From the petroleum and seafood industries to government services, human resource professionals keep Alaska strong by matching the most qualified employees with the state’s economic engines. Through their expertise, HR professionals have indirectly contributed to bringing Alaska’s unemployment rate down to a seasonally adjusted rate of 6.5 percent as of 2015, the lowest it has been since before the recession of 2009.
The US Department of Labor and the Department of Labor and Workforce Development both rank Alaska highly for a number of key HR occupational classifications nationally:
- Labor Relations Specialists – Alaska offers the highest average salary for these professionals in the nation; projected statewide growth rate of 19 percent through 2022 compared with a national growth rate that actually declines by one percent
- Human Resource Specialists – Rural Southeast Alaska has the highest concentration of these professionals of all non-metro areas in the nation; projected statewide growth rate of 14 percent through 2022 compared with a national growth rate of eight percent
- Compensation, Benefits, and Job Analysis Specialists – Rural Southeast Alaska has the second-highest concentration of these professionals of all non-metro areas in the nation; projected statewide growth rate of nine percent through 2022 compared with a national growth rate of six percent
According to a two-year survey of jobs published by the University of Alaska-Anchorage, the state is home to approximately 135,000 federal jobs and 110,000 petroleum industry jobs. As employment increases overall, this creates a greater demand for the HR professionals with Alaska’s major public and private-sector employers that recruit, train and manage a growing number of employees.
Alaska’s Department of Labor and Workforce Development listed the state’s top employers in 2011. By extension, these companies are also largely responsible for driving job creation for human resources professionals in the state:
- Providence Health and Services – over 4,000 employees
- ASRC (Arctic Slope Regional Corporation) Energy Services – over 2,500 employees
- Trident Seafoods – over 2,250 employees
- BP Exploration Alaska – over 2,000 employees
- CH2M Hill – over 1,750 employees
- Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium – over 1,500 employees
- Alaska Airlines – over 1,500 employees
- GCI Communications – over 1,250 employees
Job Descriptions for Human Resource Professional in Alaska’s Major Employment Industries
HR careers in Alaska can generally be placed in two basic categories: government and the private sector. A review of job descriptions provides a better understanding of the nature of HR job functions with major employers from each sector (from a survey of job vacancies taken in May 2015 and shown for illustrative purposes only):
Human resource professionals in the private sector must be adaptable and possess a range of skills and education to compete for positions in a diversified field. Examples of HR job descriptions in Alaska’s private sector include:
- Human Resources Director with Providence Health and Services in Anchorage – This senior-level position involves managing all the complex issues of HR within the Providence system. The position would involve serving as a trusted adviser for employees as well as managers while solving complex problems with traditional and creative solutions.
- HR Business Partner with ASRC Energy Services in Anchorage – This experienced professional will have a broad understanding of all areas within the HR field. The incumbent will oversee recruiting, conduct an analysis of problems, devise and implement solutions, as well as serve as the point of contact between management and employees.
- HR Coordinator with Trident Seafoods – This professional works with job applicants, employees, and HR managers. Candidates need to be approachable, have a commitment to excellence, and have strong communication skills. Incumbents will also greet and provide instructions to on-site visitors as well as manage employee wellness.
Local, State and Federal Government
Federal, state, and local governments provide essential services to the residents of Alaska. Just like any organization, these agencies also need skilled and educated HR professionals to ensure the right applicants are hired for the right positions.
State and Local Government HR Jobs
- Human Resources Professional with the Municipality of Anchorage – This HR professional will carry a variety of duties that include recruitment, candidate selection, employee benefits, employee training, developing job classification and compensation schedules, as well as working with employee and management relations.
- Human Resource Consultant with the State of Alaska – This professional will work in a wide variety of subjects that range from employment law and worker safety/health compliance to recruitment, selection, and job classification. The incumbent will also serve as the bridge between personnel and management.
Federal HR Jobs
With 135,000 federal jobs in Alaska, federal HR professionals are essential for ensuring the state’s single largest employer functions efficiently and effectively.
Examples of some federal HR job descriptions in Alaska include:
- Human Resources Assistant GS-06/07 with the Bureau of Land Management in Anchorage – These professionals are involved in payroll and personnel processing. Incumbents serve as the bridge between HR managers and employees, and additionally address employee concerns.
- Workforce Management Specialist GS-11 with the Department of the Army in Fort Wainwright – This advanced professional must be able to obtain at least a Secret security clearance. Incumbents will conduct workforce management activities and provide administrative support. This includes processing awards, reports, and forms, as well as performing appraisal reviews.
Meeting the Education Requirements for a Career in Human Resources
Many positions in management and specialist roles require candidates to have at least a bachelor’s degree in human resources or a related field. Promotions and specialized positions can be contingent on more advanced credentials such as a master’s degree in HR or an MBA in Human Resource Management.
Bachelor’s Degree in Human Resources
These four-year degree programs are available at several colleges and universities in Alaska:
- 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
Residents can also find online options for their education that allow for more flexible scheduling. A bachelor’s degree in Human Resources Management or a related field such as Management Finance or Administrative Assisting will start with introductory lower-division courses and progress to upper-division topics that will be covered in-depth:
- Principles of financial accounting
- Database concepts and applications
- Principles of management
- Project and operations management
- Organizational behavior
- Strategic human resources management
- Labor and management relations
A bachelor’s degree in Human Resources will qualify candidates for positions such as these (from a survey of job vacancies taken in May 2015 and shown for illustrative purposes only):
- Human Resources Director with Providence Health and Services in Anchorage
- HR Business Partner with ASRC Energy Services in Anchorage – Candidates for this position must have at least a bachelor’s degree in Human Resources Management, Business Administration, or Organizational Development. An equivalent combination of education, training, and experience may be substituted in some cases.
- HR Coordinator with Trident Seafoods – Candidates for this position need to have at least a bachelor’s degree in HR, the Social Sciences, or Business Administration. An equivalent combination of education and experience may also be considered.
- Human Resources Professional with the Municipality of Anchorage – Candidates for this position must meet the minimum requirement of having at least a bachelor’s degree in Human Resources Management or a related field.
Master’s Degree in Human Resources
Like an undergraduate degree, students who are interested in a masters in Human Resources or a related field such as an MBA in Management Organization or an MBA in Human Resource Management have several options in Alaska, including online programs. Entrance requirements will vary by educational institution, and can include:
- A minimum GPA requirement, such as a 3.0
- Minimum scores on exams like the GRE or GMAT
- Undergraduate degree in a related field such as Human Resource Management or Business Administration
Courses of study for a program like an MBA in Human Resource Management will include coverage of the following topics:
- Employment law
- Financial management
- Organizational behavior and theory
- Business legal environment
- Principles of operations management
- Advanced human resources management
- Advanced leadership
A master’s degree in Human Resources will qualify candidates for positions such as these (from a survey of job vacancies taken in May 2015 and shown for illustrative purposes only):
- Human Resources Director with Providence Health and Services in Anchorage – MBA/MS is a preferred qualification
- Human Resources Professional with the Municipality of Anchorage – This position has five levels (HR Professional I-V) which require increasing education and/or experience. Masters-level studies can substitute for required work experience on a year-for-year basis.
- Human Resource Consultant with the State of Alaska – This position has six levels (HR Consultant I-VI) which each require increasing education and/or experience.
- Workforce Management Specialist GS-11 with the Department of the Army in Fort Wainwright – Candidates will need an additional three years of progressively higher education after a masters degree to be eligible for this position.
Professional HR Certifications
Employers in Alaska will occasionally prefer or require applicants to obtain an HR certification offered by a professional human resources organization. There are a number of such organizations, including:
- Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), sponsor of the Certified Professional (SHRM-CP) credential. After passing an exam candidates can qualify for the SHRM-CP 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
- Human Resource Certification Institute (HRCI), sponsor of the Professional in Human Resources (PHR) certification. After passing an exam candidates can qualify for the PHR through one of these routes:
- Bachelors degree plus two years of professional HR experience
- Masters degree plus one year of professional HR experience
- Four years of professional HR experience
- Institute for Human Resources (IHR), sponsor of the Professional in Human Resources (PHR) certification that candidates can apply for once they complete a prep course and pass an exam.
Companies that require or prefer professional HR certification include:
- HR Business Partner with ASRC Energy Services in Anchorage – candidates are preferred to have a Professional in Human Resources (PHP) certification or equivalent
- HR Coordinator with Trident Seafoods – incumbents will need to become a member of SHRM within two months of hire
Local Resources for HR Professionals
HR professionals who are looking for additional resources in Alaska will find the following beneficial:
- Alaska Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM)
- Northwest Human Resource Management Association (NHRMA)
Important HR Departments in Alaska
- Providence Health and Services Careers
- ASRC Energy Services Careers
- Trident Seafoods Human Resources
- CH2M Hill Careers
- Alaska Airlines Careers
- Alaska Department of Personnel and Labor Relations
- City of Fairbanks Human Resources and Purchasing
- Employee Relations – Municipality of Anchorage
- Alaska Department of Labor and Workforce Development
HR Staffing Firms in Alaska