It’s no surprise that human resource professionals find opportunities in Utah’s bustling economy, since, as of August 2019, Utah had one of the lowest unemployment rates in the nation at just 2.8 percent.
Utah’s economic strength has been so impressive, in fact, that in 2019, Forbes ranked Utah as number two on the “Best States for Business” report.
This strong workforce inherently reflects the need for top-notch human resource professionals, since they are the ones responsible for recruiting, interviewing, hiring, developing, and training the new employees that power those numbers.
Human resource specialists in the Central Utah area receive an annual average salary of $70,620 per year, making West Central Utah the fifth-highest paying nonmetropolitan area in the entire nation for human resource specialists as of 2018, according to the U.S. Department of Labor.
Salary is driven in large part by demand, and demand in Utah for qualified human resources professionals is skyrocketing, blowing the U.S. average rate of growth out of the water in most categories. Accordingly, the Utah Department of Workforce Services estimates the following increases between 2016 and 2026:
HR Management Roles
- Compensation and Benefits Managers: 5 percent increase
- Human Resources Managers: 2 percent increase for an average of 140 openings per year
- Training and Development Managers: 5 percent increase
Non-managerial HR Roles
- Compensation, Benefits, and Job Analysis Specialists: 5 percent increase for an average of 60 openings per year
- Human Resources Specialists: 9 percent increase for an average of 820 openings per year
- Training and Development Specialists: 9 percent increase for an average of 700 openings per year
- Labor Relations Specialists: Expect an average of 30 openings per year
- Human Resources Assistants: 5 percent increase for an average of 110 openings per year
Utah’s top employers contribute to the staggering economic growth and increasing demand for human resource professionals. Some of Utah’s largest employers include, but are not limited to:
- Intermountain Health Care – 20,000+ employees
- University of Utah – 20,000+ employees
- Hill Air Force Base – 10,000-14,999 employees
- Granite School District – 7,000-9,000 employees
- Utah State University – 7,000-9,000 employees
- Zion First National Bank – 4,000-4,999 employees
What Utah’s Top Employers Look for When Hiring and Promoting HR Professionals
Although each business will have specific requirements for human resource professionals, job requirements from Utah’s top employers, including the federal government, state and local government, and private businesses, will give you some idea of the general qualification requirements for human resource professionals throughout the state.
Standards for Job Applicants in Federal Government Human Resource Careers
Hill Air Force Base is one of the largest employers in Utah, and human resource jobs at this base and other federal locations can be found through USA Jobs (shown for illustrative purposes only):
Human Resource Specialist (Employee Benefits) for Department of the Army in Draper – Applicants for GS-11 jobs such as these should hold a master’s degree and one year of specialized experience as a human resource specialist, or a PhD and no previous specialized experience.
Human Resource Specialist (Military) for Department of the Army in Draper – Applicants for this GS-09 position should hold either a bachelor’s degree in human resource management or human resources plus twenty-four months of specialized experience, or they should hold a master’s degree in human resources (or a related field).
Qualification Standards for State and Local Human Resource Careers
As one of the largest employers in the state, with over 20,000 employees, the State of Utah is a major contributor to the need for human resource professionals in the state. Human resource professionals may submit a job interest card, which will notify them of any job openings in the field of human resources (shown for illustrative purposes only):
Employee Relations/EEO Consultant for Salt Lake County – Qualified applicants should hold a bachelor’s degree in human resources, human resource management, or another related field, with at least two years of human resource experience. Advanced education may be substituted for fewer years of experience.
Professionals in this position are responsible for interpreting and relaying all policies on discrimination, retaliation, and harassment, as well as providing consulting on management, standards of conduct, and other human resource matters.
Human Resource Careers in the Private Sector
Job titles and requirements in the private sector help to show what Utah’s top employers are looking for in human resource professionals (shown for illustrative purposes only):
HR Specialist and Recruiting Manager for Kelly Services in Ogden – These types of positions typically require a bachelor’s degree in human resources (or a related field) and for applicants to have at least two years of work experience in the field in order to effectively manage compensation, benefits, training, organizational development, and staffing.
Benefits Generalist for Savage Companies in Midvale – This position requires a BA or BS in business administration, organizational behavior, human resources, human resource management, or a related field, and to have from three to five years of benefits administration experience.
HR Business Analyst for Intermountain Healthcare in Murray – Business analyst position job-seekers will benefit from having a bachelor’s degree in business management, human resources, finance, IT, or public administration. Such positions also typically require certain specialized HR experience, such as in benefits, employment, recruiting, or talent management.
Finding the Right Degree for a Career in Human Resource
Utah’s top employers are looking for human resource professionals at the top of their field—meaning professionals with academic distinction, such as a master’s degree and professional certification.
Most human resources programs offer some, if not all, courses online, making them more conducive to the schedule of working professionals.
Obtaining a Bachelor’s Degree in Human Resources
Students looking to earn a bachelor’s degree to enter the field of human resources have a wide range of degrees to choose from, including business management, human resource management, finance, public administration, and more.
Bachelor’s degrees designed specifically for careers in human resources include, but are not limited to:
- Bachelors in human resources (BA or BS)
- Bachelors in human resource management (BA or BS in HRM)
- Bachelor’s in business administration in human resources (BBA in human resources)
Obtaining a degree in human resources will prepare students for HR generalist roles that require competence in all facets of HR, from recruiting and onboarding to training and development. HR generalists generally work for small and midsize companies that might only employ one person to manage all HR functions.
However, obtaining a degree in a more specific field will prepare professionals to function in more specialized roles, such as recruiter, labor relations specialist, benefits specialist, and more.
All bachelor’s programs in human resources will include courses on the core human resource functions:
- Employee law
- Compensation and benefits
- Labor relations
- Training and development
Bachelor’s programs in business administration with a specialization in human resources will include additional business-centered coursework:
- Statistical techniques
- Business skills and environment
- Human resource management in a market economy
- Operations management
- Organizational behavior
- Business policy
- Employment law
- HR training and development
- Staffing organizations
- Employee benefits and compensation administration
- Negotiation and conflict management
With a bachelor’s degree in human resources, students will be prepared to enter the field in roles that include:
- HR Generalist
- Benefits Coordinator
- Compensation Analyst
Advancing to a Master’s Degree in Human Resources
Earning a master’s degree shows employers that human resource professionals are dedicated to excellence in the field and ready for the next step in their career. It’s also the primary way for anybody with a bachelor’s degree outside the field to transition to a career in HR management. Master’s degrees specifically related to human resources include, but are not limited to:
- Master of Business Administration in Human Resources (MBA)
- Master of Management in Human Resources (MAM)
- Master of Arts in Human Resources (MA)
Master’s in human resources degrees will focus on generating an in-depth understanding of human resource duties, including:
- Compensation, benefits, and performance
- Employee recruitment and selection
- Career development
- Labor relations
- Employment law
Master of Management degrees will feature courses that include:
- Diversity management
- Legal environment
- Career development and management
- Strategic management for the MAM
- Foundation of management theory
- Management information systems
MBA degrees will focus primarily on business-related courses like these, with HRM courses used to fill electives:
- Accounting and finance: managerial use and analysis
- Applied managerial statistics
- Leadership and organizational behavior
- Marketing management
- Managerial finance
- Business economics
Human resource professionals with master’s degrees are distinguished as experts in the field, and they are often prepared to enter roles such as human resources manager, director, and business partner.
Professional Human Resource Certification
Certification is a solid way to distinguish yourself in the field of human resources. There is a wide array of specialized certifications available based on education, experience and professional specialty:
- 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)
HR Resources, Staffing Firms, and Associations
Professional associations provide opportunities for human resource professionals to network within their area, learn about new trends in the field, and find professional development opportunities.
A few HR associations, major HR employers, and staffing firms in Utah include:
Utah HR Associations
Staffing Firms in Utah
- Nexeo– Orem
- Professional Recruiters– Salt Lake City
- PrincePerelson– Salt Lake City
- Synergy Staffing Partners– Salt Lake City
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 Utah Department of Workforce Services 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.