According to the Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry, the number of jobs in human resources is expected to grow rapidly during the ten-year projection period leading up to 2026:
HR Management Roles
- Compensation and Benefits Managers: 6 percent increase for an average of 40 openings per year
- Human Resources Managers: 5 percent increase for an average of 380 openings per year
- Training and Development Managers: 1 percent increase for an average of 100 openings per year
Non-managerial HR Roles
- Compensation, Benefits, and Job Analysis Specialists: 9 percent increase for an average of 310 openings per year
- Human Resources Specialists: 6 percent increase for an average of 2,440 openings per year
- Training and Development Specialists: 9 percent increase for an average of 1,140 openings per year
- Labor Relations Specialists: 3 percent increase for an average of 440 openings per year
- Human Resources Assistants: 4 percent increase for an average of 590 openings per year
This growth is expected to further strengthen the already robust field of human resources in Pennsylvania, which has both high levels of employment and high rates of pay.
According to the U.S. Department of Labor, Pennsylvania was home to more than 23,000 HR specialists as of 2018, placing the state among the top five in the nation with the highest number of human resource specialists.
Pennsylvania holds promise for human resource managers, too, with Philadelphia being one of the highest paying metropolitan areas across the nation for this job class. According to the U.S Department of Labor, HR managers in this region earned an average annual salary of more than $146,000 as of 2018.
According to the Pennsylvania Department of Labor, as of August 2019 Pennsylvania’s unemployment rate dropped below the national average to just 3.9 percent. It is widely understood that as employment across all sectors increases, so do opportunities for the HR professionals responsible for recruiting, screening, training and managing a growing number of workers.
It is no surprise that the major employers that contribute significantly to growing a state’s workforce also tend to support the bulk of HR jobs. As of 2014, Pennsylvania’s top employers included:
- Wal-Mart Associates
- City of Philadelphia
- Trustees of the University of PA
- Giant Food Stores LLC
- Pennsylvania State University
- School District of Pennsylvania
- UPMC Presbyterian Shadyside
- United Parcel Service Inc.
- University of Pittsburgh
- PNC Bank
- Giant Eagle Inc.
- Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education
For these companies and others, HR professionals are needed not only to screen, recruit, interview, and place workers, but also to manage all facets of compensation, payroll, benefits, training, development, labor relations, and more.
Exploring Human Resources Careers in Pennsylvania’s Top Industries
Pennsylvania’s booming private sector has a demand for HR professionals, and hires them for varying job titles, such as recruiting manager, staffing consultant, HR manager, HR generalist, manager of training and development, HR business partner, and more.
Along with the private sector, the Pennsylvania Department of Labor indicates that the federal and state government are the top two largest employers throughout the state, so jobs and job requirements for HR positions at the federal, state, and local levels of government are also featured.
Human resources jobs in Pennsylvania with the federal government may be found in a number of federal departments and agencies, and would include such titles as:
- Human Resources Assistant (NAF Recruitment and Placement)
- Human Resource Specialist (Military)
- Human Resources Specialist
These positions may be found in the military, National Guard, NAF recruitment and placement, Department of Homeland Security, and other federal agencies (shown for illustrative purposes only):
Human Resources Assistant for the Department of Homeland Security – Applicants for this position may enter at the GS-05, GS-06, or GS-07 level, and must have specialized experience in HR processes and procedures.
Supervisory HR Specialist for the Department of Defense – For this GS-13 level position, applicants should have one year of specialized knowledge past the GS-12 level, including experience in labor relations, labor laws, regulatory requirements, analyzing workforce data, and more.
HR Specialist (Compensation) for Department of Defense – Applicants can enter this position at the GS-07, GS-09, or GS-11 level, having specialized experience in HR compensation policies, principals, regulations, wage and salary programs, and more.
The educational standards for different GS levels can vary:
- GS-05: Complete a bachelor’s degree (four academic years above high school)
- GS-07: Hold bachelor’s degree with honors, OR one year of graduate education
- GS-09: Hold master’s degree
- GS-11: Hold PhD
- GS-12 Hold research position with completed PhD
State and Local Governments
To find jobs with the State of Pennsylvania, HR professionals can explore the PA Employment Jobs website, which lists both civil service and non-civil service job openings.
An exploration of the varying jobs and job requirements reveal what level of education and experience HR professionals will need when looking for employment with the state (shown for illustrative purposes only):
Chief, Human Resource Development Division – To apply for this position, HR professionals need either a bachelor’s degree in human resources (or a related field) and six years of professional personnel experience, OR a master’s degree in human resources (or a related field) and at least four years of experience.
Human Resource Manager – Applicants for this position need either a bachelor’s degree in human resources (or a related field) and six years of professional HR experience, OR a master’s degree in human resources (or a related field) and one year of experience as a human resource analyst, labor relations specialist, or human resources director.
Varying HR job titles throughout Pennsylvania indicate the general educational and experience requirements HR professionals will need in order to be competitive.
Human Resources Coordinator for Vector Security Inc. in Warrendale—Applicants for this position should hold a bachelor’s degree in human resources (or a related field), and two (or more) years of HR experience, in order to assist the VP of HR in executing departmental responsibilities.
HR Business Partner for Kantar Media in West Chester – Applicants for positions such as this need a minimum of a bachelor’s degree in human resources (or a related field), and five to seven years of professional experience. HR certification is preferred, and some years of experience may be covered by advanced education instead, such as a master’s degree in human resources.
HR Manager for Fromm Electric Supply in Reading – Applicants to this position need a bachelor’s degree in human resources (or a related field) and five years of HR experience, OR an equivalent combination of education and experience, such as a master’s degree in human resources and three years of experience.
Selecting the Best Degree for a Career in Human Resources
The top employers in Pennsylvania look for the best-prepared HR professionals, which usually means those with advanced education and HR certification.
Although a master’s degree in human resources is appropriate for upper-level management and director positions, many HR professionals start their careers as generalists, specialists or lower-level managers by obtaining a bachelor’s degree.
Degrees applicable to the field of HR include bachelor’s or master’s degrees in fields such as human resources, psychology, business, communication, industrial relations, and more. Many of these degrees can be obtained through programs that are offered online, on-campus, or as a blend of both.
Bachelor’s Degree Options in Human Resources
At the undergraduate level, students may choose from many degrees that pertain to the field of human resources, including:
- Bachelor of Science or Arts (BA or BS) in Human Resources
- Bachelor of Science or Arts (BA or BS) in Human Resource Management
- Bachelor of Science in Business – Human Resource Management
- Bachelor of Business Administration (BBA) in Human Resources
There are a few nuanced differences between these degrees, such as:
- While a bachelor of science in HR is more likely to focus on scientific, quantities research, a bachelor of arts in HR is more likely to focus on theoretical concepts, such as employment law
- While a BA or BS in HR will focus directly on human resources concepts, a BA in business with a concentration in HR will blend business courses, such as business law, accounting, and finance, with HR courses, such as payroll and compensation
In all instances, courses that pertain to the core functions of human resources would be included in all relevant BA, BS or BBA programs:
- Employee Recruitment
- Training and Development
- Compensation and Benefits
- Workforce Development
- HR Management
- Labor Relations and Labor Law
HR professionals with bachelors’ degrees are generally prepared to apply for jobs in the workforce with titles such as:
- HR Generalist
- Employment and Training Specialist
- Employee Services Consultant
- Labor Relations Specialist
Master’s Degree Options in Human Resources
Most graduate programs will require that students meet high academic standards in order to enter, including:
- Holding a bachelor’s degree in human resources or a related field
- Holding a minimum 3.0 GPA in bachelor’s degree
After meeting admission criteria, HR professionals have varying degree options for a master’s degree related to the field, such as:
- MA or MS in Human Resources
- MA or MS in Human Capital Development
- MA or MS in Human Resource Management
- MA in Management (MAM) in Human Resources
- Master of Business Administration (MBA) with HR Concentration
A graduate degree in human resources will include courses directly pertaining to the field of human resources, including, but not limited to:
- Employee Benefits
- Reward Systems
- Internal Consulting Skills
- Employment Law
- Ethics and Corporate Social Responsibility
A graduate degree in human resource management will include courses more focused on the managing aspects of the profession, including:
- Managing Diversity
- Global Workforce Strategy
- Managing Workforce Flow
- Creating and Managing Organizational Change
- Advanced Statistics for HR Managers
Finally, a graduate degree in business with a concentration in human resources will blend business courses with human resources concepts, including courses such as:
- Financial Decisions
- Data-Based Decisions
- Business and Competitive Strategy
- Measurement Issues
- Developing Human Capital
Human resource professionals with a master’s degree in the field are prepared to apply for jobs in the workforce with titles such as:
- HR Manager
- HR Chief Director
- HR Business Partner
Professional Certification Options in Human Resources
Achieving human resources certifications is another way to further stand out as an excellent professional in the field. Certification exams can be taken through any of these organizations:
- 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)
- Certified Professional (IPMA-CP)
- Senior Certified Professional (IPMA-SCP)
Pennsylvania’s HR Associations, Government Employers and HR Staffing Firms
Professional human resources associations, major departments, and staffing firms are listed here as a resource for professionals in Pennsylvania:
Professional HR Associations in Pennsylvania
- Pennsylvania State Council of SHRM
- Pittsburgh Human Resource Association
- Southeastern Pennsylvania Society for Human Resource Management
- Greater Valley Forge Human Resource Association
Major HR Employers and Departments
Pennsylvania Staffing Firms
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.
Salary and employment data compiled by the United States Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics in May of 2018 for human resources managers, specialists, and assistants – https://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes_pa.htm#11-9111. The BLS salary data shown here represents median – 90th percentile salary ranges for the state and includes workers at all levels of education and experience. This data does not represent starting salaries.
Job growth projections sourced from the Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry and published in the U.S. Department of Labor-funded Long Term Occupational Projections (2016-2026) database – https://projectionscentral.com/Projections/LongTerm. Employment conditions in your area may vary.
All salary and job growth data accessed in October 2019.