Human resource specialist jobs are listed among Tennessee’s top growing occupations, with an expected average of 200 new jobs becoming available each year between 2012 and 2022, according to the Tennessee Department of Labor and Workforce Development. In fact, during that time period, the number of jobs for both HR managers and HR specialists is expected to grow by 10 percent.
Because human resource professionals are responsible for recruiting, interviewing, hiring, and training employees, Tennessee’s overall workforce growth inherently indicates growth in the field of human resources. This is reflected in the state’s unemployment rate, which has fallen to just 6.4 percent as of 2015, and is expected to continue falling through 2022, according to the Tennessee Department of Labor.
This drop in unemployment means that, between 2012 and 2022, the Department of Labor expects over 15,600 new jobs to be added to the Tennessee workforce.
Tennessee’s top employers, who contribute to the development and strengthening of the state’s workforce, include:
- Covenant Health – 9,328 employees
- Knox County Schools – 6,771 employees
- The University of Tennessee, Knoxville – 6,409 employees
- Y-12 National Security Complex – 5,040 employees
- Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. – 4,668 employees
- Tennova Healthcare – 4,613 employees
- Oak Ridge National Lab – 4,565 employees
- University of Tennessee Medical Center (UHS) – 3,968 employees
Exploring Careers in Human Resources with Tennessee’s Top Employers
The field of human resources is comprised of many different job titles, including, but not limited to:
- Human resources assistant
- Recruiting Coordinator
- Human resources specialist
- Employee Relations Coordinator
- Human resources manager
- Training and Development Supervisor
- Human Resources Partner
- Talent Acquisition Coordinator
Jobs such as these are necessary for the smooth functioning of federal government agencies, state and local government agencies, and in private businesses throughout Tennessee.
Human Resource Careers for the Federal Government in Tennessee
The Y-12 National Security Complex was the fourth largest employer in Tennessee as of 2014. Human resource professionals may search for human resources job openings in the Y-12 National Security Complex.
Along with this, human resources professionals may search USA Jobs to look for other human resources careers in the federal government. USA Jobs searches job opportunities in various federal departments, such as the Department of Health and Human Services and the Department of the Military.
These jobs will be classified based on different educational levels from GS-04 to GS-12. For these varying job levels, applicants will need to meet the related educational requirements:
- GS-04: associate’s degree
- GS-05: bachelor’s degree
- GS-07: bachelor’s degree with honors, OR one year of graduate education
- GS-09: master’s degree
- GS-11: PhD
- GS-12: research position with completed PhD and one specialized year of experience
Human Resource Careers with the State and Local Governments
At the state level, the Tennessee Department of Human Resources is a large employer of human resources professionals, and it is comprised of the following divisions:
- Classification and Compensation
- Employee Relations
- Fiscal Services
- Organizational Performance
- Recruiting Management Services
- Strategic Learning Solutions
The following job listing and requirements illustrate what level of qualifications is necessary for human resource applicants at the state level:
Associate Vice Chancellor and Vice President of Human Resources for the University of Tennessee, Knoxville – applicants to positions such as these should have a bachelor’s degree in human resources, business, or a related field, and ten years of human resources experience. Applicants with master’s degrees in human resources will be given preferential status.
Human Resource Careers in Private Businesses
For illustrative purposes, jobs and job requirements are listed here to outline what types of qualifications Tennessee’s top private sector employers expect from human resource applicants (jobs taken from a vacancy survey completed in 2015 and do not constitute a job offer):
Human Resource Business Partner for Sysco in Knoxville – applicants for positions such as these should hold a bachelor’s degree in human resources, business administration, or a closely related field, plus ten years of HR experience. Preference will be given to applicants who hold master’s degrees in human resources and who have obtained HRCI, PHR, or SPHR certification.
Internal Director of Operations and HR for Reynolds & Reynolds in Nashville – applicants for positions such as these should hold a bachelor’s degree in human resources, business administration, or a related field, plus have eight to ten years of experience (or equivalent combination of education and experience).
Human Resources Consultant for SESCO Management Consultants in Bristol – applicants for positions such as this should hold a bachelor’s degree in human resources, business, or another related field, and preference will be given to applicants who hold an MBA or SPHR certification.
Finding the Right Degree for a Career in Human Resources
Tennessee’s top employers are looking for highly qualified human resource professionals with degrees in human resources, business administration, or a combination of the two.
Although preference is given to applicants with master’s degrees, many human resource professionals begin their careers by obtaining a bachelor’s degree.
Both bachelor’s and master’s degrees offer online, on-campus, and blended options, fitting well to the time schedule of working human resource professionals.
Choosing the Right Bachelor’s Degree in Human Resources
Students in human resources are faced with deciding from among a wide variety of degree options, including, but not limited to, bachelor’s degrees in:
- Human Resource Management
- Human Resources
- Business and Human Resource Management
- Labor Studies and Employee Relations
- Business Administration in Human Resources
Among these decisions, students must choose whether to get a bachelor of arts or of science, whether to focus on human resources or business, and whether to become a generalist or a specialist.
Bachelor of Arts vs. Bachelor of Science
In the field of human resources, bachelor of arts degrees are more likely to focus on theoretical concepts, while bachelor of science degrees will focus on more concrete, research concepts.
For example, a bachelor of science in human relations is likely to include courses such as:
- Employment Law
- Research Methods
- Work Experience or Internship
On the other hand, a bachelor of arts in human relations will to include courses such as:
- Introduction to Labor Studies
- Work and Society
- Perspectives in Labor Studies
Human Resources vs. Business & HR
Bachelor’s degrees in human resources will focus on purely HR concepts, including courses such as:
- Workforce Development
- Employee Development
- Employee Benefits and Rewards
On the other hand, bachelor’s degrees in business or business administration and human resources will include both business and human resource courses, such as:
- Business Management
- Business Communications
- Accounting, Finance, and Economics
- Marketing Strategies
- Quantitative Analysis for Businesses
- Fundamentals of HR Management
- Change Leadership
- Human Capital Risk Management
Generalist vs. Specialist
Human resource generalists will obtain a wide-ranging degree such as that in HR or business, and they will be prepared to manage all HR duties in a small business. They will be prepared to apply for jobs with titles such as:
- Human resources generalist
- Human resources coordinator
- Human resources manager
Large businesses, however, generally have more specified roles, and human resource professionals who have a specialized degree, such as one in payroll, recruitment, or finance, will be prepared to apply for jobs with titles such as:
- Recruitment coordinator
- Payroll and compensation coordinator
- Labor relations specialist
Advancing to a Master’s Degree in Human Resources
Human resource professionals who advance to completing a graduate degree will be able to offer more insight, depth of knowledge, and expertise to their company.
Applicants to master’s programs in human resources generally either hold a bachelor’s degree in the field with superior academic achievement, or they are human resource professionals working in the field as generalists, specialists, analysts, recruiters, or managers.
When considering master’s degrees, students get to choose from a wide variety of degrees, such as:
- MA in Human Resources
- MA in Human Resource Management
- Master’s of Management (MAM) in Human Resources
- Master’s of Business Administration (MBA) in Human Resources
A master’s in human resources will cover strictly human resource concepts, such as:
- HR Development
- Strategic and Global Human Resources
- Organizational Change
- Human Resource Planning
- Compensation and Benefits
- Organizational Training
- Project Management for Human Resource Professionals
On the other hand, business degrees, such as an MBA in human resources, will cover a blend of business and HR concepts, such as:
- Financial Management
- Strategic Management
- Operations Management
- Multinational Corporate Environment
- Strategic HR Management
- Leading Organizational Change
- Rewards and Benefits
- Business Law
- Organizational Human Behavior
Obtaining a master’s degree prepares human resource professionals to become leaders in their field, ready to take on the challenges of supervisor, director, analyst, and partner roles.
Some of Tennessee’s top employers look to certification as a measure of employee distinction and dedication. Human resource professionals may obtain certification from the HR Certification Institute (HRCI) or the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM).
HR Certification Institute
This institute offers a wide variety of certifications, specific to various specializations, including:
- Professional in Human Resources (PHR)
- Senior Professional in Human Resources (SPHR)
- Global Professional in Human Resources (GPHR)
- Human Resource Management Professional (HRMP)
- Human Resource Business Professional (HRBP)
Society for Human Resource Management
This society offers more general certifications for human resource professionals, including:
Tennessee’s Human Resources Associations and Staffing Firms
As a resource, human resources associations, major departments, and staffing firms are listed here.
Professional HR Associations in Tennessee
- Middle Tennessee Society for Human Resources
- Tennessee Valley Human Resources Association
- Tennessee SHRM State Council
- West Tennessee Society for Human Resource Management
Major HR Employers and Departments
Tennessee Staffing Firms
- Wood Personnel Services – Nashville
- Frontline Source Group – Nashville
- Aerotek – Memphis
- Express Employment – Jackson