A 2015 Gallup study found that Nebraska’s job market is one of the best in the country, which means that companies are hiring and human resources professionals are in demand.
In a survey of more than 1,700 Nebraska workers, 40 percent said their employer was hiring. Add to that Nebraska’s low 2.9% unemployment rate, and it’s clear that Nebraska’s economy is thriving. The Nebraska Department of Labor called the Cornhusker State “an excellent job market for job seekers,” which is music to the ears of human resources professionals whose job it is to recruit, vet, hire and train Nebraska’s human capital.
In other words, it’s a safe bet to assume that as businesses in Nebraska hire and take on more employees, a staff of competent human resource specialists, directors, analysts, and recruiters are needed to ensure a fine-tuned corporate machine.
It comes as no surprise that the Department of Labor’s projections for human resources jobs are in line with the state’s growing economy:
- Compensation and Benefits Managers: 83 employed in 2012 with 91 expected by 2022
- Human Resources Managers: 401 employed in 2012 with 482 expected by 2022
- Training and Development Managers: 141 employed in 2012 with 158 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.
Human Resource Degree and Certification Options
A career in human resources often starts with an education in business, finance, administration, or human resources. Management and supervisory positions in human resources management often go to those with a master’s degree or specialized MBA in a field of study related to human resources.
Bachelor’s Degrees in Human Resources
Individuals who possess bachelor’s degrees in human resources are well positioned for jobs such as employee relations specialists, compensation analysts, HR generalists, and HR associates.
Bachelor’s degrees in human resources may be designed as Bachelor of Science (BS), Bachelor of Arts (BA), or Bachelor of Business Administration (BBA) degrees. All programs, although they may provide a liberal arts, scientific, or business foundation, prepare students to apply concepts of learning to social and workplace situations so as to enhance employee motivation and achievement.
Coursework in a bachelor’s degree in human resources program often includes the following:
- Employment law
- Labor/management relations
- Health & safety in the workplace
- Social psychology
- Staffing and employment practices
Master’s Degrees in Human Resources
Master’s degrees in human resources, like their undergraduate counterparts, may be designed as Master of Human Resources (MHR), Master of Arts (MA), Master of Science (MS), or Master of Business Administration (MBA) programs.
The MBA in Human Resources (also often called an MBA in Human Resource Management, an MBA with a concentration in Human Resources, or an MBA in Organizational Leadership and Human Resources) prepares students for management level positions in human resources.
These programs prepare human resources managers and business leaders to focus on the managerial skills and business knowledge needed to manage human resource functions, such as:
Admission into a master’s degree in human resources is often dependent upon the candidate’s undergraduate GPA. Although a bachelor’s degree in human resources is not required to pursue a graduate degree in human resources, most programs require candidates to possess some experience or undergraduate coursework in business and human resources.
Most master’s programs allow students to either complete a general course of study in human resources or focus their study on any one of a number of areas, such as compensation and benefits, labor law, and collective bargaining.
Certification Options in Human Resources
Similar to many other professions, professional certification in human resources and human resources management is a sign of advanced study, leadership, and a commitment to continuing education.
The most widely recognized professional designations in human resources, both of which are examination-based credentials, include:
- 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 a Career in Human Resources
An understanding of what employers are looking for in the human resource professionals they hire can be found by examining recent job posts, which detail both job descriptions and requirements (Examples have been taken from a May 2015 survey of job postings and are show for illustrative purposes only.):
Senior HR Generalist: Prime Therapeutics, Omaha
This position involves providing human resource support to employees, supervisors, managers, and directors and maintaining a positive employee relations climate by responding to client concerns and addressing issues.
Candidates must possess a bachelor’s degree or the equivalent work experience and at least four to six years of HR-related experience.
Human Resources Manager: Nebraska Book Company, Lincoln
This position involves developing human resource practices, procedures, and plans; establishing human resource goals to align with business goals and objectives; implementing efficient human resources practices for employment processing, records management, and compliance; and leading a team to accomplish human resource projects and new initiatives.
Candidates for this position must possess a bachelor’s degree in human resources management or another related degree and at least three years of work experience.
Human Resources Director: Valmont Industries, Omaha
This position includes providing strategic direction and coordination of activities essential to building an inspired, high-achieving, and engaged workforce. Candidates for this position will collaborate with more than 1,500 employees in 6 units that oversee more than 18 sites across North America.
Candidates must possess a bachelor’s degree in human resources, business management, or a related field, along with at least 8 years of experience in human resources, with an emphasis on talent management, HR planning and strategy, and recruitment of leadership positions. Preferred candidates will possess an MBA or master’s degree in a related business management field.
Human Resources Generalist: Consulate Health Care, Omaha
This position involves the administration of HR policies and programs that cover employee relations and wellness programs. As such, it involves ensuring that HR practices are in compliance with regulatory requirements and internal policies, consulting with management regarding laws and regulations, and providing functional support with compensation, training, and employee recognition.
Candidates must possess a bachelor’s degree in HR, business, or a related field. PHR certification is a plus, as is manufacturing environment experience.
Nebraska’s Top Employers of Human Resources Professionals
Nebraska’s largest employers in general, also tend to be the largest employers of human resources professionals. These professionals are called upon to make effective use of company employees, reduce risk, and maximize a company’s return on investment, all while maintaining the employer-employee relationship.
Top employers of human resources professionals in Nebraska include:
- Tyson Foods, Inc.: More than 11,000 employees
- Offutt Air Force Base: About 9,500 employees
- University of Nebraska, Lincoln: About 9,000 employees
- Union Pacific, North Platte: About 7,800 employees
- First Data Corp, Omaha: About 5,000 employees
The Nebraska Department of Economic Development recently identified the top industry clusters in the state based on strengths in employment trends, economic output, geographic presence cross the state, and future growth projections. Human resources managers, directors, specialists, and generalists in Nebraska are likely to have more professional opportunities with companies in the following industries:
- Transportation Logistics
- Software and Technology
- Finance and Insurance
- R&D and Engineering
- Health Services
- Advanced Manufacturing
- Business Management and Administrative Services
Resources for Human Resources Professionals in Nebraska
- Human Resource Association of the Midlands
- Society of Human Resource Management, Nebraska State Council
- Central Nebraska Human Resource Management Association
- Western Nebraska Human Resources Management Association
- Lincoln Human Resource Management Association
- Nebraska Department of Health & Human Services, Human Resources & Development