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

In 2019, the US Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that Wisconsin’s labor force was comprised of just over 3.1 million people, with the state’s trade, transportation, and utilities and manufacturing sectors being among the biggest employers, and the biggest contributors to job growth. Specialty manufacturing businesses are also cropping up, with companies like Mob Craft Beer Brewery in Milwaukee and Deep Freeze Fishing Products in Sauk Prairie emerging as significant drivers of economic growth in the state. Tech companies like Exact Sciences in Madison also continue to add jobs in Wisconsin.

The combination of well-established companies and emerging business in a strengthening economy has brought the unemployment rate in Wisconsin down to 3.1 percent as of 2019, nearly the lowest it has been since the 2009 recession.

As well-established companies rebuild their labor force and emerging businesses look to recruit new talent, a premium is placed on the human resources professionals that vet new employees, promote development in the existing workforce and allocate talent enterprise-wide.

This demand for HR talent is reflected in strong job growth projections for several of the most high profile HR roles:

HR Management Roles

  • Compensation and Benefits Managers6 percent increase
  • Human Resources Managers: 13 percent increase for an average of 270 openings per year
  • Training and Development Managers3 percent increase

Non-managerial HR Roles

  • Compensation, Benefits, and Job Analysis Specialists5 percent increase for an average of 170 openings per year
  • Human Resources Specialists8 percent increase for an average of 1,210 openings per year
  • Training and Development Specialists9 percent increase for an average of 730 openings per year
  • Labor Relations Specialists: Expect an average of 1,200 openings per year
  • Human Resources Assistants: Expect an average of 270 openings per year

The leading employers in Wisconsin still remain some of the longtime powerhouses, including Menards Home Improvement and Kohls, as well as healthcare conglomerates, Thedacare and River Woods.

The top ten employers in the state also tend to be those that create the most demand for skilled training and development specialists, benefits managers, labor relations specialists and HR managers:

  • University of Wisconsin, Madison – 16,000 employees
  • Menards – 10,000 employees
  • Epic Systems – 9,700 employees
  • Thedacare – 6,000 employees
  • Kohl’s Corporation – 5,500 employees
  • General Mitchell International Airport – 5,000 employees
  • River Woods Urgent Care – 5,000 employees
  • Rockwell Automation – 5,000 employees
  • University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee – 5,000
  • Froedtert Hospital – 4,506
Sponsored Content

Job Descriptions for Human Resources Professionals

Businesses are hiring all over Wisconsin, placing an increased demand on the human resources professionals responsible for recruiting, screening, hiring, training, and managing an ever-growing labor force.

A review of job descriptions provides a deeper understanding of the duties employers might expect from HR professionals in a variety of roles (Shown for illustrative purposes only):

Human Resource Manager with Land-O-Lakes – Madison

  • Recruit and staff all departments
  • Performance management
  • Implementing and managing improvement systems
  • Organizational development
  • Address regulatory concerns
  • Manage employee orientation, staff development, and training
  • Oversee employee and management relations
  • Facilitate company committees
  • Administration of payroll, compensation and benefits
  • Oversee employee welfare health, safety, and wellness

Human Resource Generalist with Festival Foods – Marshfield

  • Manage employee relation issues
  • Partner with leadership teams to create, maintain and execute staffing needs in stores
  • Manage orientation and on-boarding for new store associates
  • Ensure development of programs and initiatives for all new associates
  • Coach/train leaders on legal compliance
  • Assist with communication programs within stores
  • Submit documents to appropriate HR specialty in support offices
  • Coordinate store uniform supply/laundering program
  • Participate in safety meetings
  • Analyze turnover and drive improvement
  • Coach leaders and writing performance evaluations

Director of Human Resources with Aurora Health Care – Milwaukee

  • Develop and administers human resources policies
  • Develop and administers procedures and programs
  • Serve on cross-regional HR teams to develop system programs and policies
  • Oversees employee relation issues with management and/or other employees
  • Participate in counseling, conflict management, problem resolution, and performance and disciplinary issues
  • Handle grievance procedures, career counseling
  • Manage staffing and manpower planning
  • Administrate employee benefit program
  • Assist with benefit conversion assignments
  • Direct the administration of compensation programs
  • Provide guidance and education on policies and procedures
  • Administer unemployment compensation investigating and unemployment claims maintain records and reporting systems
  • Provide assistance in gathering and analyzing information for defense against discrimination in lawsuits

The Right Degree for a Career in Human Resources

Top HR professionals know how to procure, train, and maintain the best talent for their employers, making them invaluable team players. Business leaders with strong HR managers know they can rest easy while their HR teams create a staffing pool of qualified personnel able to accomplish company goals.

While a bachelor’s degree is appropriate for most HR specialist, generalist and lower-to-mid-level management positions, if the ultimate goal is to reach a senior level of leadership, a master’s degree or specialized MBA in human resource management is most often required.

A few examples of the types of undergraduate degrees available online and through campus-based and blended programs in Wisconsin include:

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

Options for graduate study include:

  • 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

Greater detail on a few of the more popular bachelor’s and master’s programs is shown here:

BS in Business Administration with a Concentration in Human Resources

This program allows the student an in-depth view into the inner-workings of business. It prepares the HR candidate to become a highly-effective manager when running an HR team in a business setting. The focus on accounting, sales and marketing affords the student a greater breadth of business knowledge.

A standard course list for BS programs in business administration with a concentration in human resources include:

  • Investments and Accounting
  • Human Resource Management
  • Employment Law
  • How to Attract, Select, and Retain Talent
  • Compensation Management
  • Power and Influence
  • The Art of Negotiation
  • Retail Management
  • Leadership

Master of Business Administration (MBA) in Human Resource Management

This degree program is ideal for the candidate who prefers to work in a business-driven environment. It is designed to provide the level of knowledge expected of senior managers, directors, and enterprise executives:

Coursework in an MBA in Human Resource Management would typically include:

  • Orientation for Success
  • Organizational Behavior
  • Management Marketing Decisions
  • Data Driven Decision Making Strategies
  • Applying Strategies for managers
  • Information Systems
  • Financial Management
  • Accounting
  • Marketing
  • International Business
  • Business Intelligence
  • Process Improvement
  • Supply Chain Management

Masters in Human Resources and Labor Relations (MHRLR)

This specialized program provides an interdisciplinary education in areas of HR management and labor relations.

Courses common to an MHRLR program would include:

  • Compensation
  • Benefits
  • Conflict resolution
  • Recruiting
  • Management Styles and Diversity
  • Concepts in Training
  • Health, Welfare, and Safety Training
  • Human Resources Management
  • Equal Opportunity Employment
  • Collective Bargaining

Professional Certification

Voluntary certification is ideal for the HR leader looking to set themselves apart as experts in the field. The best recognized HR certifying bodies include:

Society of Human Resource Management (SHRM)

  • SHRM-CP (certified professional)
  • SHRM-SCP (senior certified professional)

The Wisconsin Council Of SHRM offers test prep materials for both SHRM and HRCI designations.

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)

Wisconsin’s HR Resources and Staffing Firms

Wisconsin’s state government agencies dedicated to workforce development, as well as local HR staffing firms provide additional resources for aspiring and advancing HR professionals.

General Resources

HR Staffing Firms


Sponsored Content

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 Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development 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.

Back to Top