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Bachelors and Masters Programs for a Human Resources Management Career in Washington DC

One of the ways DC-based businesses, defense contractors and Federal agencies attract top HR professionals is by offering some of the highest average salaries in the nation. The US Department of Labor released the following figures in its most recent report (2015):

  • Human Resources Specialists – highest average salary compared with all other states in the nation
  • Compensation, Benefits, and Job Analysis Specialists – highest average salary in the nation
  • Training and Development Specialists – highest average salary in the nation
  • Human Resources Managers – second-highest average salary in the nation
  • Administrative Services Managers – third-highest average salary
  • Training and Development Managers – third-highest average salary in the nation
  • Labor Relations Specialists – fifth-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

Beyond enjoying some of the best salaries available in their field nationwide, HR professionals are also able to look forward to a strengthening job market. A 2013 Gallup poll ranked DC second in the nation against all states as having the highest rate of job creation. As more people enter the workforce, the demand will rise for the skilled HR professionals that recruit, train, and support this new workforce.

In 2014 the Washington Post compiled a list of the largest employers and their workforce sizes for the DC area. As the areas leading employers, these companies also have some of the largest HR departments:

  • Verizon Communications – 11,800 employees
  • Kaiser Permanente – 7,100 employees
  • FedEx – 5,000 employees
  • Raytheon – 4,200 employees
  • Comcast – 3,170 employees

Exploring Human Resources Careers in Washington DC

Using figures from the US Department of Commerce, the District of Columbia’s total workforce of 844,260 can be divided into two basic categories:

  • Private-sector non-farm workforce – 593,120 people
  • Federal government workforce – 251,140 people in total, which can be further broken down:
    • 200,751 civilian federal employees
    • 35,270 local DC government employees
    • 15,119 military federal employees

The following human resources job descriptions offer insight into what some of DC’s top employers are looking fro from the HR professionals they hire (from a survey of job vacancies taken in May 2015 and shown for illustrative purposes only):

Private Sector HR Job Descriptions

  • Senior Recruiter with Verizon Wireless – This professional works as part of Verizon’s Global Talent Acquisition Team, leading recruitment efforts of candidates who are applying from around the world. The incumbent will work closely with HR Business Partner teams to set their talent acquisition strategy and goals.
  • Human Resources Leader with Kaiser Permanente – This professional is responsible for directing and leading complex local HR planning initiatives, as well as working with hospitals and/or medical offices. The incumbent will provide HR solutions, direction, and guidance to senior leadership teams and executives.
  • Employee and Labor Relations Consultant with Raytheon – This professional will team with the Labor Relations Manager to work with management and collective bargaining agreements. Incumbents will advise all levels of Raytheon management in regards to labor laws and collective bargaining agreements.

Job Descriptions for Federal HR Positions

  • Human Resources Specialist (GS-07) with the US Capitol Police – This professional is tasked with applying basic HR procedures to develop and maintain manuals, instructions, and operating procedures for assigned HR programs. An important part of this position is the maintenance of this agency’s HR information system. Other duties include processing personnel actions that affect employees.
  • Human Resources Assistant (GS-06) with the Peace Corps – This professional can work with many different HR functions within this organization. Duties may include supporting an employee awards program, a labor and employee relations event, or a performance management program.
  • HR Specialist (Policy) with the local DC government – This professional is responsible for serving as a resource and providing authoritative leadership in human resources management. An important aspect of this position is ensuring HR programs and policies are in compliance with the Comprehensive Merritt Personnel Act. The incumbent must also ensure District-wide HR rules and policies are being met.

Federal jobs are listed on the website USAJOBS. These positions are classified according to the General Schedule (GS), a 15-level scale that delineates education and experience requirements. Local government HR careers can be found through the DC Department of Human Resources.

Earning the Right Degree for a Career in Human Resources

One of the best long-term career investments prospective HR professionals can make is education. A four-year degree is often a requirement for entry-level HR positions for specialists, generalist and lower-level managers, while a graduate degree can lead to more advanced career opportunities in upper-level management and business leadership positions.

The DC area is home to a number of colleges and universities that offer undergraduate and graduate programs in human resources – both online and in traditional classroom settings.

Bachelor’s Degree in Human Resources

A bachelor’s degree in human resources will typically include a segment of lower-division courses and prerequisites, followed by more specialized upper-division undergraduate classes. For example, the course progression may look something like this:

  • Speech
  • Macroeconomics
  • Microeconomics
  • Report writing
  • Business mathematics
  • Managerial accounting
  • Introduction to human resources management
  • Organizational behavior
  • Managing HR changes
  • HR law and employee safety
  • Diversity in human resources

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

  • Senior Recruiter with Verizon Wireless – Candidates for this position must have at least a bachelors degree in a field related to Human Resources or Business Administration
  • Human Resources Leader with Kaiser Permanente – Applicants for this position must have a bachelors degree in a field related to Human Resources, Public Health, Psychology, or Business Administration
  • Employee and Labor Relations Consultant with Raytheon – Candidates for this position must have at least a bachelors degree in a field such as Human Resources or Business
  • HR Specialist (Policy) with the local DC government – Applicants can qualify for this position with a bachelors degree or an equivalent combination of education and experience

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

HR professionals interested in a graduate degree in human resource management (HRM) will need to start by determining the admission requirements for their particular graduate school. These can typically include:

  • Undergraduate degree in any subject
  • Undergraduate degree that includes certain HR prerequisite courses or a major
  • Minimum GPA requirement
  • GMAT or GRE exams
  • Letters of recommendation and personal essays

HR graduate schools offer general HR degrees, as well as degrees that offer particular HR tracks, such as:

  • MBA in Human Resource Management
  • One-year graduate certificate in Human Resources
  • Masters degree in Human Resources, with a concentration in:
    • Strategic human capital management
    • International HR
    • Inclusion and diversity management

Each program of study will have different specialized courses, and include a general repertoire of coverage for subjects like:

  • HR compensation and benefits
  • Strategic HR planning theory
  • Research methodology and practices in HR
  • Creating and sustaining an inclusive HR climate
  • Workplace ethics
  • Global HR theory and practice

Candidates can fulfill the education requirements for the following careers with a master’s degree in HRM or another area of the human resources field (from a survey of job vacancies taken in May 2015 and shown for illustrative purposes only):

  • Human Resources Leader with Kaiser Permanente – Candidates for this position are preferred to have a masters degree in a field related to Human Resources, Psychology, or Business Administration
  • Employee and Labor Relations Consultant with Raytheon – Applicants for this position are preferred to have a masters degree in Human Resources
  • Human Resources Specialist (GS-07) with the US Capitol Police – Candidates can qualify for this position by having at least one year of graduate-level studies or an exceptional academic record as an undergraduate
  • Human Resources Assistant (GS-06) with the Peace Corps – Candidates can qualify for this position by having at least one year of graduate-level education in an HR-related field
  • Human Resources Manager with BAE Systems – Candidates for this position are preferred to have a masters degree

Professional Human Resources Certification

There are several national organizations that offer professional HR certification to qualifying candidates. The following are some of the most commonly preferred – and sometimes required – HR certifications:

  • Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), which offers the Certified Professional (SHRM-CP) credential for candidates who have passed an exam and qualified in one of the following ways:
    • 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

  • International Public Management Association for Human Resources (IPMA-HR), which offers the IPMA-CP certification for HR professionals who have qualified through one of these routes:
    • Eight years of HR experience which includes at least one year in the public sector
    • An associates degree and six years of HR experience which includes at least one year in the public sector
    • A bachelors degree and four years of HR experience which includes at least one year in the public sector
    • A masters degree or higher with two years of HR experience which includes at least one year in the public sector

Examples of careers that either prefer or require a professional HR certification include:

  • Human Resources Leader with Kaiser Permanente
  • Human Resources Manager with BAE Systems
  • HR Administrator with AMEX International
  • HR Generalist with the National Council of Architectural Registration Board
  • Human Resources Generalist with Sodexo

Resources for Prospective HR Professionals

Aspiring HR professionals can find many local resources throughout the Washington DC area:

Professional Organizations

Major HR Departments

Professional Staffing Agencies

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