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

According to the U.S. Department of Labor, Oklahoma recently ranked among the top states in the nation in terms of the number of HR managers working in the state, with some 1,400 as of last count in 2014.

Additionally, the Oklahoma Employment Security Commission expects the number of jobs for human resource managers and specialists to continue growing during its ten-year projection period between 2012 and 2022:

  • The number of jobs for human resources managers is expected to grow by 10.8 percent
  • The number of jobs for human resources specialists is expected to grow by 5.2 percent

Job growth in major industries signals growth in the field of human resources, as these professionals are needed to recruit, hire, train, and manage a growing workforce. According to the Oklahoma Economic Research and Analysis Division, as of 2014 the unemployment rate in Oklahoma dropped to 3.9 percent, the lowest it had been in the past seven years.

The Business Journal and Fortune Magazine have both named the companies that contribute most to growing the size of Oklahoma’s workforce, and by extension, increasing the demand for human resource professionals in the state:

  • Chesapeake Energy – 3,964 employees
  • Advance Pierre Foods Inc. – 2,200 employees
  • Devon Energy – 1,546 employees
  • Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc. – 1,260 employees
  • American Fidelity Assurance Company – 1,010employees
  • The Oklahoma Publishing Company – 1,000 employees
  • H. Braum DBA Braum’s Dairy Stores – 1,000 employees

What Oklahoma’s Top Employers Look for When Hiring and Promoting HR Professionals

From talent resource leaders to employee relations specialists to HR managers, Oklahoma’s top companies employ a diverse range of specialists and leaders within their human resources departments. Together, these professionals work to recruit, hire, train, and develop employees, along with providing them with legal, compensation and benefits support.

The following job descriptions help illustrate what some of Oklahoma’s top employers are looking for in human resource professionals, the following jobs and job descriptions are listed (taken from a survey of job vacancies conducted in May 2015):

HR Specialist at Brookside Nursing Center in Ardmore – The applicant to this position should hold a minimum of two years experience in an HR support role in a healthcare environment, and a bachelor’s degree in human resources, business management, or another related field is preferred.

This professional will maintain and audit personnel files, administer employee status changes, provide background and fingerprinting requests, track performance reviews, and assist with FMLA administration and OSHA logs.

Talent Resource Leader: HR Manager for JCPenny in Oklahoma City – The professional in this role will benefit from obtaining a bachelor’s degree in human resources or business management, since the job entails being responsible for a team, and being accountable for all store training programs, all scheduling resources, and all talent acquisition.

Human Resources Generalist at Sprouts Farmers Market in Edmond – Applicants for this position should have a bachelor’s degree in human resources, business, or a related field, along with two years of experience in an HR role.

This professional will monitor hiring, fielding complaints, conducting investigations, and employee training.

Employee Relations Specialist for Loves Travel Stops & Country Store in Oklahoma City – This applicant should have a bachelor’s degree in human resources and will be responsible for developing and implementing company policies.

Human Resources Manager for Universal Health Services in Bethany – The applicant for this position should have a bachelor’s degree in human resources, and it is preferred that the applicant hold advanced designation, such as HR certification, a masters degree, or a strong HR generalist background.

This professional will manage the screening, selection, orientation, training, and development of all employees in the sixty-bed behavioral health hospital.

Human Resource Business Partner at the OU Medical Center in Oklahoma City – The applicant for this position will be required to hold a bachelor’s degree in human resources or a related field, will need two years of experience, and HR certification is preferred.

This professional will be responsible for implementing HR programs, implementing development programs, supporting employee and community engagement, and implementing business performance initiatives.

Employment Specialist (Employment Coordinator) with the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs in Oklahoma City – The applicant for this position should have extensive professional experience or a master’s degree in human resources or business management.

This professional will oversee the readiness of job-seekers, counsel disabled veterans to make informed employment decisions, coordinate and perform evaluations and assessments, and coordinate development courses for veterans.

Earning a Degree in Human Resources

Many HR professionals begin a career as specialists or lower-level managers with a bachelor’s degree in human resources or business administration. Upper level management and executive positions are typically reserved for those with several years of experience, a master’s degree or specialized MBA with a human resource management concentration, and professional certification.

Obtaining a Bachelor’s Degree in Human Resources

Some degree options for students looking to obtain a bachelors in the field of human resources include: 

  • Bachelor of Arts or Science (BA or BS) in Human Resources
  • Bachelors of Business Administration (BBA) in Human Resource Management

While a bachelors in human resource can prepare students to become generalists, some degrees, such as the BBA, can prepare students to fill HR management and HR specialist roles upon graduation.

Generalists are more likely to work in smaller companies that employ one human resources professional to manage all HR duties—from hiring, training, and developing employees to implementing employment laws and serving as an advisor for both management and employees. On the other hand, specialists are more likely to fit within bigger companies that require many different HR professionals to perform different specialized functions. These bachelors degrees will generally include core courses that will prepare students to excel in all human resource roles. For example, core courses will likely include:

  • Human resource management
  • Human resource training and development
  • Recruitment and selection
  • Human resource international business
  • Legal environment of business

When looking to obtain a specialized degree, such as a BBA in human resource management, the program will include specialized courses such as:

  • Accounting I
  • Microeconomics
  • Principles of business statistics
  • Operations management
  • Management information systems
  • Principles of management and marketing
  • Fundamentals of business finance
  • Business communication

Job opportunities for human resource professionals in Oklahoma with a bachelor’s degree are listed here, (taken from vacancy survey in 2015 and shown for illustrative purposes only):

  • HR Manager for Oil States International in Tulsa
  • Human Resources Technician I for Oklahoma State University in Stillwater
  • Training Specialist II for the State of Oklahoma Department of Rehabilitation in Oklahoma City

Obtaining a Master’s Degree in Human Resources

Obtaining a master’s degree can be a great way to obtain further specialization or depth of knowledge in the field of human resources, and it has the potential to open up advanced job opportunities, such as those in human resource management or partnership. Master’s degrees in human resources are generally offered in both online and in-person programs, and they can be found under many different titles, including:

  • Master of Arts or Science (MA or MS) in Human Resources
  • Master of Business Administration (MBA) with human resources concentration
  • Master of Arts or Science in Human Resource Management
  • Master of Science in Human Resources and Organizational Development (MS HROD)
  • Master of Management (MAM) with human resources concentration

In some of these programs, such as the MS HROD, graduate students may choose to focus on a certain aspect of human resources, such as human resource leadership, workplace learning and performance, or health professions education. While some courses may overlap, distinguishing courses for a few degrees are listed here:

MA or MS in Human Resources

  • Corporate Communication
  • Strategic Human Resource Management
  • Law, Ethics, and Politics in Human Relations
  • Human Resource Information Systems
  • Negotiation and Advocacy in the Workplace
  • Talent Development and Workforce Planning

MBA with Human Resources Concentration

  • Management
  • Human Capital Management
  • Business Law and Human Resource Law
  • Organizational Leadership
  • Economics
  • Accounting
  • Operations Management
  • Strategic Planning and Implementation
  • Organizational Training and Development

MS in Human Resource Management

  • Human Resource Systems
  • Staffing Tools and Systems
  • Compensation
  • Industrial Relations
  • Business Analytics
  • Organizational Behavior
  • Employment Law
  • Managerial Communications
  • Microeconomics
  • Accounting or Financial Management
  • Talent Management

MS HROD with Human Resource Leadership Concentration

  • Talent Acquisition and Management
  • Performance Management and Rewards
  • Organizational Change and Consulting

MS HROD with Workplace Learning and Performance Concentration

  • Instructional Design and Development
  • Methods of Facilitation
  • E-Learning Design and Development

MS HROD with Health Professions Education Concentration

  • Teaching and Learning in Health Professions
  • Adult and Organizational Learning

Job vacancies that showed a preference for candidates with a master’s degree are listed here (taken from a survey of job ads conducted in 2015 and shown for illustrative purposes only):

  • HR Director for Ponca City Medical Center & Blackwell Hospital in Ponca City
  • HR Manager for HE&M, Inc. in Pyror
  • HR Generalist at Harsco Corporation in Catoosa
  • HR Business Partner for Nortek Air Solutions in Okarche

Certification for HR Professionals

Employers often seek candidates with HR certification, which will distinguish the human resources professional and show their dedication to excellence in the field:

The Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) offers these two HR certifications:

The HR Certification Institute (HRCI) offers these five HR certifications, based on differing experience, education, and specializations:

HR Associations and Staffing Firms in Oklahoma

Joining a human resources association is an easy way to network with other human resources professionals, to learn about happenings in the field, and to find both employment and legislative information:

HR Associations

HR Staffing Firms

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