A Look at HR Salaries

Are you curious about your income potential in a variety of human resources careers? Have you thought about earning an MBA in human resources in order to move from a generalist or specialist 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 of the six figure salaries in human resources are at the managerial level. A master’s degree is the most common educational requirement for positions at this level, where there are many leadership positions.

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 also maintain personnel files, keep employee records up to date, process personnel action forms, maintain the employee handbook and assist in the hiring process.

The required minimum level of education is wide-ranging, depending on the many positions available. The lowest-level positions typically require a high school diploma and some industry experience, while the highest level of specialist positions require a master’s degree or advanced training and significant industry experience.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that the 2016 median pay for HR Specialists was $59,180 per year. Projected job growth between 2016 and 2026 is 7 percent.

Salary.com provides median salary data for the following specialist roles as of March 2018.

Job Title Salary
Benefits Administrator II (Intermediate Level) $56,445
Benefits Analyst II (Intermediate Level) $64,435
Communications Representative II (Intermediate Level) $64,913
Compensation Analyst II (Intermediate Level) $67,604

Human Resources Generalist

HR generalists tend to focus in broader aspects than specialists. They perform duties in the areas of benefits administration, 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 are also involved in developing and maintaining programs including departmental objectives and systems, recruiting and hiring of minorities, and human resource record keeping and reporting. 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 is a bachelor’s degree and three to five years of HR experience, or a master’s degree in HR management and two years of experience in the field.

The BLS does not provide salary data for HR Generalists. According to PayScale, as of March 2018, the median salary for an HR generalist is $51,639.

Salary.com provides median salary data for the following generalist roles, as of March 2018.

Human Resources Manager

HR managers are directly responsible for the overall administration, coordination and evaluation of human resource functions. Managers oversee teams of generalists and specialists, and perform a variety of managerial duties. In larger organizations, managerial roles tend to be more specialized, while HR managers in 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, combined with five years of HR experience, the preferred level of educational attainment is a master’s degree in human resource management.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the 2016 median pay for HR managers was $106,910 per year. Projected job growth between 2016 and 2026 is 9 percent.

Salary.com provides median salary data for the following managerial roles as of March 2018.

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 lucrative career with employment opportunities through all economic cycles, an MBA in HR is a wise investment.

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


U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics: HR Specialists

The Balance: Sample Human Resources Generalist Job Description

U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics: HR Managers

PayScale: HR Generalist


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