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

In Montana, HR pros at all levels are enjoying attractive job prospects, thanks to a low unemployment rate and strong labor force.

Montana’s unemployment rate continues to remain below the national average, coming in at 3.4% as of November 2019—below the national unemployment rate of 3.5%. According to the Montana Department of Labor and Industry, Montana’s labor force is projected to grow by 3,900 workers through 2028, largely driven by jobs in the healthcare and tech sectors.

For professionals in human resources, this spells opportunity – the lower the overall unemployment rate, the higher the likelihood that companies will employ a greater number of HR specialists and managers to oversee everything from job recruitment to employee benefits.

Job growth projections from the Montana Department of Labor and Industry and salary stats from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) provide a clear picture of the opportunities for HR professionals in Montana:

Human Resources Management

  • Human Resources Managers – The number of human resources managers in Montana is projected to surpass the national growth rate between 2016 and 2026 – 10.5% to 9%.
  • Compensation and Benefits Managers – – The number of compensation and benefits managers in Montana is projected to increase 10.5% between 2016 and 2026 – that’s double the national projected growth rate of 5.1% for this profession during this time.

Human Resources Specialists and Assistants

  • Human Resources Specialists – Human resources specialists in Montana earn a median salary of $50,060 and a top (90th percentile) salary of $79,640.
  • Labor Relations Specialists – The median salary for labor relations specialists in Montana is $57,160.
  • Training and Development Specialists – The projected growth rate of Montana’s training and development specialists between 2016 and 2026 is 11.9% – that’s higher than the national projected growth rate of 11.5% for this profession during the same period.
  • Compensation, Benefits, and Job Analysis Specialists – The projected job growth for Montana’s compensation, benefits, and job analysis specialists is 10.4% between 2016 and 2026 – that’s higher than the national projected growth rate of 8.5% during the same period.
  • Human Resources Assistants – Human resources assistants in Montana earn a median salary of $37,660 – that’s just slightly below the national median salary of $40,390 for these professionals.

Qualifying for a Career in Human Resources Management in Montana

If you want to enter the field of HR management, chances are you’ll need a degree to get you there. Whether it’s in human resources, business administration, or a similar field, a college degree is what you covet if you want to experience success as a compensation and benefits manager, training specialist, employee relations manager, or a similar profession.

Bachelor’s Degrees in Human Resources

A bachelor’s degree in human resources, which is often structured as a Bachelor of Science (BS), a Bachelor of Arts (BA), or a Bachelor of Business Administration (BBA), is designed to prepare tomorrow’s human resources coordinators, analysts, recruiters, directors, and supervisors through the completion of coursework that emphasizes an interdisciplinary understanding of employee needs, selection and placement, and training and development.

These programs often culminate in internship experiences, which may take place in virtually any sector, including government, nonprofit, academic, and for-profit businesses, agencies, and/or organizations.

The core coursework in a bachelor’s degree in human resources typically includes:

  • Business ethics
  • Organizational behavior
  • HR policies
  • Compensation and benefits
  • Regulations in the workplace
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Master’s Degrees in Human Resources

Senior-level positions in human resources, such as compensation and benefits consultants, staffing managers, HR directors, training managers, and employee relations directors generally require completing a graduate education in human resources.

Some of the most popular master’s degree programs in human resources include:

  • Master of Arts (MA) in Organizational Management with a concentration in Human Resources
  • 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’s degrees in human resources often allow students to narrow their focus on a specific area of study, such as compensation, labor law, collective bargaining, or staffing and development. Many students also choose to complete a more general master’s degree in human resources. MBAs are a popular pursuit among human resources professionals, as they provide a focused study in human resources with foundational coursework in business.

Admission into HR master’s programs often depends on a candidate’s undergraduate GPA and the completion of specific undergraduate courses in areas such as business, finance, and human resources.

Just some of the coursework completed in a master’s degree in human resources include:

  • Corporate Communications
  • Strategic Human Resource Management
  • Law, Ethics, and Politics in Human Relations
  • Talent Development and Workforce Planning
  • Human Resource Information Systems

Professional Certification in Human Resources

A professional designation in human resources from a recognized certifying body often serves as an excellent addition to a bachelor’s or master’s degree in human resources:

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)

Montana’s Top Employers of HR Professionals

According to 2019 BLS numbers, the largest employers in Montana include:

  • Billings Clinic: 13,350 employees
  • Malmstrom Air Force Base: 3,000 employees
  • Public Health & Human Services: 3,000 employees
  • Benefis Health System: 2,300 employees
  • JF Overman Construction: 1,992 employees
  • University of Montana: 1,500 employees

One of the most effective ways of understanding what Montana’s biggest employers are looking for from professionals in the field of human resources is through recent job postings.

What Montana’s Top Employers are Looking for in an HR Management Professional

The following job posts reveal some of the responsibilities and requirements for human resources professionals in Montana:

Human Resources Manager, State of Montana

This position requires designing, implementing, managing, and aligning human resource strategies with the agency’s mission; and developing and managing strategic human resource programs through organizational development, recruitment and selection, and employee training and development.

Candidates must possess a bachelor’s degree in human resources, personnel administration, business administration, or public administration, along with at least 5 years of progressively responsible experience in human resource management.

Recruiter, HUB International, Billings

This position calls for candidates for account management and administrative positions and would involve developing and implementing aggressive marketing and recruitment sourcing strategies, screening resumes, and performing interviews for referrals to managers.

Candidates must possess a bachelor’s degree or relevant work experience, with a PHR certification considered a desirable designation.

Compensation/Benefit Specialist, Kalispell Regional Medical Center, Kalispell

This position requires serving as a primary contact for benefits and compensation divisions, establishing relationships with employees and managers, maintaining current job descriptions and pay scales, and overseeing all department/division personnel changes, payroll changes, and evaluations.

Candidates for this position must possess an associate’s degree in business administration, human resources, accounting, or a related field, along with at least four years of work experience. A bachelor’s degree in business, accounting, or human resources is preferred.

Director of Human Resources, Envirocon, Missoula

This position involves implementing practices and objectives that provide an employee-oriented, high performance culture that emphasizes quality, productivity, and goal attainment. This position would involve serving on the senior management team, assisting and advising company managers about human resources issues.

Candidates for this position must possess a bachelor’s degree or equivalent, preferably in human resources, organizational development, or business; at least 10 years of progressive leadership experience in human resources; and an SPHR or SHRM-SCP certification.

Resources for Human Resources Professionals in Montana


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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 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 Montana Department of Labor and Industry 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 December 2019.

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