Bachelors and Masters Programs for a Human Resources Management Career in South Dakota

South Dakota’s job market continues to gain ground even as an influx of job seekers has increased the state’s population by nearly 10,000 people between 2018 and 2019. As even more people come to work in the oil fields and in the businesses that serve this growing workforce, HR specialists are scrambling to fill vacancies especially in the major metro areas of Sioux Falls and Rapid City.

In fact, according to South Dakota’s Department of Labor and Regulation, 15 out of the 22 tracked industry sectors in the state are forecast to add jobs at faster than the state average by 2026, with healthcare practitioners and technical occupations leading the way. Corporations like 3M and Citibank are some of the largest private employers, but private corporations aren’t the only ones vying for talent. Among South Dakota’s top employers are military installations including Ellsworth Air Force Base.

With such an aggressive job market, staffing human resource positions becomes a requirement for any organization looking to build and develop a qualified workforce. Those positions are expected to grow at the following rates between 2016 and 2026:

HR Management Roles

  • Compensation and Benefits Managers8 percent increase for an average of 50 openings per year
  • Human Resources Managers3 percent increase for an average of 20 openings per year
  • Training and Development Managers: No change

Non-managerial HR Roles

  • Human Resources Specialists9 percent increase for an average of 110 openings per year
  • Training and Development Specialists8 percent increase for an average of 60 openings per year
  • Human Resources Assistants: Expect an average of 30 openings per year, making $46,710 in the top ten percent

Job Descriptions for HR Professions with Some of South Dakota’s Top Employers

South Dakota’s recent job growth suggests that major employers and governmental agencies will need to hire quality HR professionals capable of recruiting, screening, hiring, training, and manning their ever-growing labor force.

From HR recruiting and training specialists, to payroll and benefits administrators, to HR managers and directors, South Dakota’s top employers rely heavily on their internal HR department. The following job openings serve as an example of the types of jobs available and the required day-to day duties for each HR position (shown for illustrative purposes only):

HR Generalist – Green Tree – Rapid City

  • Manage talent acquisition
  • Handle employee engagement and training
  • Implement staff development
  • Provide expertise in business knowledge to execute workforce strategies and methods in alignment with goals and best practices
  • Mentor and coach managers and supervisory staff regarding handling of sensitive workforce issues
  • Help resolve complex HR issues across departments

HR Manager II- Regal-Beloit – Aberdeen

  • Manage all HR functions for large unionized manufacturing facility
  • Manage compliance, salaries, employee relations, recruiting and training
  • Act as team leader and collaborate across departments
  • Supervise subordinates

Human Resources Department Supervisor for Toys R Us – Rapid City

  • Work with other managers in staffing selection
  • Source and screen interview candidates
  • Schedule and employ regular recruiting in order to maintain each store’s staffing levels
  • On-boarding orientation for all new staff members
  • Ensure tax compliance for new hires
  • Assign and maintain company software access
  • HRIS System maintenance
  • Coordinate all store activities
  • Monitor employee compliance and satisfaction surveys
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Earning the Right Degree for a Career in Human Resources

Even in a robust job market, companies are very selective when hiring qualified personnel to operate their HR departments. Employers typically look for candidates with a bachelor’s degree or a master’s degree, and often an added professional HR certification. Required education and credentials depend largely on a position’s level of management authority.

Bachelor’s Degree Options

Available through various institutions throughout the state as well as online, a BBA (Bachelor of Business Administration) or BS/BA in human resource management is foundational to most lower-to-mid-level HR management positions.

BA or BS with a major in Human Resource Management – These undergraduate degrees provide students with skills in areas fundamental to HR management. Programs typically cover 120 credits of coursework, including 36 in the major; 41 in general education; and 43 in electives. These programs will prepare the student with the following types of courses:

  • Human Resources Management
  • Accounting
  • Finance
  • Law
  • Ethics
  • Budgets
  • Employee Relations

Bachelor of Business Administration with an emphasis in HR Management – With credit requirements similar to those of a BS/BA program, the HR BBA focuses more on broad business management skills related to business information systems and budget development in the context of HR management.

The core classes are often divided into three primary subjects: business, office management and human resource.

BBA programs may include the following types of courses:

  • Algebra
  • Natural Science
  • Economics
  • Principals of Accounting
  • Business Finance
  • Statistics
  • Labor and Management Relations
  • HR Management
  • Managerial Finance

Master’s Degree Options

When a professional continues to the graduate level (MA, MS, MBA, or MPA) they will often choose a program in business administration with a concentration in HR management. Examples include:

  • 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

One of the more popular options, the Master of Business Administration with a concentration in Human Resource Management (MBA) prepares HR professionals to work in a business leadership position within the corporate environment. These programs provide the higher level leadership skills expected of managers and directors.

Coursework often includes:

  • Management
  • Human Capital
  • HR Law
  • Business Law
  • Economics
  • Accounting
  • Statistics and research
  • Corporate Finance
  • Marketing Techniques

Human Resources Professional Certification

Both employers and prospective employees can recognize the advantages of voluntarily seeking additional HR certification. Some of the most widely recognized certifications include:

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)

Additional Resources for Current and Aspiring HR Professionals

Professional organizations, local chapters of certifying bodies, and HR staffing firms round out the resources available:

Professional Organizations

  • The Bureau of Human Resources
  • South Dakota Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM)- a resource and advocate for both employers and HR professionals.
  • The Weston Group– Provides tools and training for HR compliance — located in Sioux Falls, SD.

South Dakota HR Staffing Firms


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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 South Dakota Department of Labor & Regulation 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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