From HR assistant to VP of HR, learn the educational requirements and career path opportunities for pursuing a job in Human Resources.
Here's what you need to know:
- The top reasons for pursuing a career in HR include having new challenges, a great salary, and steady job growth
- The top HR jobs to consider include HR assistant, training and development specialist, senior recruiter, and HR manager
- Other top career paths to consider include labor and relations specialist, compensation and benefits manager, and VP of HR
- Consider obtaining HR certification credentials to continue to advance your career
Are you interested in exploring your options for a career in human resources? From HR coordinators to HR managers, there are many specialties to explore within the realm of HR.
Get ready to discover some of the top-paying and most rewarding careers in the HR field.
What is human resources and what are the specialty areas?
Human resources can refer to either the people or the department in charge of all people operations. This includes hiring, onboarding, training, and other duties related to managing employees.
Depending on the size of the organization, your HR department may be an entire team of people. Or, in smaller businesses, a single person may handle all these administrative tasks.
HR focuses on several specialty areas:
- Recruiting and staffing, including writing job descriptions, placing ads on job boards, evaluating applicant resumes, scheduling interviews, and making an offer of employment
- Compensation and benefits, such as determining competitive pay rates, setting paid time off policies, and providing health and wellness perks such as medical insurance
- Promotions and performance reviews to discuss employee goals, areas needing improvement, and expectations for future advancement
- Training and learning, including educational opportunities, learning new software systems, and skill-building for future career development
- Culture and branding to protect the company’s reputation and enhance its public image to help attract top talent
What are the requirements for a career in HR?
Strong people skills are a must for anyone considering a career in human resources. Public speaking, communication skills, the ability to adapt to new tech, and discretion in handling confidential information are just of few of the strengths you’ll need to succeed.
A 2-year associate or 4-year bachelor’s degree are the minimum education requirements for an entry-level generalist or specialist position.
A 2-year associate or 4-year bachelor’s degree are the minimum education requirements for an entry-level generalist or specialist position. If you’re interested in higher-level management and leadership positions then you may want to get a master’s degree or an MBA in Human Resources Management.
Why should you pursue a career in human resources?
Depending on your area of interest, there are many career opportunities available in the HR industry. The top reasons for pursuing a career in HR include building connections, networking opportunities, and more.
Continually facing new challenges is one way to stay engaged in the workplace. Every day is different in human resources.
If you think you’ll become bored with a job where you do the same thing day after day, consider a career in HR. One day you could help determine new hiring needs while the next you could be setting up the organization’s new health and wellness initiative.
As of May 2021, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported that the median annual salary for an HR specialist was $62,290. Entry-level HR positions start in the $40,000 to $50,000 range, while professionals with a few years of experience can command salaries above $100,000.
You probably don’t have to worry about longevity when you choose a career in HR. Human resources careers continue to show a positive growth rate. The BLS reports that from 2020 to 2030, projected HR job growth is 10%, with about 73,400 HR specialist positions opening every year.
What are the top 7 human resources careers to consider?
There are many different paths to choose from when pursuing a career in human resources. Here is a list of the top 7 HR career opportunities. It includes a brief description of job duties, along with the average base salary for each one.
1. HR assistant
This is the entry-level position to start a career in this field. People starting in this role typically help with answering phones, filing, paperwork, and other administrative duties. They may also help with new-hire onboarding and maintaining employee records.
Average HR assistant base salary: $41,534
2. Training and development specialist
Training and development specialists help with all tasks related to employee education and career development. This can include everything from onboarding new hires to updating the employee handbook.
3. Senior recruiter
If you want to specialize in the interviewing, hiring, and onboarding side of HR, then you may want to consider a career in recruiting. Recruiters are responsible for providing staffing services for organizations.
You can work for a company, a private recruiting agency, or as an independent consultant. Senior recruiters are typically required to have at least 3 to 5 years of experience in human resources or as a junior-level recruiter.
Average senior recruiter base salary: $69,570
4. HR manager
An HR manager is a generalist type of position that oversees all aspects of the HR department. The person taking on this job needs great communication abilities and exceptional time-management skills. Everything from hiring to enforcing company policies falls under their area of responsibility.
Average human resources manager base salary: $75,324
5. Labor relations specialist
Labor relations specialists are sometimes called employee relations specialists. In larger corporations, they help bridge the gap between management and labor unions. Because they create employment contracts, they must be expert negotiators and proficient in all local, state, and federal labor laws.
Average labor relations specialist base salary: $87,000
6. Compensation and benefits manager
The compensation manager prepares and implements the company benefits package. This includes things like pension plans, PTO allowances, and health insurance. They also work within a set budget and create a salary structure for each position within the organization.
Average compensation manager base salary: $94,784
7. Vice president of HR
The VP of HR is sometimes called the Chief Human Resources Officer (CHRO). From overseeing the management of all admin activities to setting company goals and policies, this position is in charge of anything and everything HR-related. You’ll need at least 10 years of experience to pursue this high-level career path.
Average vice president of HR base salary: $129,463
What’s your biggest 2022 HR challenge that you’d like to resolve
Answer to see the results
How can you level up your human resources skills?
Obtaining HR credentials is another way to continue growing your career. There are many options to explore onsite or with online educational resources. For example, the Society for Human Resource Management provides exam prep and testing for its SHRM Certified Professional and SHRM Senior Certified Professional credentials.
If you’re looking for options on how to advance your career but aren’t sure where to start, Zenefits can help. Our People Operations certification is a great way to take your HR skills to the next level. People Ops is the future of HR. It’s critical for building a people-first culture and a happy and productive workplace.