Alabama’s human resources professionals help recruit and vet the right talent for the right jobs, whether to fill positions in the most essential government agencies or for the most influential private companies. Since Alabama enjoys one of the lowest unemployment rates in the region, HR specialists and managers in the state might find themselves working with a smaller candidate pool than what is found in neighboring states. Although this can make it more of a challenge to find qualified workers to fill vacancies, it is a challenge that HR professionals readily welcome.
The following job projections from the Alabama Department of Labor and salary stats from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reveal a number of highlights for HR management, specialist, and assistant positions in Alabama:
Human Resources Management
- Human Resources Managers – The number of jobs for human resources managers in Alabama is projected to rise 10.6 percent between 2016 and 2026 – that’s faster than the national job growth rate of 9 percent for these professionals.
- Compensation and Benefits Managers – Compensation and benefits managers in Alabama earned an annual median salary of $100,790 in May 2018.
- Training and Development Managers – The number of training and development managers in Alabama is projected to increase by 15.2 between 2016 and 2026, which is higher than the national job growth rate of 10.4% for this profession.
Human Resources Specialists and Assistants
- Training and Development Specialists – Jobs for training and development specialists in Alabama are projected to increase by 15.2 percent between 2016 and 2026 – much faster than the national job growth rate of 11.5 percent for this profession.
- Human Resources Specialists – There were 5,350 human resources specialists in Alabama in May 2018. That’s significantly more than any other HR profession in the state, including training and development specialists, which came in a distant second with 2,330 jobs.
- Labor Relations Specialists – The top 10% of labor relations specialists in Alabama earn an average salary of $89,350.
- Compensation, Benefits, and Job Analysis Specialists – The state’s compensation, benefits and job analysis specialists earned a median salary of $58,270 in May 2018.
- Human Resources Assistants – In May 2018, there were 1,120 human resources assistants working in Alabama.
Strong job growth figures for Alabama’s human resources professionals can be used as a benchmark for the state’s overall job growth rate – the more onboarding taking place around the state, the more demand there is for HR professionals. In 2018, the state had experienced an all-time high year over year growth rate, with 44,300 new jobs added, according to the Alabama Department of Labor. BLS figures reveal that in August 2019, Alabama’s unemployment rate dropped to just 3.1 percent.
Representing the top employers of skilled workers in the state, the HR professionals within these organizations contribute greatly to strengthening Alabama’s workforce:
- U.S. government facility Redstone Arsenal – Employs approximately 60,000
- University of Alabama at Birmingham, including its hospital – Employs approximately 30,000
- Huntsville Hospital – Employs approximately 6,440
- Alabama Power Company – Employs approximately 5,000
- Honda Manufacturing of AL – Employs approximately 4,000
Exploring Careers in Human Resources
Every company or government agency will have its own unique requirements and demands for its human resources professionals. Broadly speaking, HR careers in Alabama can be broken down into three main categories:
Human Resources Jobs with the Federal Government
Federal jobs in human resources, for everything from the Department of Defense to the Department of Commerce, are listed on the website USAJOBS. The federal government classifies its positions according to its General Schedule (GS), a 15-level scale that indicates the minimum amount of education and experience required for all federal positions. Take the following examples:
- Human resources assistant (National Guard) with the Department of the Army – GS-06
- Human resources specialist (employee benefits) with the Department of the Army – GS-07
- Human resources specialist (recruitment and placement/compensation) with the Department of the Army – GS-09
The corresponding GS level indicates the following specific qualification requirements:
- GS-06 – Requires a four-year bachelor’s degree and at least nine months of experience or education that involves general office work
- GS-07 – Requires at least one year of master’s-level education or a bachelor’s degree with superior academic achievement, plus at least one year of specialized experience in human resources
- GS-09 – Requires at least a master’s degree and two years of specialized work experience in human resources
Human Resources Jobs with State and Local Governments
State and local governments, as well as affiliated institutions like state university systems, each have their own human resources requirements:
Human Resources County Director I with the State of Alabama – The state operates many county-level programs throughout Alabama, with this particular example being for the administration and direction of a county-level public welfare program. The minimum educational requirement for this position is a master’s degree in Social Work.
Human Resources Personnel with Mobile County Public Schools – This and all classified administrative positions with this agency require applicants with a minimum of a bachelor’s degree.
Human Resources Officer with Mobile County – Candidates for this position are expected to have a master’s degree in a relevant field, and must have a bachelor’s degree in public administration, human resources administration, or business administration.
Personnel Generalist with the HR Department of the University of Alabama at Birmingham – This professional will be the HR contact for a subdivision or large department of the UAB, and duties include selecting applicants during the employment process, as well as managing more than two full-time employees. Applicants must have a bachelor’s degree in human resources, business, or a related field.
Private Sector Human Resources Positions
The private sector probably has the greatest diversity of qualifications for human resources professionals, who may also be known by titles like talent acquisition professional:
Human Resources Generalist with Regions Financial Corporation – This professional will provide HR support for an area or division within Regions. Duties would include those related to recruitment, manager consultations, training, report writing, and internal investigations. Minimum education requirements include having at least a bachelor’s degree, and applicants with a PHR Certification are preferred.
Senior Benefits Analyst with AT&T – This professional works with pension benefits providers to manage retirement packages for AT&T employees. Applicants will need to be competent in duties that include project administration, HR policies and procedures, and teamwork.
HR Staffing Firms – Companies like Long’s Human Resource Services in Mobile and Lyons HR in multiple cities throughout the state contract with Alabama companies to provide human resources services that include screening, hiring, employee management, and talent recruiting.
Qualifying for a Career in Human Resources
Most human resources employers in Alabama require or prefer a bachelor’s or master’s degree in human resources or a closely related major. Programs of this sort are typically available online to accommodate the schedules of busy professionals:
Bachelor’s Degree in Human Resources
This four-year degree program will develop a solid foundation in the field of human resources for any professional who wants to be competitive from the get go. As part of the curriculum, students will study topics like:
- Organizational communications
- Compensation and benefits
- Intercultural management
- Employment law
- Collective bargaining
- International human resources management
- Business policy and strategy
A bachelor’s degree in Human Resources will qualify candidates for jobs such as the ones shown in these examples:
- Human Resources Assistant with federal government agencies like the Department of the Army
- Human Resources Personnel with Mobile County Public Schools
- Personnel Generalist with the HR Department of the University of Alabama at Birmingham
- Human Resources Officer with Mobile County
- Human Resources Generalist with Regions Financial Corporation
- Corporate Human Resources Manager with Hospice Partners of American in Birmingham
Master’s Degrees and Graduate Certificates in Human Resources
Having a master’s degree or graduate certificate in human resources should be considered for professionals who want to make a powerful impact in their field and advance to the highest echelons that their talent will allow.
Prospective students will first need to qualify for an HR master’s program, which will involve meeting entry qualifications. Each graduate program has its own set of entry requirements, with some common standards including:
- Minimum scores on the GRE or GMAT exams
- Completion of a bachelor’s degree
- Minimum cumulative GPA
- Minimum GPA for courses related to human resources management
- Letters of recommendation
- Essay or statement of purpose on a candidate’s goals in the field of human resources
While graduate programs will often admit students with a bachelor’s degree in any field, they may also require certain prerequisite courses in management and human resources. These ensure that graduate students have a common foundational education in the field.
Graduate programs are usually offered in one- or two-year packages and cover the study of topics like:
- Legal, ethical, and political dimensions of business
- Strategic staffing
- Management application of information technology
- Advanced international human resources
- Human resources for mergers, acquisitions, and other organizations changes
- Business economics and managerial finances
A master’s degree in human resources is either preferred or required for jobs such as the ones shown in these examples:
- Human Resources Specialist with federal government agencies like the Department of the Army
- Director of Human Resources with Lhoist North America in Calera
- Associate Director, MCI Operations and Finance with the Mitchell Cancer Institute
- Senior Human Resource Leader with Bush Hog in Selma
- Recruiter Specialist 3 with PDS Tech in Huntsville
In some instances, employers look for HR job candidates that hold professional certification in human resources. There are several significant national certification organizations in the field of human resources, each with their own eligibility requirements for a variety of different certifications:
- SHRM-CP (certified professional)
- SHRM-SCP (senior certified professional)
HR Certification Institute (HRCI)
- Associate Professional in Human Resources (aPHR)
- Associate Professional in Human Resources – International (aPHRi)
- Professional in Human Resources (PHR)
- Professional in Human Resources – International (PHRi)
- Senior Professional in Human Resources (SPHR)
- Senior Professional in Human Resources – International (SPHRi)
- Global Professional in Human Resources (GPHR)
- Certified Professional (IPMA-CP)
- Senior Certified Professional (IPMA-SCP)
Local HR Resources and Employers
Prospective HR professionals can find resources throughout Alabama that relate to employment and professional development. Useful links include:
- Alabama Society for Human Resources Management
- Society for Human Resources Managements – Birmingham
- Alabama Chapter of the College and University Professional Association for Human Resources
Major HR Departments in Alabama
- Federal employment website USAJOBS
- State of Alabama Personnel Department
- Alabama Department of Labor, Workforce Development
- University of Alabama HR Departments
- Mobile County Public Schools Division of Human Resources
- Regions Bank Careers
- AT&T Human Resources Committee of the Board of Directors
Alabama HR Staffing Firms
Salary and employment data compiled by the United States Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics in May of 2018 for human resources managers, specialists, and assistants – https://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes_al.htm#11-9111. The BLS salary data shown here represents median – 90th percentile salary ranges for the state and its MSAs (Metropolitan Statistical Areas) and includes workers at all levels of education and experience. This data does not represent starting salaries.
Job growth projections sourced from the Alabama Department of Labor and published in the U.S. Department of Labor-funded Long Term Occupational Projections (2016-2026) database – https://projectionscentral.com/Projections/LongTerm. Employment conditions in your area may vary.
All salary and job growth data accessed in October 2019.
Examples of HR positions were taken from a survey of job listings in the state at the time of this writing and are shown for illustrative purposes only. These examples do not represent job offers or positions that are currently available.