The Beginners Guide to Human Resources Salaries

“Human resources” is a broad term that covers a lot of ground, which means there are many jobs within the human resources department. With everything from HR director to recruiter and everything in between, there are plenty of different opportunities and different levels within this field.

Before you determine whether HR is right for you, you’ll want to know the salaries that go along with jobs in this field. They vary greatly depending on the position and your experience. This guide provides you with the essential information you need to know about HR salaries, so you can decide whether a move into HR is right for you.

What Can I Expect With Human Resources Salaries?

Because the human resources department has its finger on the pulse of employee salaries, people currently in or looking to go into this field must know how to negotiate for a competitive salary. Thus, you need to have a good idea of what someone in your desired position makes to leverage that information.

One key thing to note is that what you get paid as a human resources professional depends significantly on the position you hold under the umbrella of HR. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, HR specialists make an average of around $59,000 a year, and HR managers pull in, on average, $107,000 a year. That’s a big difference.

Several things play a role in your salary as an HR professional – not just your position in the HR hierarchy.

The Basics of Human Resources Salaries

Human resources salaries cover a very wide range. While the position you choose in HR helps determine your salary, the company size and the job function are also pieces of the salary puzzle.

Company Size

It should not surprise you that companies in the beginning stages may not offer salaries as competitive as more well-established ones. A recent BLS study showed that generally speaking, an hourly employee who works at a company with 500 or more employees makes almost twice as much as an employee who works at a company with 50 or fewer employees. That is a pretty marked difference. However, those statistics are not for a specific job in a particular industry–they represent the general labor statistics. Human resources is a different story.

In HR, small companies follow the same trend of paying less than larger companies. However, the difference between the pay for an HR position in smaller companies versus larger companies is not nearly as drastic as the general labor numbers.

The average annual salary for HR professionals in a company with 0-100 employees is approximately $90,000. When you take the company size up one level to between 101 and 300 employees, the HR professional salary bumps up to around $100,000.

With that pattern, you would expect the salary for an HR professional in a large company — 301 to 500 employees – to increase another $10,000, but in fact, it drops down to around $98,000. Then, once the company size reaches 500-750 employees, you’re looking at an annual salary of around $102,000. Any company size larger than 750 drops down to nearly the same salary as a company with 0-50 employees.

These are just overall averages, but HR professionals should look at companies with under 50 employees or more than 750 employees for the optimal salary.

However, if you are looking to be an HR manager or director, you earn more as the company gets bigger. So if that’s the job you’re after, take your job hunt to larger companies.

Position

It is no surprise that the specific position you hold in HR plays a major role in determining your salary–that is true across the board for any industry. The more prestigious your position and your title, the more responsibility you have and the higher pay you get.

Namely’s annual HR Careers Report from 2019 looked at the trends in HR salaries and determined the most popular HR job positions. Here is what they found each of those jobs’ average salaries to be.

  1. Recruiting Coordinator. This position only requires one to three years of experience. As a coordinator, you find, screen, and hire new talent for the company. The average salary of a recruiting coordinator is $60,158.
  2. HR Assistant. This position requires two years of experience and involves being a part of all HR initiatives. As an assistant, you make sure goals are being met and take care of administrative tasks. The average salary of an HR assistant is $40,853.
  3. HR Coordinator. You can land this job with two to three years of experience and the ability to be on the ground with employees and the HR team. Your job is to respond to employee questions, lead orientations, and make sure HR policies and procedures are understood. The average salary of an HR coordinator is $49,579.
  4. HR Specialist. This position requires at least three years of experience and has you serving as the specialist in a specific area of HR, such as payroll or onboarding. The average salary of an HR specialist is $52,760.
  5. HR Generalist. This position requires three to five years of experience and is the one to go to with any questions and concerns about anything related to HR. The average salary of an HR generalist is $64,790.
  6. HR Manager. With five or more years of experience, this position oversees direct reports, relationships across departments, and implements business strategies, plus more. The average salary of an HR manager is $81,762.
  7. Recruiting Manager. This position requires more experience, about five to seven years, and oversees the recruiting team. Managers define hiring priorities and measure the success of the team. The average salary of a recruiting manager is $109,627.
  8. HR Director. This position requires at least seven years of experience and is in charge of the HR team. The director drives strategy, initiatives, and oversees all aspects of HR. The average salary for an HR director is between $109,181 and $138,929.
  9. Vice President of HR. This position requires at least 10 years of experience and is either the person or the second person from the top of a large HR team. They ensure that the HR team is on track with its goals and ensures that it is compliant. The average salary for a vice president of HR is $149,472.
  10. Chief Human Resources Officer (CHRO). This position requires at least 15 years of experience, as they are the face of the HR team when it comes to executives and stakeholders. They support both the HR team as well as senior leadership. The average salary of a CHRO is at least $195,000.

As you can see, the higher you go, the more money you make. However, one interesting thing found in the study is that HR coordinators make less money than recruiting coordinators, even though HR coordinators have more than twice the experience.

It may be because recruiting is a very fast-paced position in high demand, and that demand is reflected in the higher pay.

3 Ways to Raise Your Human Resources Salary

Though the above is a great starting place for you to understand what different roles in HR will bring you in terms of compensation on average, that does not mean you can’t make more. There are certainly ways to increase your current or future HR salary. Here are three ways you can position yourself for a higher salary.

Certifications

One of the best ways to get paid more for your HR position is to get a certification. The HR Certification Institute is the top choice for getting the credentials you need to take your job to the next level. With a certification from HRCI in hand, you show your employer that you have taken steps to strengthen your knowledge and your skillset in HR, and show the employees you work with they can trust you to do the best job for them.

Whether you are just starting in HR and looking to get a certification or are more advanced and hoping to increase your salary and potentially your job title, there is a certification for you through HRCI. Here are the various certifications they offer:

Associate Professional in Human Resources. This is intended for HR professionals who are new to the scene and looking to get a head start.

Associate Professional in Human Resources – International. This is intended for HR professionals outside of the United States who are new to the scene and looking to get a head start.

Professional in Human Resources. This one is to establish yourself in the field of HR.

Professional in Human Resources – California. This certification shows that you understand the laws, regulations, and HR practices that are specific to the state of California.

Professional in Human Resources – International. This shows that you understand general technical and operational HR principles, regardless of where you are in the world.

Senior Professional in Human Resources. This is to establish yourself as a leader in the field of HR.

Senior Professional in Human Resources – International. This is to establish yourself as a leader in HR, no matter where you are in the world.

Global Professional in Human Resources. This is for those who have HR job responsibilities around the world. This certification shows that you are well-versed in multinational HR.

Degrees

Though no specific degree is required to become an HR manager, it is suggested that you do get a specialized HR degree to be a more competitive candidate. Specific degrees that may help boost your salary include:

  • Human Resources
  • Business Administration
  • Management
  • Economics
  • Finance
  • Marketing

Not only will a degree increase your chances of getting a job in the HR field, but it will also increase your chances of a higher salary.

Though a master’s degree is rare in the field of HR, it is something you may want to consider, especially if you’re looking toward one of the advanced careers in human resources. A masters-level education in HR will set you apart from other candidates and will equip you with what you need to reach the top of the HR ladder.

Industries

If you are looking to ramp up your HR salary, you may want to reconsider the industry that you’re working in or looking to work in. Though every industry needs an HR department with different HR positions, there is often a difference in salaries for various industries.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the top-paying industry for HR managers in the United States is central banking. They average around $185,000 per year. However, jobs in that industry are quite limited. According to the BLS records, only 50 HR managers are working in central banks. You can either opt to set your sights high and work to get there or consider some other high-paying industries.

The finance industry is another area that pays its HR managers well, so look at job opportunities at small financial institutions and investment banks. The average annual salary for HR managers in the finance industry is around $170,000. Cable telecommunications is another field to consider, as well as computer equipment manufacturing. These are known to pay well and have more job opportunities.

3 Tricks for Human Resources Salaries

Here are some additional tips and tricks that can help you improve and get paid more without going back to school or switching industries.

Ask

Want to make more money in your HR position? Ask for it.

You may be surprised how few people think to simply ask for a raise and show proof why they deserve one. This is one of the most effective ways to get a raise in any field or job.

Before scheduling a meeting with your boss and asking, you need to do research and produce data. Create a case study for your manager that shows some hard numbers on the work that you’ve done, your accomplishments, and more. For example, you should be able to definitively show that you’ve surpassed your goals, streamlined processes, or exceeded quotas. You may also be able to prove you are underpaid by market standards.

This will show the manager that you are worth more money and will also show him or her what the company stands to gain due to paying you more.

Take on More Responsibility

Maybe you’ve been playing it safe in your job, and it’s time to step it up. You can’t expect a raise for no reason, so give your company a reason to pay you more. Take on a bigger project, take on more responsibility–just do more.

Don’t just make up a project. If you aren’t sure where to start, ask your supervisor for ideas or assignments. This shows them you are looking to take on more and can handle additional responsibilities.

Consider the Benefits

Often, people only look at the dollar amount of their salary and don’t consider other non-monetary benefits of their job. By looking at these benefits, you may feel happier with your current salary.

Some of these benefits include:

  • Matched 401(k) contributions
  • Flexible working hours
  • Skills development
  • Employee clubs
  • Gym membership discounts
  • Fully subsidized health insurance
  • Help with childcare costs
  • Coverage of certification or training costs
  • Coverage of conference costs
  • Help with transportation costs
  • Vacation
  • Other paid time off
  • Subsidized food
  • Remote work opportunities

If your company provides significant non-salary benefits that save you a lot of money, you may actually lose out on some money when taking a job at another company with a higher salary but poor benefits. For example, perhaps your current employer covers childcare costs and heavily subsidizes your health insurance. Maybe you switch jobs, and your new employer gives you a $10,000 raise but doesn’t cover those costs. If you do the math and end up spending over $10,000 per year on daycare and insurance, you will have actually gone down in overall compensation and available money.

This is just another piece of the overall puzzle to consider.

What to Do Next

To get the best HR salary possible, there are some questions you want to answer about yourself.

  1. What is my earning potential? Learn the different opportunities available with your position or desired position, along with your education and years of experience.
  2. Is there a demand for this job? Generally speaking, HR professionals are more in demand than any other profession. Thus, chances are good there is a high demand for your job, but you want to do some research to be sure.
  3. What is my competition? Know what you are up against in terms of education, certification, experience, and more for the job you want. Understanding the competition helps you find ways to improve your chances.

Once you have the answers to these questions, you can better determine what salary you should be going after. Whether you are considering a job in HR or are currently working in the field of HR, you always want to be sure that you are getting the highest salary you can.

While you are focusing on improving your salary, make sure you don’t forget about your team. Keeping your employees happy is integral to getting you a higher salary. To help ensure your team is working hard and happy, check out these tips on pushing your team to its limits while still keeping everyone happy.

To help you do this, consider implementing employee monitoring software to keep track of their time and productivity. Here are the top employee monitoring software options to help you do just that.

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