Colorado businesses recognize the importance of attracting qualified HR professionals, which is one of the reasons they offer some of the highest average salaries in the nation for human resources managers. According to 2018 figures from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), HR managers earned a median salary of $129,880 in Colorado in May 2018 – that’s nearly $16,000 more than the national median salary for these professionals.
Job projections through the Colorado Department of Labor and salary statistics through the BLS reveal plenty of opportunities in the human resources field in the Centennial State:
Human Resources Management
- Human Resources Managers – Human resources manager jobs in Colorado are projected to increase 23.5 percent between 2016 and 2026 – that’s nearly triple the national projected increase of 9 percent for these professionals.
- Compensation and Benefits Managers – Jobs for compensation and benefits managers in Colorado are projected to increase by 15.8 percent between 2016 and 2016 – that’s about triple the national projected job growth rate of 5.1 percent.
- Training and Development Managers – Training and development managers in Colorado earned a median salary of $113,540 in May 2018, which is slightly higher than the national median of $111,340 for these professionals.
Human Resources Specialists and Assistants
- Human Resources Specialists – Jobs among Colorado’s human resources specialists are projected to increase by 17.6 percent between 2016 and 2026 – that’s more than double the national projected job growth rate of 7.1 percent.
- Labor Relations Specialists – Labor relations specialists in Colorado earned a median salary of $77,030 in May 2018, which is about $14,000 higher than the national median salary during this time.
- Training and Development Specialists – A projected job growth rate of 20.8 percent for Colorado’s training and development specialists between 2016 and 2026 is much higher than the national projected job growth rate of 11.5 percent during this time.
- Compensation, Benefits, and Job Analysis Specialists – Compensation, job benefits, and job analysis specialists earned a median salary of $68,650 in May 2018, which is about $5,000 more than the national median salary for these professionals.
- Human Resources Assistants – Human resources assistants in Colorado earned a median salary of $43,330, which is higher than the national median salary of $40,390 for these professionals.
Colorado’s falling unemployment rate – just 2.8 percent in August 2019 and one of the lowest in the nation – is also good news for human resources professionals who inevitably 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.
As of August 2019, the BLS identified Colorado’s largest employers as:
- Denver International Airport – 35,000 employees
- University of Colorado – Boulder – 13,300 employees
- Lockheed Martin Space Systems – 10,000 employees
- Colorado State University – 7,000 employees
- University of Colorado – 7,000 employees
- Colorado State University – 6,500 employees
- Western Union Company – 6,000 employees
Exploring Careers in Human Resources with Some of Colorado’s Industry Leading Companies
HR careers in Colorado can be divided into three, basic categories:
- Private-sector employers (non-farm) – about 3.3 million employees
- State and local government – about 358,177 employees
- Federal government, military and civilian – about 107,605 employees
The following are examples of some of the job descriptions in these different sectors of Colorado’s economy (Shown for illustrative purposes only):
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.
Bachelor’s Degree in Human Resources
Colorado residents can choose from a number of colleges and universities that offer traditional and online bachelor’s 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 macroeconomics
- 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 bachelor’s degree in human resources (Shown for illustrative purposes only):
- Associate Recruiter with Frontier Airlines in Denver – Candidates are preferred to have a bachelor’s 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 bachelor’s 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 bachelor’s degree and six months of professional experience in a related field. Equivalent work experience may substitute for the bachelor’s degree.
- HR Service Representative with the Denver Public Schools – Candidates are preferred to have a bachelor’s degree in a field related to human resources.
Master’s Degree in Human Resources – MBA in Human Resource Management
Just as a bachelor’s degree is often a requirement for entry-level HR positions, a master’s degree can be one of the basic requirements for more advanced HR positions. An MBA in Human Resource Management or a general master’s 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 master’s program and school will have its own admission requirements, which can often include:
- Any bachelor’s degree, which may require completion of essential undergrad prerequisites like economics, speech, and business writing with a minimum GPA
- A bachelor’s 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 master’s degree in a field related to human resources (Shown for illustrative purposes only):
- Labor/Employment Specialist I with the State of Colorado – Candidates can meet the education and experience requirements for this position by having a master’s 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 master’s degree or two years of graduate-level education.
- Human Resources Manager with Broadridge in Denver – Candidates are preferred to have a master’s 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 master’s 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:
- 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)
Examples of careers in Colorado that prefer or require a professional HR certification include (Shown for illustrative purposes only):
- 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 in Fort 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
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_co.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 Colorado 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 September 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.