Montana’s unemployment rate continues to remain below the national average. In fact, Montana added more than 11,000 jobs since the beginning of 2015. 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.
Recent efforts to improve the average wage in Montana have resulted in further growth for Montana’s economy, according to the Flathead Beacon. As such, the state’s wage growth has outpaced the national average for the last 10 years, signaling economic progress and an increased standard of living. Add to that what economists call the “window tax,” a term that references the high quality of life that Montana has to offer, and it’s clear to see why professional opportunities in human resources in Montana are a sure bet.
The Montana Department of Labor and Industry reports strong job growth projections for a number of HR job classifications:
- Compensation, Benefits, and Job Analysis Specialists: 178 employed in 2012 with 201 expected by 2022
- Human Resources Managers: 147 employed in 2012 with 167 expected by 2022
- Human Resources Specialists: 1,234 employed in 2012 with 1,330 expected by 2022
The projections shown here represent the total number of HR professionals the state’s employers expect to need by 2022. The actual number of job openings will be higher than the difference between the 2012 and 2022 totals when factoring in professionals that will need to be replaced as they enter retirement.
Where are Montana’s human resources jobs located? The largest number of human resources specialists, managers, and directors can often be linked directly to those Montana companies that employ the largest number of workers.
The Montana Department of Labor and Industry maintains a list of the state’s largest employers, which range from private business to government to academia to the nonprofit sector:
- Aware Inc., Helena
- Benefis Healthcare, Great Falls
- Billings Clinic Health System, Billings
- Bozeman Deaconess Hospital, Bozeman
- First Interstate Bank, Great Falls
- Glacier Bancorp, Kalispell
- Montana State University, Bozeman
- Vincent Healthcare, Billings
- Malmstrom Air Force Base, Malmstrom AFB
Qualifying for a Career in Human Resources Management in Montana
A career in human resources often starts with a bachelor’s degree in business, finance, administration, or human resources. However, management positions often go to those with a master’s degree or specialized MBA in HR management.
Bachelor’s Degrees in Human Resources
A bachelor’s degree in human resources, which is often designed 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
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)
- Professional in Human Resources (PHR)
- Senior Professional in Human Resources (SPHR)
- Global Professional in Human Resources (GPHR)
- Human Resource Management Professional (HRMP)
- Human Resource Business Professional (HRBP)
- California Certification for PHR and SPHR certified professionals
Job Requirements for Careers in Human Resource Management in Montana
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.
The following job descriptions reveal some of the responsibilities and requirements for human resources professionals in Montana (Examples are from a May 2015 survey of job postings and are show for illustrative purposes only.):
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
- State of Montana, State Human Resources Division
- Montana State Council, Society for Human Resource Management
- Big Sky Society for Human Resource Management
- Montana Society of Healthcare Human Resource Administrators