A Look at HR Salaries

Are you curious about your income potential in a variety of human resources careers? Have you thought about earning a Master of Business Administration (MBA) in Human Resources (HR) Management? Earning an online MBA in HR management from a reputable school like Fitchburg State University can prepare graduates to move from a generalist or specialist role into supervisory, directorial and senior-level management roles. It helps to understand the education and skills needed, the levels of responsibility and the income potential for each of your career options.

In general, most six figure salaries in HR are at the managerial level. A master’s degree is becoming a common educational requirement for positions at this level, where there are many leadership opportunities.

Human Resources Specialist

HR specialists support a variety of HR employee programs within an organization. Some of their functions in the area of benefits include calculating fringe benefit allowances, ensuring COBRA guideline compliance and coordinating enrollments. They may also maintain personnel files, keep employee records up to date, process personnel action forms and keep the employee handbook current. Further specialized HR roles can focus on targeted HR processes like recruiting, talent acquisition, hiring, pre-employment screening, training, professional development and succession planning.

The required minimum level of education is wide-ranging, depending on the position. But, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), most HR specialist roles require at least a bachelor’s degree and some industry experience. A master’s degree can give a candidate an edge in competitive markets, especially when pursuing high-level roles.

BLS reports that the 2021 median pay for HR specialists was $62,290 per year. Projected job growth between 2021and 2031 is 8%.

Human Resources Generalist

HR generalists tend to focus on broader aspects of HR management than specialists. They perform duties in the areas of employee relations, training, performance management, policy implementation, recruitment, employment, affirmative action and employment law compliance.

Many of the essential functions at this level are administrative. Generalists may administer personnel policies, compensation programs or benefits. They may also be involved in developing and maintaining HR information systems, programs, record keeping and regular reporting while helping with departmental objectives like diversity, equity and inclusion efforts. In addition, generalists handle a variety of other key HR functions including new employee orientations and onboarding, employee relations counseling and benefits claims.

The required level of education for a generalist role is typically a bachelor’s degree. Although, as with specialist positions, professionals may earn a master’s degree like an MBA in HR management to increase their HR generalist job prospects and income potential.

The BLS does not provide salary data for HR generalists. According to ZipRecruiter, as of August 2022, the median salary for an HR generalist is $57,416.

Human Resources Manager

HR managers are directly responsible for the overall administration, coordination and evaluation of HR functions. Managers oversee teams of generalists and specialists while performing a variety of other managerial duties. They also function as a bridge between employees and various levels of management, often consulting management on HR issues and helping with strategic planning in an advisory capacity.

In larger organizations, managerial roles tend to be more specialized, whereas HR managers at smaller firms often have broader responsibilities. These include developing the personnel plans, controlling all activities of the HR department, updating the compensation program, developing personnel policies and procedures, overseeing recruitment efforts and ensuring compliance with employment laws.

While the required level of education for some managerial positions is a bachelor’s degree plus appropriate HR work experience, many jobs require a master’s degree in HR management.

According to BLS, the 2021 median pay for HR managers was $126,230 per year. Projected job growth between 2021 and 2031 is 7%.

Specialized managerial roles in HR also command substantial compensation. For example, ZipRecruiter provides median salary data for the following managerial roles as of August 2022:

Clearly, people who dedicate their lives to the profession of HR have many rewarding career paths to choose from, and they can take their skills to human resources departments in virtually any industry. For those who want a fulfilling and potentially lucrative career with employment opportunities that tend to remain stable through shifting economic conditions, earning an MBA in HR can be a wise investment.

Learn more about Fitchburg State University’s online MBA in HR Management program.

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