfer up to 90 credits from previous undergraduate work. Classes start every eight weeks – Click here to learn more.

The University of Scranton's online Master of Science in Human Resources program offers a curriculum that fully aligns with the Society for Human Resource Management's (SHRM) HR Curriculum Guidebook and Templates. The rigorous coursework integrates the most up-to-date research and incorporates human resource best practices to illustrate how HR professionals achieve organizational goals. Click here to request information.

Offered within the Haub School of Business, which holds dual AACSB International accreditation, the MS in Strategic Human Resource Management from Saint Joseph's University's program will transform you into a strategic partner within your HR profession. Click here to request information

With a GSP (Gross State Product) that ranks somewhere in the world’s top 20, California’s economy is roughly the size of Canada’s GDP. Human resources professionals in California contribute to ensuring the country’s largest economy performs efficiently and competitively.

HR professionals carry the heavy responsibility of recruiting, vetting, training, and maintaining the nation’s largest workforce. This includes in the major sectors that comprise most of California’s economy, as reported by the US Bureau of Economic Analysis in 2013:

  • Total employment in California – 21.45 million professionals
    • Government and government enterprises – 2.59 million professionals
    • Healthcare and social assistance – 2.36 million professionals
    • Retail trade – 2.00 million professionals
    • Professional, scientific, and technical services – 1.84 million professionals
    • Manufacturing, including computers and electronics – 1.36 million professionals
    • Real estate – 1.23 million professionals
    • Finance and insurance – 1.03 million professionals
    • Construction – 967,007 professionals
    • Transportation and warehousing – 633,750 professionals
    • Information, including movies, publishing, and telecommunications – 533,794 professionals
    • Forestry and fishing – 235,963 professionals
    • Management of companies and enterprises – 234,681 professionals
    • Farming – 232,548 professionals

Human Resources Careers in California’s Major Employment Sectors

California’s human resource employers can be divided into three main categories:

  • Private sector (excluding farming) – workforce of 18.63 million
  • State and local government – workforce of 2.13 million
  • Federal government (civilian and military) – workforce of 460,478

The general role of HR professional across the categories is similar. State and local governments as well as companies in the private sector all have specific job descriptions based on the needs of the organization. The hiring process, qualifications, and job descriptions for federal HR professionals is streamlined.

California’s largest employers operating within the state’s key sectors also have the largest and most extensive human resources departments:

  • Los Angeles Unified School District
  • Tesla Motors
  • Monster Beverage
  • City of San Francisco
  • Activision Blizzard
  • City of Los Angeles
  • Western Digital
  • Applied Materials
  • Disneyland Resort
  • Life Technologies
  • City of San Jose
  • University of California System
  • Agilent Technologies
  • Apple
  • City of San Diego
  • Adobe Systems
  • Occidental Petroleum
  • DirectTV
  • eBay

Private-Sector

Training, recruitment, and personnel management are some of the most common duties of HR professionals with private-sector employers. Fully comprehensive job descriptions for positions with top industry employers can be seen here (from a survey of job vacancies taken in May 2015 and shown for illustrative purposes only):

  • Labor Relations Manager with Walt Disney World Parks and Resorts in Anaheim – This professional is responsible for providing management and employees with guidance regarding employment law, collective bargaining agreements, and company policies. The incumbent will create summaries and reports about labor relations, interact with employees and management at all levels as well as with government officials as necessary.
  • Human Resources Business Partner with Apple in the Santa Clara Valley – One of many classes of HR professionals, this person works with Apple’s marketing department, specifically the Apps Review Team. The incumbent coordinates with managers and employees, serving as a resource for compensation, organizational design, employee retention, and promotions.
  • HR Business Partner Director with eBay in San Jose – This upper-level professional works with senior business leaders to create and implement innovative HR solutions that maximize organizational and operational effectiveness. This includes strategic planning and meeting business goals.
  • Leadership Technical Sourcer with Tesla Motors in Fremont – Working within the company’s Leadership Recruiting Team, this professional is responsible for recruiting the most talented engineering applicants from within the company and around the world. The incumbent will develop HR and staffing strategies to accomplish this goal in a dynamic working environment.

State and Local Government

Each state and local government agency, ranging from municipalities to health departments to schools, has its own HR job descriptions and hiring requirements as exemplified by the following positions (from a survey of job vacancies taken in May 2015 and shown for illustrative purposes only):

  • Human Resource Specialist I with the Los Angeles Unified School District – This professional is responsible for creating job classifications, salary evaluations, employment entrance examinations, staff trainings, data analysis tools, and compiling reports. Incumbents may also conduct interviews and develop employee recruitment strategies.
  • Institutional Personnel Officer II with the State of California – This professional is responsible for at least one personnel management programs within the State of California. Duties include supervising payroll, developing job classification and compensation schedules, and providing knowledge to employees about workers’ compensation programs.
  • HR Generalist 2 with the University of California, Berkeley – This professional will be primarily responsible for screening resumes, reviewing applications, and conducting interviews with candidates for student positions. The incumbent will also serve as the point of contact for other university departments that are working in collaboration with HR.

Federal Government

Federal HR careers in California include everything from positions with the US Forest Service to the Department of the Army. The federal government classifies its positions according to its General Schedule (GS), a 15-level scale that delineates required education and/or experience. Some examples include (from a survey of job vacancies taken in May 2015 and shown for illustrative purposes only):

  • Human Resources Assistant (GS-05) with the Department of the Navy in San Diego – Working within the CNIC (Commander, Navy Installations Command) Human Resource Office (HRO), this professional is responsible for providing centralized support. Duties include clerical and technical support in areas such as staffing and job classification.
  • Human Resources Assistant (GS-07) with the Department of the Army in Sacramento – Working within the Military Personnel Office of the Army National Guard, this professional is responsible for conducting a final review of personnel actions that are submitted by lower branches. Incumbents work in areas such as Personnel Systems Management, Montgomery GI Bill, Military Medical Support Office, and Line of Duty investigations.

Earning the Right Degree for a Career in Human Resources

While generalist, specialist and lower-to-mid-level management positions typically require a bachelor’s degree in human resources or HR management, upper-level management, director, and executive leadership positions typically call for a master’s degree or specialized MBA in human resource management.

Bachelor’s Degree in Human Resources

A bachelor’s degree in HR or HR management will lay a strong foundation of essential knowledge and can pave the way for a long-term career. Colleges and universities throughout the state offer both traditional and online four-year programs in HR for prospective in-state students:

  • Bachelor of Science or Arts (BA or BS) in Human Resources
  • Bachelor of Science or Arts (BA or BS) in Human Resource Management
  • Bachelor of Science in Business – Human Resource Management
  • Bachelor of Business Administration (BBA) in Human Resources

A bachelor’s degree in human resources will usually start with general introductory courses that progress to specialized upper-division HR courses, such as these:

  • Report writing and composition
  • Behavioral psychology
  • Macro and micro economics
  • Foundations in human resources management
  • Collective bargaining and labor relations
  • Employee development and training
  • Staffing organization
  • Supervisory management
  • Compensation management

A bachelor’s degree in human resources meets the education requirements for the following jobs (from a survey of job vacancies taken in May 2015; shown for illustrative purposes only):

  • Labor Relations Manager with Walt Disney World Parks and Resorts in Anaheim – Applicants are required to have a bachelor’s degree or equivalent work experience
  • Human Resources Business Partner with Apple in the Santa Clara Valley – The minimum requirements for this position can usually be met with a bachelor’s degree
  • HR Business Partner Director with eBay in San Jose – Candidates must have a bachelor’s degree or equivalent experience in a field related to human resources management or business administration
  • Leadership Technical Sourcer with Tesla Motors in Fremont – Candidates must have at least a bachelor’s degree that is supported by a strong academic record
  • Human Resource Specialist I with the Los Angeles Unified School District – Candidates must have at least a bachelor’s degree, preferably with a major in human resources, public administration, personnel management, or behavioral science
  • HR Generalist 2 with the University of California, Berkeley – Candidates can qualify for this position with a bachelor’s degree in a relevant field or by possessing an equivalent amount of experience and training

Master’s Degree in Human Resources – MBA in Human Resource Management

Colleges and universities throughout California offer online and traditional master’s degree programs that attract future HR leaders from within the state and across the world.

The first step to completing one of these programs is to meet the master’s admission requirements, which can include:

  • Any undergraduate degree
  • Bachelors degree in a field related to Business or Human Resources
  • Minimum cumulative GPA and a core-courses minimum GPA
  • Exams such as the GMAT or GRE
  • Essays and letters of reference

Master’s programs in Human Resources are typically two years in length and will cover topics like:

  • Employee relations
  • Strategic HR planning
  • Advanced managerial process
  • Compensation design and administration
  • International HR management
  • Effective HR management strategies
  • Organizational leadership

MBA in Human Resource Management programs cover many similar topics, tied in with an additional focus on business administration:

  • Marketing and financial HR management
  • The research and management process
  • International business management
  • Management information systems

Candidates can meet the education requirements for the following jobs with a master’s degree in human resources management (from a survey of job vacancies taken in May 2015 and shown for illustrative purposes only):

  • Labor Relations Manager with Walt Disney World Parks and Resorts in Anaheim – Applicants are expected to have an MBA or JD degree
  • Human Resources Business Partner with Apple in the Santa Clara Valley – Candidates can usually meet the minimum requirements for this position with a master’s degree, such as an MBA
  • HR Business Partner Director with eBay in San Jose – Candidates who have an advanced degree in Human Resources or Business Administration are preferred
  • Human Resource Specialist III with the Los Angeles Unified School District – Candidates can qualify for this position with a master’s degree in Human Resources Administration or Organizational Psychology, plus one year of related experience
  • Institutional Personnel Officer II with the State of California – Candidates can qualify for this position by having at least one year of graduate-level studies in a field that is related to Personnel, Business Administration, Industrial Relations, Psychology, or Political Science, plus six months of experience as a Staff Services Analyst with the state
  • Human Resources Assistant (GS-07) with the Department of the Army in Sacramento – Applicants can qualify for this position by having at least one year of graduate-level college education

Professional HR Certifications

In some cases employers may also prefer or require their applicants to have a professional HR certification. There are a number of companies throughout the nation that offer HR certifications, with some of the more prominent including:

  • Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), sponsor of the Certified Professional (SHRM-CP) credential – requires eligibility through one of these routes:
    • Four years of work experience in human resources
    • Some college education in an HR field plus three years of related work experience
    • Bachelors degree in an HR field plus one year of related work experience
    • Masters degree in an HR field plus current related employment

Professional Associations and Employers for California’s HR Professionals

Prospective and existing HR professionals can find additional resources with the following agencies:

Professional HR Organizations

Major HR Departments

HR Staffing Companies

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