A Closer Look at 9 Human Resources Salaries

human resources salaries

The first thing you’ll notice about researching human resources (HR) jobs is that there are a lot of them. Titles like specialist, generalist and assistant pair with every focus area from timekeeping to labor relations. Anyone outside the world of HR would likely have a hard time sorting out which HR positions net the highest salaries, which ones are specializations and which ones are entry-level jobs.

If you are interested in working in HR, however, human resource salaries are an important aspect of your plans. To make things easier, we compiled a list of some of the most common HR jobs along with their salary information to help you decide on the best HR position for you.

As with any job, the highest salaries come with positions that expect a few years of experience on top of the required education. So get a good look at the average HR salaries for all these varying positions—and give yourself an idea of where your career could take you!

9 Common HR job titles & salaries

We took a closer look at nine human resources positions and the compensation that correlates with them. Use this chart to visualize your options, then read below to familiarize yourself with each role.

human resources salaries chart

1. HR Assistant

HR assistants support the human resources department by completing clerical tasks. They record employee data, such as earnings, absences, sales, supervisor reports and termination information, according to the Department of Labor (DOL). They keep records updated and organized and retrieve information for managers when it’s needed.

2017 Median annual salary: $39,480*

Job outlook: The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects around 15,100 more HR assistant positions will be added from 2016–2026, which is a growth rate that is slower than the average occupation. These jobs are certainly out there, but may not have as much opportunity and availability as others.

Education needed: HR assistants typically need some college training or an Associate’s degree, according to the DOL. For some employers, related job experience might be acceptable in place of education.

2. Payroll and timekeeping clerk

Payroll and timekeeping clerks handle data related to employee time and payment, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). Tasks may vary depending on the company they work for, but these professionals are generally the ones who review timesheets, enter commissions and wages, prepare paychecks and enter new employee information.

2017 Median annual salary: $43,890*

Job outlook: Employment of payroll and timekeeping clerks is projected to stay steady, according to the DOL. While that employment growth rate is slower than the national average for all jobs, HR is still projected to be adding around 16,000 new payroll and timekeeping clerk jobs in the next ten years.

Education needed: A high school diploma or equivalent can be enough for some payroll and timekeeping clerks. The DOL reports 39 percent respondents for this occupation as holding a high school diploma, with the rest having some college training or an Associate’s degree.

3. HR specialist

The HR specialist job title encompasses many of the primary HR positions, such as recruiter and HR generalist, according to the BLS. These professionals recruit, screen, interview and place employees, while also handling tasks related to employee relations and orientation.

Human resources specialists might also administer benefits, process payroll and field problems. HR specialists also tend to have a strategic focus for their companies, planning and hiring to fit current and future needs.

2017 Median annual salary: $60,350**

Job outlook: Employment of HR specialists is projected to grow at a rate of seven percent, which is about the average rate for all occupations according to the BLS. Many companies will outsource their HR needs to agencies instead of hiring internally, but HR generalists in particular could be in high demand to handle employment laws that are becoming more complicated.

Education needed: HR specialists typically need a Bachelor’s degree in Business or Human Resources, according to the BLS.

4. Training and development specialist

Have you ever watched a training video in your first week of a new job? If so, you have an idea of at least some of what training and development specialists do. They’re the folks responsible for the design, planning and administration of training programs intended to develop employee skills and competencies.

This includes deciding what information employees need to know to train in, creating training manuals, presenting information to employees, updating existing training materials and evaluating the need for new ones. This is an important role for organizations to fully integrate and develop their employees to their maximum potential.

2017 Median annual salary: $60,360**

Job outlook: Employment of training and development specialists is projected to grow 11 percent through 2026, a rate faster than the national average, according to the BLS. Since so many industries require pretty constant training and education updates, professionals who lead training are in consistent demand.

The growing use of media and technology in so many companies is also creating more demand for training and development specialists who can train their employees in the new systems.

Education needed: Training and development specialists need a Bachelor’s degree, according to the BLS. Many positions may also require work experience in areas such as training and development or similar occupations, such as human resources specialists or teachers.

Candidates looking for an extra edge could also pursue certification in training and development from organizations like the Association for Talent Development or International Society for Performance Improvement.

5. Compensation/benefits specialist

Companies need compensation, benefits and job analysis specialists to build and manage compensation and benefits programs. These professionals use data and cost analysis to evaluate plan options, determine salaries and keep the company in compliance with state and federal regulations.

Compensation specialists assess and work with the organization’s pay structure. Benefits specialists administer the organization’s benefits programs (e.g., retirement plans, leave policies, wellness programs and insurance policies). Job analysis specialists, also known as position classifiers, evaluate positions by writing or assigning job descriptions and deciding salary scales.

2017 Median annual salary: $62,680**

Job outlook: The job outlook for these professionals looks steady and secure, according to the BLS. Their employment is expected to grow nine percent from 2016 to 2026, which is about as fast as the average for all occupations.

Companies need these professionals to determine the right compensation and benefits offerings for their employees and to ensure their compensation packages abide by regulations. They also depend on compensation and benefits specialists to offer competitive compensation packages to attract and retain qualified employees—a factor that is especially important in sectors where talent is in fierce demand.

Education needed: A Bachelor’s degree is the most common threshold for this job, according to the BLS. Some work experience in compensation analysis and general HR is also normally required.

6. Labor relations specialist:

Labor relations specialists advise an organization’s management on contracts, worker grievances and disciplinary procedures, according to the BLS. This may involve orchestrating meetings between management and labor unions, meeting with union representatives directly, investigating grievances and training management in labor relations. Additionally, these specialists may also draft formal language as part of the collective bargaining process and use their deep knowledge of collective bargaining agreements to ensure both labor and management comply with contractual agreements.

2017 Median annual salary: $63,200**

Job outlook: Employment of labor relations specialists is projected to decline eight percent, according to the BLS. Part of this decline is because union membership has been declining. Since union work is a huge part of what labor relations specialists do, this impacts the demand.

In industries where unions still have a large presence, there should be more opportunity. Candidates with a Bachelor’s degree, related work experience and professional certificates should have the best job prospects.

Education needed: Labor relations specialists typically need a Bachelor’s degree with some coursework in labor or employment relations, according to the BLS. Previous experience in HR may also be a requirement.

7. HR manager

Human resources managers oversee, plan and direct the administrative functions of an organization, according to the BLS. This involves guiding the recruitment and onboarding of new staff, strategic planning with executives and sometimes overseeing HR teams and programs such as compensation, employee retention and employee relations. 

Overall, human resources managers are responsible for maximizing the value of the organization’s employees. Larger companies might hire specific managers for each department in HR as well, such as payroll managers or recruiting managers. 

2017 Median annual salary: $110,120**

Job outlook: Employment of human resources managers is projected to grow nine percent to 2026, according to the BLS. This is a pretty normal rate of growth for all occupations. As new companies form and organizations expand, they will need more human resources managers to oversee their programs.

Education needed: HR managers need at least Bachelor’s degree and several years of related work experience. These jobs are certainly competitive, and candidates with a Master’s degree will likely have the best prospects.

8. Training and development manager

Training and development managers oversee the company’s efforts to create and coordinate programs that enhance employee knowledge and skills, according to the BLS. This might include assessing training needs, strategizing on larger company goals, managing training budgets and monitoring endeavors for effectiveness.

This position involves some teaching since managers teach training methods to specialists who then instruct the organization’s employees. In smaller companies, training and development managers may also instruct employees directly.

2017 Median annual salary: $108,250**

Job outlook: Employment for training and development managers is projected to grow 10 percent through 2026, according to the BLS. This growth rate is faster than average. In part, this is because technology is enabling new learning possibilities for employees—particularly remote workers.

The rising importance of social media, digital tools and technological solutions in companies across all industries also creates plenty of demand for training.

Education needed: Training and development managers need a Bachelor’s degree for many positions, but some jobs may require a Master’s degree, according to the BLS. Related work experience is also crucial for training and development managers. Some employers may prefer this experience to be in their specific industry.

9. Compensation and benefits manager

Compensation and benefits managers set their organization’s pay and benefits, determine competitive wage rates and choose and manage outside partners, such as insurance brokers and investment managers, according to the BLS.

Depending on the size of the company, these professionals might manage teams of HR specialists who work on different compensation and benefits programs. They also keep tabs on federal and state regulations to ensure their company complies. Compensation and benefits managers also meet with senior staff to present analyses and make recommendations on compensation and benefits policies, programs and plans.

2017 Median annual salary: $119,120**

Job outlook: Employment of compensation and benefits managers is projected to be on pace with the average growth rate for all occupations at five percent, according to the BLS. Trying to reduce costs is a continual goal for companies and hiring a compensation and benefits manager is key to keeping the company ideally positioned in the market.

Education needed: As you might expect, most compensation and benefits managers need a Bachelor’s degree. Managers also need related work experience and often specialize in either compensation or benefits, depending on the type of experience they have.

Getting a start as a compensation, benefits and job analysis specialist is a great way to gain the needed experience for management. 

The HR career that fits your future

Now that you have a better idea of what human resources salaries are out there, you are better equipped to chart an ambitious HR career path. It’s no surprise that the higher-paying management positions require some time and experience in HR, but if you have a plan for the positions you want to work toward, you can make informed choices from the start.

Human resources from top to bottom is all about people. If you understand how central people are to a company’s success, HR might be the ideal career for you. Check out the Human Resources and Organizational Leadership degree for more information about the flexible learning options Rasmussen College has to offer.


*Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Employment Statistics, [career information accessed April 24, 2018] www.bls.gov/oes/.

**Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, [career information accessed April 24, 2018] www.bls.gov/ooh/. Salary data represents national, averaged earnings for the occupations listed and includes workers at all levels of education and experience. This data does not represent starting salaries and employment conditions in your area may vary.

Brianna Flavin

Brianna is a content writer for Collegis Education who writes student focused articles on behalf of Rasmussen College. She earned her MFA in poetry and teaches as an adjunct English instructor. She loves to write, teach and talk about the power of effective communication.

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Posted in General Business


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