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

With more than 2,430 human resources managers working across the state as of 2019, Oregon offers plenty of employment opportunities for high-level HR professionals. In even more good news, the State of Oregon Employment Department expects the number of job openings for HR managers to top 2,850 by 2026.

HR Management Roles

  • Human Resources Managers3 percent increase for an average of 250 openings per year
  • Training and Development Managers1 percent increase for an average of 40 openings per year

Non-managerial HR Roles

  • Compensation, Benefits, and Job Analysis Specialists6 percent increase for an average of 90 openings per year
  • Human Resources Specialists4 percent increase for an average of 730 openings per year
  • Training and Development Specialists2 percent increase for an average of 400 openings per year
  • Labor Relations Specialists: 6 percent increase for an average of 120 openings per year
  • Human Resources Assistants: 1 percent increase for an average of 160 openings per year

According to the State of Oregon Employment Department, as of August 2019 the state’s unemployment rate was at 4%, the lowest since the recession of 2009. Growth in major industries inherently indicates a growing demand for HR professionals who are needed to recruit, hire, train, and manage employee compensation and benefits for a growing workforce. The biggest players include the technology industry that makes up Portland’s Silicon Forest, along with health care, consumer goods and academia.

The U.S. Department of Labor lists some of the largest employers building up Oregon’s workforce, while also driving demand for human resources professionals in the state:

  • Nike, Beaverton – 6,000 employees
  • Blount Inc., Portland – 4,000 employees
  • Oregon State University, Corvallis – 8,000 employees
  • Intel Corp., Hillsboro – 6,300 employees
  • Oregon Health and Science University, Portland– 6,768 employees
  • Peace Health Oregon Region, Eugene – 4,000 employees
  • Portland International Airport, Portland – 4,000 employees

What Oregon’s Top Employers Look for in a Human Resources Professional

From recruiting and hiring coordinators to employee relations consultants and HR managers to training and development specialists, jobs in human resources are varied and often highly specialized.

Job descriptions and related requirements offer insight into what some of Oregon’s top employers are looking for (shown for illustrative purposes only):

Director of Human Resources in Wilsonville – Applicants for this position should hold a master’s degree in human resources, business management, or another related field, along with having fifteen years of experience. Applicants who also hold HR certifications will be preferred.

In this role, the you will partner with the senior management team to develop retention strategies, supervise HR operations, oversee new employee orientation, and conduct wage surveys within the labor market.

Senior Human Resources Business Partner in Portland – To be considered for this position, applicants must have a bachelor’s degree in human resources or a related field, PHR or SPHR certification, and at least seven years of experience working in a company of over five hundred employees. Advanced education may be supplemented for some years of work experience.

In this role, the HR professional will be responsible for risk management administration, leave of absence administration, new hire orientation, and talent acquisition.

Human Resources Business Partner with Nike in Portland – Job applicants for this position should have a bachelor’s degree in business, human resources, behavioral sciences, or another related field, and eight years of experience in all HR areas, including organizational planning, talent management, compensation and total rewards, and infrastructure. Advanced education may be supplemented in lieu of experience.

This position will work in all HR roles, including onboarding, recruiting talent, facilitate development, and diagnose business needs.

HR Business Partner with Squarespace in Portland – Applicants will need a BA or BS in human resources (or another related field), five years of working experience as an HR professional, and PHR or SPHR certification.

The right person to fill this position will be able to design learning and development programs, build relations throughout the company, on-board new employees, and work with the benefits manager to plan wellness events.

Human Resources Analyst 3 (Employee Relations Consultant) for the State of Oregon Environmental Services Division – The applicant for this position will want to hold a bachelor’s degree in human resource management, organizational behavior or development, business or public administration, behavioral science, or industrial relations. Along with this, HR certification is preferred, and three years of HR experience is necessary; however, a master’s degree in any of the listed fields can substitute for one year of experience.

This job will focus on labor relations, state policy, and union contract interpretation.

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The Right Degree for a Career in Human Resources

While many human resources professionals begin their careers with a bachelor’s degree in a relevant major, career advancement often comes with experience, graduate education, and certification.

Obtaining a Bachelor’s Degree

Employers often look for HR professionals with bachelor’s degrees in human resources, industrial relations, businesses administration, or another related field. Undergraduate degrees specifically tailored toward human resources include, but are not limited to:

  • BA or BS in Human Resources
  • BA or BS in Human Resource Management
  • BS in Business – Human Resource Management
  • BBA – Human Resource Management

Generally, bachelors in human resources will include courses concerning the entire HR body of knowledge, as specified by the Human Resources Certification Institute, which includes:

  • Strategic Management
  • Workforce Planning and Employment
  • Human Resource Development
  • Compensation and Benefits
  • Employee and Labor Relations
  • Occupational Health, Safety, and Security

Additionally, degrees in human resource management or business degrees with HR concentrations will include various business-related topics, including:

  • Leadership and Management
  • Business Law and Ethics
  • Accounting
  • Information Systems Management
  • Economics
  • Quantitative Analysis
  • Finance
  • Marketing and Communications

Bachelor’s degrees prepare students to enter the HR workforce in various capacities, including as generalists and specialists in the areas of:

  • Compensation and Benefits
  • Training and Development
  • Employee Relations

Advancing to a Master’s Degree

Going on to a degree in higher education will give HR professionals an edge in the market. Master’s degrees can be achieved through an online format, through on-campus programs, or through programs that blend the two.

Graduate degrees applicable to human resources jobs include, but are not limited to:

  • MA or MS in Human Resources
  • MA or MS in Human Resources Management
  • MA or MS in Human Resource Development
  • MA Human Resources and Industrial Relations
  • MA in Human Resources and Change Leadership
  • Master of Management (MAM) with Human Relations Concentration
  • Master of Business Administration (MBA) with Human Relations Concentration

While a master’s degree in human resources or human resources management (HRM) would be geared toward knowledge specifically in the area of human resources, master’s degrees in business with concentrations in human resources are more geared toward providing an overarching understanding of business operations in the context of human resources.

Although some courses may overlap, different types of graduate degrees offer different foci:

Masters of Business Administration – Human Resources

  • Managerial Accounting and Economics
  • Financial Management
  • Multinational Corporate Environment
  • Information Technology
  • Quantitative Analysis
  • Operations Management
  • Marketing Strategies

Masters in Human Resource Management

  • Corporate Communications
  • Strategic Human Resource Management
  • Total Rewards
  • Law, Ethics, and Politics in HR
  • Leading Change
  • Business Research
  • Negotiation and Advocacy
  • Managing Difficult Conversations
  • Business Foundations

Masters in Management – Human Resources

  • Foundations of Human Resource Development
  • Current Issues in Business and Management
  • Organizational Behavior
  • Diversity for Strategic Advantage
  • Management for the Worldwide Organization
  • Corporate and Organizational Readership
  • Managing Human Capital
  • Human Resource Management

Any of these master’s degree options would be appropriate for the following positions, among many other management and executive level jobs:

  • Director of Human Resources
  • Organizational Development Manager
  • Human Resources Analyst

Human Resources Certifications

Earning a specialized certification is one way to prove dedication to the highest standards of excellence in the field of human resources. Certification can be achieved through these organizations:

Society for 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)

Employers and Resources for Oregon’s HR Professionals

Listed here are helpful resources for staffing firms and human resource associations. Joining an association provides new and experienced professionals with opportunities to network, hear about legislative developments, and find opportunities to engage in professional development.

Oregon Staffing Firms

Oregon HR Associations


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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.

Job growth projections sourced from the Oregon Employment Department  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 October 2019.

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