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

Iowa – It’s got one of the lowest unemployment rates in the country – just 2.5 percent as of August 2019, tying it for third place (behind only North Dakota and Vermont) and, according to the Iowa College Access Network (ICAN), it ranks as the one number place to find a job in the U.S. thanks to a diversified economy and job growth that continues to impress.

Iowa provides the ideal environment for human resources professionals here, from HR managers and compensation and benefits managers to human resources specialists and labor relations specialists.

According to statistics from the Iowa Workforce Development and the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), there’s plenty to look forward to for HR management and specialist positions in Iowa:

Human Resources Management

  • Human Resources Managers The number of HR managers in Iowa is projected to increase 13.8 percent between 2016 and 2026, which is much higher than the national projected growth rate of 9 percent for this profession.
  • Compensation and Benefits Managers The median salary for compensation and benefits managers in Iowa is $94,870, and the top 10% here earn an average salary of $168,530.
  • Training and Development Managers The number of training and development managers is projected to increase 12.5 percent between 2016 and 2026, surpassing the national projected increase of 10.4 percent for this profession.

Human Resources Specialists and Assistants

  • Human Resources Specialists HR specialists in Iowa earn a median salary of $54,610 and a top (90thpercentile) salary of $87,320.
  • Labor Relations Specialists Labor relations specialists in Iowa earn a median salary of $67,740, which is about $4,000 more than the national median salary for this profession.
  • Training and Development Specialists The number of training and development specialists in Iowa is projected to increase by 12.6 percent between 2016 and 2026, rising from 5,640 to 6,350.
  • Compensation, Benefits, and Job Analysis Specialists The median salary for compensation, benefits, and job analysis specialists in Iowa is $60,470, which is just below the national median salary of $63,000 for these HR pros.
  • Human Resources Assistants HR assistants in Iowa earn a median salary of $40,190, which is in line with the national median salary of $40,390 for these professionals.

Exploring HR Careers with Iowa’s Biggest Employers

Iowa’s top employers drive much of the demand for HR professionals throughout the state. The BLS recognizes the following companies as the largest employers in the state:

  • University of Iowa Healthcare: 11,000 employees
  • City of Iowa City: 10,000 employees
  • Rockwell Collins: 8,000 employees
  • Blank Children’s Hospital: 6,000 employees
  • Mercy Medical Center: 5,000 employees

HR professionals handle a variety of workplace duties that include staffing, resolving inter-staff disputes, and helping employees understand their benefits. The following job descriptions provide a more comprehensive understanding of the daily functions of the HR professionals that work with some of Iowa’s top employers (Shown for illustrative purposes only):

Human Resources Generalist, Client Growth Consultants  The generalist will work with the company’s talent acquisition team, the general manager, and the president to identify, attract, and successfully recruit employees.

Human Resources Recruiter, Mercy Hospital  Job duties include the implementation of a corporate recruitment strategy, interviewing potential employees, and providing other corporate human resources services to affiliated subsidiaries of the hospital.

Human Resources Specialist, Renewable Energy Group, Inc.  The human resources specialist will manage the electronic timekeeping system, assist employees in issues related to pay and salary, and assist in job fairs and educational presentations.

The Right Education for HR Managers and Specialists

Just some of the majors relevant to HR training specialists, recruiters, compensation and benefits managers, labor relations specialists, and HR managers include:

  • Human resources
  • Human resource management
  • Business administration
  • Industrial relations
  • Industrial organizational relations/psychology

A bachelor’s degree is appropriate for most positions, including those in lower-to-mid-level management. Upper-level management, consultant and executive positions are generally reserved for those with a master’s degree of specialized MBA.

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Bachelor’s Degrees

Undergraduate human resources programs give students a foundation of knowledge and skills applicable to the professional human resources fields. Bachelor’s degrees related to human resources, including the Bachelor of Science (BS), the Bachelor of Arts (BA), and the Bachelor of Business Administration (BBA), are sought as a minimum requirement by most of Iowa’s human resources employers.

Examples of bachelor’s degree programs related to human resources available online and at schools throughout Iowa include:

  • Bachelor of Business Administration with a concentration in Organizational Behavior and Human Resource Management
  • Bachelor of Arts in Management with a Human Resources Concentration
  • Bachelor of Arts in Human Resource Management
  • Bachelor of Science in Human Resources
  • Bachelor of Science in Business Administration with a concentration in Human Resources & Organizational Development

Bachelor’s degree programs offer a variety of courses designed to prepare students for the diverse challenges of working with employees in the corporate environment:

  • Organizational Development
  • Organizational Change
  • Management for Organizations
  • Human Resources Management
  • Business Law
  • Principles of Accounting
  • Recruiting and Staffing

Master’s Degrees

While a bachelor’s degree is often a minimum requirement for human resources workers, many employers prefer that candidates for management positions possess a master’s degree related to the field. Most HR grad programs accept students with a broad range of undergraduate degrees, making them ideal for everyone from recent college grads to career changers.

Examples of master’s degrees appropriate for human resource managers include:

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

Master’s degree programs give professionals the opportunity to learn skills related to the management of human capital throughout large enterprises:

  • Operations management
  • Quantitative analysis for decision making
  • Best Practices in HR
  • HR Leadership and Ethics
  • Marketing strategies
  • Internal Consulting Skills

Professional Certification

Employers often prefer job candidates who possess voluntary certification from a national organization. Several of these organizations and the certification options they offer include:

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)

The education requirements listed in the following recent job postings demonstrate the value of undergraduate and graduate degrees related to human resources(Shown for illustrative purposes only):

Human Resources Coordinator, Iowa State University – The position requires a bachelor’s degree and two years of related experience; or a master’s degree and related experience.

Recruiting Specialist, Nationwide Mutual Insurance Company  Ideal candidate will have completed undergraduate studies in human resource management, business, or related areas.

Human Resources Specialist, The University of Iowa – A bachelor’s degree in human resources management or business administration or related field, or an equivalent combination of education and experience is required.

Human Resources Coordinator, Northeast Iowa Community College – Required is a bachelor’s degree in human resources, business, management, organizational development, or related field.

Human Resources Employers and Professional Associations in Iowa

What follows is a list of human resources employers and professional associations in Iowa.


Professional Associations

Staffing Firms


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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 Iowa Workforce Development 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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