Colorado businesses recognize the importance of attracting qualified HR professionals, and that is one of the reasons why they offer some of the highest average salaries in the nation for human resources managers, according to 2014 figures from the US Department of Labor. In fact, on average, Colorado’s HR managers and specialists enjoy the fourth highest earnings for their occupational class nationwide.
The Colorado Department of Labor estimates the following HR career classifications will see significant job growth statewide between 2012 and 2022:
- Human Resources Managers – 34 percent growth through 2022
- Training and Development Specialists – 26 percent growth through 2022
- Training and Development Managers – 25 percent growth through 2022
- Administrative Services Managers – 21 percent growth through 2022
- Human Resources Specialists – 20 percent growth through 2022
- Compensation and Benefits Managers – 20 percent growth through 2022
- Compensation, Benefits, and Job Analysis Specialists – 19 percent growth through 2022
Colorado’s falling unemployment rate – currently 4.2 and one of the lowest in the nation – is also good news for human resources professionals, who experience a greater demand as the state’s workforce grows. HR professionals keep the state’s largest employers on track and functioning as efficiently as possible by vetting, hiring, training, and supporting a vibrant workforce. This includes the following top-five Colorado employers as determined by a recent 2015 Newsmax report:
- Denver International Airport – employs approximately 35,000
- University of Colorado-Boulder – employs approximately 13,300
- Lockheed Martin Space Systems – employs approximately 10,000
- Peterson Air Force Base – employs approximately 9,286
- Roof Top Restoration – employs approximately 6,000
Exploring Careers in Human Resources with Some of Colorado’s Industry Leading Companies
Based on the top employers in the state and the following numbers from the US Department of Commerce, HR careers in Colorado can be divided into three basic categories:
- Private-sector employers (non-farm) – employ approximately 3.3 million Coloradans
- State and local government – employ approximately 358,177 Coloradans
- Federal government, military and civilian – employs approximately 107,605 Coloradans
The following are examples of some of the job descriptions in these different sectors of Colorado’s economy:
Private Sector HR Job Descriptions
- Labor Relations Representative with Lockheed Martin in Littleton – this professional is responsible for performing a variety of labor relations duties such as grievance investigations, contract negotiations, and arbitration settlement negotiations. Incumbents work with management advising about labor relations policies and collective bargaining agreements.
- Associate Recruiter with Frontier Airlines in Denver – this professional provides administrative support to corporate recruiters. Job duties include assisting lower level recruiters with Frontier’s Applicant Tracking System (ATS), administering the airline’s Staffing Database, and disseminating applicant resumes to corporate recruiters.
State and Local Government HR Careers
- HR and Faculty Affairs Manager with the University of Colorado Boulder in Aurora – this professional is responsible for overseeing the operations of the Academic Affairs Office on the Anschutz Medical Campus, which is comprised of over 300 staff members. The incumbent will be responsible for tasks such as recruitment, education, training, and staff development.
- Labor/Employment Specialist I with the State of Colorado – this professional may work in one or a combination of areas in this field, including unemployment insurance, employment services, and support services. Incumbents will start working under the supervision of a superior with opportunities for advancement and more independence.
Federal HR Careers
- Human Resources Specialist (GS-09) with the Air National Guard in Centennial – this professional will be responsible for creating and maintaining the job classifications for positions with both the Army National Guard and Air National Guard. Incumbents will accomplish these duties using an automated personnel system.
- Human Resources Assistant (GS-07) with the Department of Homeland Security in Denver – this professional will assist HR specialists with clerical duties and technical support. Incumbents will work in areas that pertain to staffing actions and job classification, including pay, processing, research, and employment law.
The Right Degree for Colorado’s Human Resources Professionals
There are several important qualifications prospective HR professionals can earn that will prepare them to have successful, lifelong careers. One of the most important qualifications is a college degree in Human Resources, with another important qualification being professional HR certification.
Bachelors Degree in Human Resources
Colorado residents can choose from a number of colleges and universities that offer traditional and online bachelors degree programs in Human Resources. Courses will typically begin with important undergraduate requirements and progress to more specialized upper-division classes, such as:
- Micro and macro economics
- Speech and communication
- Report writing
- Business mathematics
- Principles of human resources
- Leadership principles
- Legal and ethical issues in business
- Employment law, policy, and compensation
- Training and staff development
- Organizational development
- Management and team leadership dynamics
Candidates can fulfill the education requirements for the following careers with a bachelors degree in Human Resources:
- Labor Relations Representative with Lockheed Martin in Littleton
- Associate Recruiter with Frontier Airlines in Denver – candidates are preferred to have a bachelors degree in Human Resources, Business, Marketing, Advertising, Management, or Psychology.
- HR and Faculty Affairs Manager with the University of Colorado Boulder in Aurora – this position requires at least a bachelors degree in a field related to Human Resources Management, Social Science, or Business Administration.
- Labor/Employment Specialist I with the State of Colorado – candidates must have a bachelors degree and six months of professional experience in a related field. Equivalent work experience may substitute for the bachelors degree.
- HR Service Representative with the Denver Public Schools – candidates are preferred to have a bachelors degree in a field related to Human Resources.
Masters Degree in Human Resources – MBA in Human Resource Management
Just as a bachelors degree is often a requirement for entry-level HR positions, a masters degree can be one of the basic requirements for more advanced HR positions. An MBA in Human Resource Management or a general masters degree in HR will provide professionals with the important depth of knowledge that is often needed to qualify for promotional opportunities. As with undergraduate programs, there are a number of colleges and universities throughout Colorado that offer both traditional and online masters-level programs for eligible in-state residents.
Each masters program and school will have its own admission requirements, which can often include:
- Any bachelors degree, which may require completion of essential undergrad prereqs like economics, speech, and business writing with a minimum GPA
- A bachelors degree in Human Resources, Business, or a related field
- GRE or GMAT minimum test scores
- Letters of recommendation or personal essays
- Minimum cumulative GPA requirement
Once admitted, students can expect to begin an advanced course of study that will cover topics like:
- Theory and practice of effective organizations
- Advanced HR management
- Business management – legal and HR dimensions
- Effective labor management and support
- Management for performance results
- Leadership, diversity, and HR
- Business success and growth through effective HR management
Candidates can fulfill the education requirements for the following careers with a masters degree in a field related to Human Resources:
- Labor/Employment Specialist I with the State of Colorado – candidates can meet the education and experience requirements for this position by having a masters degree in a related HR field.
- Human Resources Assistant (GS-07) with the Department of Homeland Security in Denver – candidates can fulfill the education requirements for this position by having one year of masters-level college credit.
- Human Resources Specialist (GS-09) with the Air National Guard in Centennial – to qualify for this position candidates must either have a masters degree or two years of graduate-level education.
- Human Resources Manager with Broadridge in Denver – candidates are preferred to have a masters degree in Human Resources or Business Administration.
- Human Resources Business Partner with Dish Network in Englewood – candidates for this position are preferred to have a masters degree.
Professional HR Certification
Several national companies offer professional HR credentials. These may be specified as preferred or required qualifications by Colorado employers. Examples of some certification options for Colorado residents include:
- Human Resource Certification Institute (HRCI), sponsoring the Professional in Human Resources (PHR) certification. Candidates can become eligible 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
- Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), sponsoring the Certified Professional (SHRM-CP) credential. Candidates can become eligible through one of these routes:
- 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
- Institute for Human Resources (IHR), sponsoring the Professional in Human Resources (PHR) certification. Candidates can become eligible once they complete a prep course and pass an exam.
Examples of careers in Colorado that prefer or require a professional HR certification include:
- HR and Faculty Affairs Manager with the University of Colorado Boulder in Aurora – candidates for this position are preferred to have a certification issued by the by the IHR.
- HR and Payroll Services Professional with the University of Colorado Denver – candidates for this position are preferred to have an HR certification, such as the PHR.
- Human Development Generalist with Qualfon in Fot Collins – candidates for this position are preferred to have a professional HR certification issued by the IHR.
- Market HR Manager with Walmart in Loveland – candidates are preferred to have a professional certification issued by the IHR.
Resources for Prospective HR Professionals in Colorado
There are many resources for HR career seekers in Colorado, ranging from professional organizations to the state’s largest HR departments and staffing agencies:
Professional HR Organizations
- Mile High Society for Human Resource Management
- Colorado Society for Human Resource Management
- Western Colorado Human Resource Association
- Northern Colorado Human Resources Association
- Colorado Healthcare Association for Human Resource Management
- Colorado Springs Human Resources Association
Important HR Departments
- Lockheed Martin careers
- Denver International Airport careers
- Frontier Airlines careers
- University of Colorado Boulder Human Resources
- State of Colorado Department of Personnel and Administration
- Colorado Department of Labor and Employment
- Colorado Workforce Development Council
HR Staffing Agencies
- The Employment Firm
- Elwood Staffing
- Robert Half Company
- Lucas Group
- Strategic HR Solutions
- Employment Solutions