HR Career Path: Types of Jobs, Salary & Qualifications


HR Career Path


Talented human resources professionals improve an organization’s return on its greatest asset—its people.

Companies of all sizes depend on HR staff to handle employee-related tasks, such as hiring, training, enforcing policies, administering compensation/benefits, and dealing with workplace issues.

In many cases, the first person from the company a potential employee meets is someone from HR.

As an important recruiter and gatekeeper, an HR professional promotes the organization and seeks out talent that will help the business meet its goals.

HR’s Role in Business

When hired, new employees turn to HR as an ally that aids in learning their new role and gets them through administrative matters such as healthcare enrollment and direct deposit setup. Throughout their time at the company, employees continue to seek out HR as an expert source to answer questions about anything from retirement plan specifics to how to deal with a bothersome colleague. HR also keeps in touch with staff on a regular basis for continuing education, policy changes, safety reminders, and other matters.

At large companies, people in the HR department tend to have specialized responsibilities in order to maintain efficiency. Businesses with fewer employees to oversee and a lower HR budget require their human resource professionals to cover more ground.

If you’re interested in an HR career, the following overview provides basic information on what it takes to get started and the various positions you might consider:

Training and Qualifications for HR Careers

Entry-level HR positions typically require a bachelor’s degree. Many enter the field having majored in human resources or business. Classes in psychology, communications, professional writing, and education may prove helpful to understanding and teaching people. Training in accounting or finance can benefit job seekers looking to work in HR areas involving compensation and benefits.

Employers often seek candidates with an MBA (master of business administration) or a master’s degree in human resources for higher roles. Likewise, achieving HR certification yields more career options and better pay.

The Human Resources Certification Institute (HRCI) awards the Professional in Human Resources (PHR) and the Senior Professional in Human Resources (SPHR) to people who meet specific educational and experience parameters and pass a comprehensive exam demonstrating mastery of various industry concepts.

Skills Needed for HR Careers

Because they interact with others on a regular basis, HR folks need outstanding interpersonal skills. Other beneficial qualities include:

  • Solid verbal and written communication abilities
  • A helpful, problem-solving nature
  • High integrity/discretion, as they come into contact with confidential information
  • Commitment to lifelong learning in order to stay abreast of changes to employment law, training methods, and best practices

Common Types of HR Careers

If you’re interested in an HR career, the following jobs (depending on skill level) is good place to start.

HR Manager

Median annual wage: $113,300

In addition to coordinating and overseeing the work of others within the HR department, HR managers serve as trusted advisors for leaders from other divisions to turn to for advice on handling worker-related issues. Other responsibilities might include developing recruitment strategies, mediating disputes, and assessing worker productivity.

Large organizations sometimes employ specialized managers who devote their energy to a certain area of HR. For instance, a training and development manager plans and coordinates programs to boost the knowledge and skill sets of employees.

HR Specialist

Median annual wage: $60,880

These professionals perform the tasks that commonly come to mind when one thinks of human resources—interviewing applicants, conducting new employee orientation, answering questions about benefits, processing payroll, and ensuring compliance with employment law, to name a few. Scope of responsibilities varies by company and oftentimes even by day! Proof of the broad nature of this job title: the Bureau of Labor Statistics considers both recruiters and HR generalists in this category.

HR Assistant

Median annual wage: $40,700

These vital helpers work with others to keep the HR department functioning smoothly. Their duties oftentimes are administrative in nature, such as handling paperwork, keeping track of absences, posting job vacancies, and calling references of job candidates. Highly organized people who pay attention to detail and possess solid data entry skills may do well in this position.

Recruiter

Median annual wage: $60,880

This type of HR career heavily focuses on a company’s hiring needs and filling open positions. Recruiters commonly work for a staffing company or agency that partners with companies to find them great candidates. That said, in-house roles are also prevalent. Helping with resumes, interview prep, and salary negotiation are a few other things recruiters may do to help job seekers. Familiarity with HR databases and applicant tracking systems (ATS) is needed.

Professional HR Associations

Want to learn more about careers in human resources? The following groups can provide information and help you connect with others in the industry:

The Society for Human Resource Management

The go-to group for all things related to human resources, this global organization offers members everything from career advice and learning opportunities to up-to-date information on pressing topics such as tax laws and sexual harassment prevention.

The National Human Resources Association

Members of this volunteer-led organization have access to professional networking forums and a variety of career development programs.

Boosting Your HR Career

HR can be a very rewarding—and flexible—career choice. Check out these success stories from members of FlexJobs for inspiration. Then, start weighing your options by browsing through the HR employment opportunities available on the FlexJobs site.

We provide a worry-free experience by verifying all our postings so that you can spend your valuable time focusing on finding the job best-suited to your aspirations. You also will want to take a look at our list of the best 100 companies for flexible HR and recruiting jobs.

CONNECT TO HR JOBS >>>

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Beth Braccio Hering, Writer, Freelance Jobs

Beth Braccio Hering has been a freelance writer for 20 years. In addition to extensive contributions to various Encyclopaedia Britannica products, her work has been published by outlets such as CareerBuilder, Johnson & Johnson’s BabyCenter, Walt Disney Internet Group, and…Read More >

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