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

HR professionals carry the heavy responsibility of recruiting, vetting, training, and maintaining the nation’s largest workforce.

A 2018 LA Times article revealed that California is now the world’s fifth largest economy, surpassing the UK and ringing in an annual GDP of $2.7 trillion.

California’s unemployment rate of just 4.1 as of August 2019 both bolsters and stands as an example of the strength of the state’s economy. In fact, according to a March 2019 CNBC article, California alone was responsible for nearly three-quarters of all jobs added to the U.S. economy in February 2019.

We all know that California is an economic powerhouse, so it doesn’t come as any surprise that the Golden State is also a national leader for its total number of human resources professionals in all classifications.

Job projections from the California Employment Development Department and salary stats from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) make it clear that HR management and specialist jobs in California are increasingly abundant and lucrative, and the field isn’t showing any sign of slowing down:

Human Resources Management

  • Human Resources ManagersCalifornia has the highest employment level in the nation for human resources managers, with 27,980 working in the state as of 2018. The number of jobs for these professionals is projected to increase 13.2 percent between 2016 and 2026 – that’s much faster than the national projected job growth rate of 9 percent.
  • Compensation and Benefits Managers California compensation and benefits managers earned a median salary of $139,770 in May 2018, which is about $20,000 more than the national median.
  • Training and Development Managers California’s training and development managers enjoy the highest employment level in the nation, with 4,330 working in the state.
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Pepperdine
Online master's in HR. Aligns with SHRM requirements - No GRE/GMAT required
Rasmussen College
Online Human Resources and Organizational Leadership Associate's/Bachelor's
Capella University
100% online DBA, PhD, MS, and BS degrees in Human Resources Management
Southern New Hampshire University
MS and BS in Human Resource Management
Benedictine University
Online Bachelor of Arts in Management in Human Resources Management
University of Scranton's
Online Master of Science in Human Resources Program
Saint Joseph's University
MS in Strategic Human Resource Management Program

Human Resources Specialists and Assistants

  • Human Resources SpecialistsCalifornia has the highest employment level in the country for human resources specialists, with 60,260 working in the state as of 2018. The median salary for these professionals was $68,500 in May 2018, which is about $8,000 higher than the national median.
  • Labor Relations Specialists Labor relations specialists in California earned a median salary of $75,790 in May 2018, which is about $12,000 above the national median for this profession.
  • Training and Development Specialists California has the highest employment level nationwide for training and development specialists, with 27,980 here as of 2018. Jobs for these HR specialists are projected to increase by 17.2 percent between 2016 and 2026, much faster than the national projected increase of 11.5 percent.
  • Compensation, Benefits, and Job Analysis Specialists California has the highest employment level in the nation for compensation, benefits, and job analysis specialists, with10,220 working here as of 2018. The median annual salary for these professionals was $71,140 in May 2018, which is about $8,000 higher than the national median for the profession.
  • Human Resources Assistants California’s human resources assistants enjoy the highest employment level in the nation, at 13,910 jobs.

Human Resources Careers in California’s Major Employment Sectors

California’s human resource employers can be divided into three main categories, and the size of the workforce in each helps tell the story of how HR professionals have their work cut out for them:

  • 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

California’s largest employers operating within the state’s key sectors also have the largest and most extensive human resources departments (2019, BLS):

  • Los Angeles International Airport – 45,000 employees
  • 21nd Street Naval Station – 42,951 employees
  • UCLA Health System – 35,543 employees
  • University of Southern California – 30,000 employees
  • Walt Disney Parks & Resorts – 28,000 employees
  • University of CA Los Angeles – 27,489 employees
  • Disneyland Resort – 26,000 employees
  • Nestle USA – 20,000 employees
  • CA Department of Transportation – 20,000 employees

Private-Sector

Training, recruitment, and personnel management are some of the most common duties of HR professionals with private-sector employers. Job descriptions for positions with top industry employers can be seen here:

  • 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. They 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. They coordinate 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. They will develop HR and staffing strategies to accomplish this goal in a dynamic working environment.

State and Local Government

State and local government agencies, ranging from municipal agencies to state health departments and university systems, maintain HR departments, and in California some of the human resources jobs they support include:

  • 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. They 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 program 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. They 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 U.S. 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:

  • 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. They 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 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 usually begins with general, introductory courses that progress to specialized, upper-division HR courses, such as:

  • Report writing and composition
  • Behavioral psychology
  • Macro and microeconomics
  • 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:

  • 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
  • Bachelor’s 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:

  • 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 completed at least one year of graduate-level studies in a field 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 completed 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 organizations that offer HR certifications, with some of the more prominent including:

Society of Human Resource Management (SHRM)

  • 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)

International Public Management Association for Human Resources (IPMA-HR)

  • Certified Professional (IPMA-CP)
  • Senior Certified Professional (IPMA-SCP)

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

 

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_ca.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 California Employment Development Department 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.

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