Bachelor’s and Master’s Programs for a Career in Human Resources

According to the Hawaii Department of Business, Economic Development & Tourism, the state’s economy relies largely upon the U.S. economy as a whole, as well as the economies of several international markets, particularly Japan. The relationship between the economies is a positive one for Hawaii, according to the Hawaii Department of Business, Economic Development & Tourism, which projects positive growth for Hawaii’s economy through 2020 and continued job growth through 2022.

Hawaii low unemployment rate of 2.7% as of August 2019 also continues to be big news here. In fact, Hawaii ranks fifth in the nation for its low unemployment rate.

From recruiters and training specialists to benefits managers and department heads, human resources professionals have played a key role in capitalizing on the positive economic movement happening within the state. Human resources managers, generalists, specialists, and assistants work with company employees to maximize effectiveness in the workplace. Through insight and leadership from human resources departments, companies attract and maintain Hawaii’s most talented professionals.

According to salary statistics from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) and job projections from the Hawaii State Department of Labor and Industrial Relations, Hawaii’s aspiring and practicing HR managers, specialists, and assistants have plenty of reasons to forge ahead with a career in human resources:

Human Resources Management

  • Human Resources Managers Hawaii’s human resources managers earn a median annual salary of $98,100. Those in the top 10% earn an average annual salary of $156,470.
  • Training and Development Managers Training and development managers in Hawaii earn a median salary of $98,100. The top 10% here earn an average annual salary of $161,980.

Human Resources Specialists and Assistants

  • Human Resources Specialists HR specialists in Hawaii earn a median annual salary of $63,330 – that’s about $6,000 more than the national median salary for this profession.
  • Labor Relations Specialists Labor relations specialists here earn a median salary of $77,210, beating out the national median salary for this profession by about $14,000.
  • Training and Development Specialists Hawaii’s training and development specialists earn a median salary of $59,100, which is in line with the national median salary of $60,360 for this profession.
  • Compensation, Benefits, and Job Analysis Specialists Job growth for Hawaii’s compensation. Benefits, and job analysis specialists is projected to be 15.4 percent between 2016 and 2026, which is much higher than the national projected increase of 8.4 percent for this HR profession.
  • Human Resources Assistants HR assistants in Hawaii earn a median salary of $41,760, which is slightly higher than the national median salary of $40,390 for this profession.

Earning the Right Degree for a Career in Human Resources

Obtaining a bachelor’s is an invaluable step for aspiring human resources professionals in Hawaii, whether they’re pursuing jobs in specialist or generalist roles or lower-level management. Master’s degrees and specialized MBAs are typically best suited for career advancement to higher-level management and/or consultant and executive positions.

Bachelor’s Degrees in Human Resources

A bachelor’s degree in human resources, which can be designed as a Bachelor of Science (BS), a Bachelor of Arts (BA), or a Bachelor of Business Administration (BBA), is often a minimum requirement for both specialty and management HR roles.

The following degrees are among those that HR managers and specialists often pursue:

  • Bachelor of Arts in Human Resource Management
  • Bachelor of Arts in Management with a Human Resources Specialization
  • Bachelor of Business Administration in Human Resource Management
  • Bachelor of Science in Business Administration with a Human Resources concentration
  • Bachelor of Science in Human Resources
  • Bachelor of Science in Business Project Management

Bachelor’s degrees programs in human resources prepare students for a broad range of skills in business and labor practice. Just some of the courses found in these programs include:

  • Compensation and Benefits
  • Global Business
  • Leadership and Management
  • Business Law and Ethics
  • Workforce Planning: Recruitment and Selection
  • Adult Development
  • Advanced Human Resource Management
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Master’s Degrees in Human Resources

Some of Hawaii’s top employers look for upper-level HR management candidates who hold a master’s degree related to human resources and business administration. Examples include:

  • Master of Business Administration (MBA) with a Human Resources specialization
  • Master of Business Administration (MBA) in Organizational Behavior and Human Resource Management
  • Master of Science (MS) in Human Resources
  • Master of Science (MS) in Organizational Leadership with a specialization in Human Resource Management
  • Master of Arts (MA) in Organizational Management with a concentration in Human Resources
  • Master of Science (MS) in Human Resources Management

The courses in human resources master’s programs prepare students for advanced positions in the field. Examples of these courses include:

  • HR Leadership and Ethics
  • Financial management
  • Managerial accounting
  • Negotiation/Advocacy in the Workplace
  • Employment Law
  • Managing the Global Workforce
  • Information technology
  • Business Research
  • Employee and labor relations

Professional Certification in Human Resources

Professional certification is a widely pursued credential in the human resources field. The following are examples of professional certifications available through some of the most respected organizations:

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)

Exploring Human Resources Careers in Hawaii

Human resources professionals in Hawaii are employed in the state, nonprofit, and private sectors. Typically, the state’s largest companies have the most substantial human resources departments. According to 2019 BLS stats, Hawaii’s largest employers include:

  • Altres Industrial – 10,000 employees
  • Kapiolani Medical Center – 5,000 employees
  • Queen’s Medical Center – 3,928 employees
  • Hawaii Health Systems Corp – 3,400 employees
  • Hawaii State Police Department – 3,000 employees
  • Kalia Suites by Hilton Grand – 3,000 employees
  • Tripler Army Medical Center – 2,826 employees
  • Bank of Hawaii – 2,500 employees

The daily responsibilities of human resources workers in Hawaii vary based on a number of factors. HR professionals in Hawaii’s top industries such as tourism, transportation, and retail trade, for example, will face different tasks than HR workers in state hospitals, even when listed under the same general job classification.

A look as job descriptions from recent postings offers a glimpse into daily human resources duties for a couple of different positions (Shown for illustrative purposes only):

HR Consultant, ProService – Job duties include working with client companies to prevent and resolve a number of employee issues. Through consistent communication with these companies, the consultant will assist in dealing with employee complaints, provide HR training, and conduct investigations.

Corporate Recruiter, Hawaiian Airlines – Job duties include talent acquisition, ensuring compliance with federal and state laws and government agency regulations, maintaining relationships with company managers, and overseeing employee candidate pipelines.

The following recent job postings demonstrate the value of having both a human resources degree and professional certification:

Coordinated Service Director, Hawaii State Department of Education  Graduation from an accredited college or university with a bachelor’s degree in education, educational administration, business administration, or related fields is required. A master’s degree in the aforementioned fields is desirable.

Director of Human Resources, Blue Hawaiian Helicopters  A bachelor’s degree is required, while Professional in Human Resources (PHR) or Senior Professional in Human Resources (SPHR) certification is preferred.

Employee Relations Manager, Hawaii Pacific Health  A bachelor’s degree in human resources management, business, or related field, and/or an equivalent combination of education, training, and experience is required. PHR or SPHR certification is preferred.

Human Resource Specialist, ALTRES  A bachelor’s degree in business administration or related business field is required; SPHR or PHR certification or 2-4 years related human resources experience is also required.

Additional Resources for HR Professionals in Hawaii

Human resources employers in Hawaii are found in both the public and private sectors. The following organizations and companies employ Hawaii’s human resources professionals.


Human Resources Staffing Agencies


Sponsored Content

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.

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 – The BLS salary data shown here represents median – 90th percentile salary ranges for the state and includes workers at all levels of education and experience. This data does not represent starting salaries. 

 Job growth projections sourced from the Hawaii State Department of Labor and Industrial Relations and published in the U.S. Department of Labor-funded Long Term Occupational Projections (2016-2026) database – Employment conditions in your area may vary.

All salary and job growth data accessed in September 2019.

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