With more than 1,940 human resources managers working across the state as of 2014, the U.S. Department of Labor ranked Oregon among the states with the most HR management professionals nationwide. In even more good news, the State of Oregon Employment Department expects the number of job openings for HR managers to be the highest of any occupational classification in the state between 2012 and 2022.
In fact, data suggests that many areas in the field are expected to experience significant job growth between 2012 and 2022:
- Human Resources Managers – 19.6 percent
- Human Resources Assistants – 5.9 percent
- Training and Development Specialists – 18.7 percent
According to the State of Oregon Employment Department, as of April 2015 the state’s unemployment rate was at 5.2%, 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 the employers that make a significant contribution to the growth of Oregon’s workforce, while also driving demand for human resources professionals in the state:
- Nike, Beaverton – 20,000 employees
- Ics Blount Inc., Portland – 12,000 employees
- Oregon State University, Corvallis – 8,000 employees
- Intel Corp., Hillsboro – 6,300 employees
- Hewlett-Packard, Corvallis – 5,500 employees
- Kaiser Permanente Sunnyside, Clackamas – 5,000 employees
- Sacred Heart Medical Center, Springfield – 5,000 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 (findings from a survey of HR jobs on WorkSource Oregon taken in May 2015 are shown for illustrative purposes and do not constitute job offers):
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 professional 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 professional 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 professional to fill this position will 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 professional will focus on labor relations, state policy, and union contract interpretation.
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
- Information Systems Management
- Quantitative Analysis
- 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
Achieving 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 success 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 jobs, among many other management and executive level jobs:
- Director of Human Resources
- Organizational Development Manager
- Human Resources Analyst
Human Resources Certifications
Achieving 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:
HR Certification Institute (HRCI), which offers:
- 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)
Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), which offers:
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
- Staffing Solutions LLC – Portland
- Emerald Staffing – Portland
- Express Employment Professionals – Bend
- Opti Staffing Group – Portland
- Staffing Partners – Portland
Oregon HR Associations
- Portland Human Resources Management Association
- Northwest Human Resource Management Association
- Human Resource Association of Central Oregon
- Oregon State Council – Society for Human Resource Management
- Salem Human Resources Management Association
- Rogue Valley Society for Human Resource Management