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You may have noticed on certain career pages our new MyMajors Grad Cap based on the Education Requirement Classification System.  These averages are compiled from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. I have been working in the education industry since 2008 and assist students, counselors, colleges and parents with their college and career planning! Subscribe to receive periodic updates about new posts by email, or follow us via Twitter or RSS. You'll get the best content from The New Talent Times and leading insights on HR management from around the web—delivered straight to your inbox. To help current and aspiring professionals seeking HR positions better understand the job market and how to ascend in their careers, Software Advice set out to learn what the ideal candidate looks like straight from the source: the job posting.
Professional in Human Resources (PHR) and Senior Professional in Human Resources (SPHR) certifications are by far the most desired.
Annual compensation for HR jobs is $60,000—well above the national average for all occupations.
In order to research how candidates can climb the HR ladder, we combed through 300 job listings returned when searching for “HR manager.” Unsurprisingly, this title was the most common in our data set (although our search also returned jobs for various levels of HR professional). Much has been written recently regarding how the role of HR is changing to become more business-focused, and it seems that companies are beginning to reflect this trend in their job titles.
In comparison, an HR manager is defined as someone who is “responsible for hiring new employees, supervising employee evaluations, mediation between employees and bosses as necessary and general overseeing of the personnel department.” The HRBP, as compared to the more traditional HR Manager title, is therefore much more focused on business strategy. An awareness of how HR fits into the larger business processes of organizations is becoming increasingly requested from employers—and this trend is reflected in other areas of this report, as well, such as preferred areas of study and requested certifications. As is the case for most white-collar jobs, a bachelor’s degree was needed in order to be considered for the majority of the HR jobs analyzed in this study (85 percent). However, it should be noted that 11 percent of job listings did not specify that any minimum education was required to apply. Although 11 percent of the job listings analyzed in this study did not specify that any degree was required, some job titles were more likely to require a four-year college degree than others. In addition to analyzing what level of education was required, we also wanted to see what level of education was preferred. Of the job listings that did require an undergraduate degree, many specified a preferred area of study. This aligns with our previous research into the educational backgrounds of the 100 most successful HR professionals in the world. In addition to a bachelor’s degree, HR certifications were an additional credential required or preferred by many employers. However, while 58 percent of job listings did not require a certification, certain job titles were more likely to request or prefer some type of certification.
Of the job listings that either preferred or required some form of HR certification, Professional in Human Resources (PHR) or Senior Professional in Human Resources (SPHR) certifications were the most frequently mentioned.
Interestingly, a Six Sigma certification, which is not exclusive to the HR profession, also appeared several times in the preferred qualifications—for the “HR Manager” title specifically. Six Sigma professionals are trained to employ techniques—such as quality management and statistical analysis—to improve business processes.
Meanwhile, approximately one-fourth of employers specified that they would prefer applicants with knowledge of some form of Human Resources Information Systems (HRIS) software knowledge.
As you can see, when employers specified a certain type of HRIS system, they most often requested that applicants have a working knowledge of Peoplesoft, ADP, SAP or Oracle. Although only one-fourth of employers requested that applicants have HR software-related knowledge, for potential applicants to human resources jobs, an awareness of the most popular HRIS software programs would be a plus for many employers.
As is the case for across most white-collar professional, salaried occupations, applicants will need at least a few years of experience to be considered for an upper-level HR department role at most companies. As is to be expected, more senior-level roles—such as HR Director and Senior HR Manager—required more experience. Surprisingly, very few postings provided any information regarding a candidate’s potential salary. However, when we analyzed the salaries in postings that did provide compensation information, we found that $60,000-69,999 was the median projected income of potential applicants to these jobs. While this salary is higher than the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ calculated median annual wage for all occupations of $34,750, it is significantly lower that the BLS’s projected median annual wage for HR professionals: $99,720. Software Advice is the leading provider of detailed reviews, comparisons, and research for software buyers.
According to the the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), sales directors earned a median annual wage of $105,260 in 2012—nearly twice the national average of $45,790.
To help potential applicants better understand how to land one of these lucrative positions and what qualifications employers seek in particular, Software Advice conducted an analysis of 200 sales director job listings. A majority of employers (67 percent) prefer or require candidates to have a higher education degree; primarily in the areas of business or marketing.



Sixty-two percent of employers want candidates with five to six years sales experience, preferably within the same industry as the hiring firm.
Nearly one-third of employers require specific technical skills, with customer relationship management (CRM) software cited as the most preferred skillset. A majority of employers in our sample wanted candidates with a higher education: 33 percent of listings specifically required a bachelor's degree. According to Erik Bowitz, senior resume expert at Resume Genius, the absence of an educational requirement suggests some employers place a greater preference on professional experience. However, Bowitz points out that a degree still has merit, as it often allows candidates to negotiate a higher starting salary than those without a degree. If you’re seeking a career path that leads to a sales director role and are wondering which field to focus your education in, there are two you should keep in mind. Perhaps more important than a candidate’s education, however, is the amount of previous experience he or she has.
Further reinforcing Wong’s comments on the importance of industry experience, we found that 72 percent of employers in our sample cited industry-specific sales experience as necessary for the position.
While a talented salesmen can make the transition from one industry to the next, Wong emphasizes the importance of knowing a particular industry’s unique terminology in order to be successful in a sales director role. Second to industry experience, just over half of employers (55 percent) wanted candidates with prior management experience—somewhat surprising, given the management-heavy responsibilities of a sales director role.
According to Jessica Magoch, VP of sales at JPM Partners, this may be an omission by the human resources (HR) employee in charge of writing the job posting, rather than indicative of employer preferences. When we drilled deeper into the data, we found that, among those positions listing a preference for certain technical skills, CRM software appeared in every single one.
However, Bowitz also notes that many sales director candidates have likely been in sales for years, before reliance on technological solutions became as commonplace as it is today. As Wong explains, “Being able to use and demonstrate technology is important, especially if you're selling software or services, but one doesn't need to be an expert. Another important factor for potential sales director candidates we uncovered is job location. While our sample is not necessarily indicative of the entire job market, our findings suggest that relocation may be necessary for candidates who live in less densely populated states, as there may be far fewer available opportunities to select from.
While a degree in business or marketing may help you earn a higher salary in a sales director role, our analysis found the most important aspect for this position is several years of relevant sales experience.
This report was compiled from an analysis of 200 sales director job listings, which were pulled from top online job boards, including Indeed, Glassdoor and LinkedIn across all 50 states. Completion of this degree usually requires 1 or 2 years of full-time academic study beyond a bachelor’s degree. Completion of this degree generally requires at least 4 years, but not more than 5 years, of full-time academic study beyond high school. Completion of this degree usually requires at least 2 years but not more than 4 years of full-time academic study beyond high school. This category signifies the achievement of a high school diploma or equivalent plus the completion of one or more post-secondary courses that did not result in a degree or award.
This category signifies the completion of high school or an equivalent program resulting in the award of a high school diploma or an equivalent, such as the General Educational Development (GED) credential. This category signifies the completion of any level of primary or secondary education that did not result in the award of a high school diploma or equivalent.
Bureau of Labor Statistics, the number of human resources (HR) manager positions is set to grow 13 percent by 2022, while HR specialist positions are projected to grow 8 percent. Given that large companies like Google no longer require an undergraduate degree, this may be a sign that the trend towards experience and skills over a four-year education is spreading to the HR profession. HR specialists—the most entry-level position included in the analysis—were the least likely to require a four-year degree, with one-third of HR specialist job postings requiring only a high school diploma. While 67 percent of the listings included in this analysis did not specify any level of preferred education, almost one-third of the listings requested an advanced degree: either a master’s or a Master of Business Administration (MBA). Unsurprisingly, human resources was the top-requested undergraduate area of specialization, while business administration was the second most requested.
If you want to get ahead in the HR field—at any level of responsibility—a strong grasp of HR and business will go a long way.
In fact, 42 percent of companies noted that an HR certification was either preferred or required. For instance, HR professionals seeking a job as an HR business partner are much more likely to need an HR certification in order to obtain work. While only 1 percent of the job listings requested this credential, it is further indication that HR professionals are increasingly being expected to have a thorough knowledge of business processes outside of traditional areas of HR expertise, such as compensation and benefits management.
For over half of the job postings analyzed in this report, employers requested at least 3-5 years of experience.


The title requiring the most years of experience was Senior HR Business Partner, with a minimum requirement of 6 years of experience.
Only 24 listings, or 8 percent of the job postings included in this analysis, included salary information.
The only postings we found offering a wage of around $100,000 were for HR Director and HR Generalist positions. Along with an enticing salary, the job outlook for sales directors is also promising: employment is projected to grow 8 percent from 2012 to 2022. Among the job listings in our sample, a business degree was most preferred (42 percent), followed by a degree in marketing (23 percent).
Of the jobs in our sample, 85 percent required three or more years of professional experience, while 62 percent required five or more years of actual sales experience.
The graphic below depicts the most frequently used words in this section, which included sales (579 mentions), experience (531 mentions), skills (353 mentions) and ability (311 mentions). Indeed, 29 percent of employers in our sample mandated CRM experience, while 8 percent listed a knowledge of sales force automation (SFA) software as a preference for landing the role of sales director. SFA came in at a distant second, appearing in 27 percent of job posts that listed a technical skills preference. This may explain why only around a third of postings listed a preference for technical skills. Not all that surprisingly, the job listings in our sample were concentrated around areas in the U.S. Applicants should thus consider expanding their job search nationwide, as some employers will pay for relocation costs for the right candidate. As such, candidates may want to prioritize gaining on-the-job sales and management experience over an advanced degree.
Search terms used included: Director of Sales, Sales Director, Regional Director of Sales, National Sales Director, Director of Inside Sales and Senior Sales Director. Completion of a professional degree usually requires at least 3 years of full- time academic study beyond a bachelor’s degree.
Examples of occupations in this category include statisticians, physician assistants, and educational, vocational, and school counselors. Examples of occupations in this category include budget analysts, dietitians, and civil engineers.
Examples of occupations in this category include mechanical drafters, respiratory therapists, and dental hygienists.
The certificate is awarded by the educational institution and is the result of completing formal post-secondary schooling. Examples of occupations in this category include social and human service assistants and pharmacy technicians. Examples of occupations in this category include janitors and cleaners, cashiers, and carpet installers.
Here, we reveal which titles are most popular, which have the highest barriers to entry and what will be required of potential applicants to land their dream job in this growing field. On the other hand, the HR specialist and employment manager positions in our analysis did not require or request any type of certification. Meanwhile, HR Specialist and HR Generalist roles were more likely to require fewer years of experience. She focuses on the HR market, offering advice to industry professionals on the best recruiting, talent management, and leadership techniques.
This is not surprising, given that a sales director by nature will be tasked with leading a sales team.
This visual further highlights the importance of experience for this role, as discussed earlier in this report.
Examples of occupations for which a professional degree is the typical form of entry-level education include lawyers, physicians and surgeons, and dentists. Certification, which is issued by a professional organization or certifying body, is not included here. The greatest concentration of jobs were located in California (20 percent), Texas (10 percent) and New York (10 percent), while few to no job listings in our sample were from the midwest and northwest regions, with the exception of Illinois; home to the populous city of Chicago. Some post-secondary nondegree award programs last only a few weeks, while others may last 1 to 2 years. Examples of occupations in this category include nursing aides, emergency medical technicians (EMTs) and paramedics, and hairstylists.




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