A human resources (HR) manager oversees the personnel functions of an organization including compensation, benefits, employee relations, HR information systems, training, workforce planning, recruitment and employment, and health and safety.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), employment of HR managers is projected to grow by 6% between 2019 to 2029, about as fast as average for all occupations. As new companies form and organizations expand their operations, they need HR managers to oversee and administer their programs. Human resources managers are also required to ensure that firms adhere to changing and complex employment laws.
Applying for a job as an HR manager? Learn what you can expect to see in terms of a job description, education and training requirements, and median salary.
Human Resources Job Description
Human resources managers develop personnel policies in consultation with senior executives and department heads. HR managers also hire, train, and supervise human resource specialists and human resources assistants. Additionally, HR managers are tasked with creating strategic recruitment and succession planning to create a workforce strong enough to meet the future goals of the organization.
HR managers work in private companies, non-profit organizations, government agencies, and educational institutions.
Those employed at small organizations tend to be generalists (juggling many responsibilities) while those at larger organizations may specialize in a particular HR discipline such as employment or benefits.
Typically, human resources managers work full-time in offices. Some HR managers work more than 40 hours a week, according to the BLS. However, even with a demanding workload, these professionals tend to like what they do. PayScale reports that 4 out of 5 HR managers describe themselves as being “highly satisfied” with their job.
Education and Training Requirements
HR managers need strong interpersonal skills. They often have to manage tough situations in the workplace that require the ability to communicate with people effectively. Because this role often involves mediating disputes, experience with and training in conflict resolution would be a plus. Other key skills include decision-making skills, leadership skills, organizational skills, and public speaking skills.
Typically, HR managers have a bachelor's degree in business administration or HR management.
Some managers pursue other majors in the liberal arts, such as psychology, and specialize at the master's degree level. Other degrees at the bachelor’s level that would be acceptable include finance, business management, education, or information technology.
Those looking to advance further up the corporate ladder (or seeking a job with a Fortune 500 company) typically acquire an MBA with a concentration in HR management or a master's degree in HR management.
HR Career Paths
One of the key benefits of a career in HR is that there are many different opportunities to choose from. HR managers can develop advanced knowledge in specialty areas within the field such as labor relations, compensation, benefits, leadership development, employee engagement, and talent acquisition. The Society for Human Resource Management offers training modules in many of these specialized areas.
In terms of career paths, PayScale reports that HR managers typically go on to become senior HR managers and HR directors. Eventually, some go on to become vice presidents of HR.
Human Resources Manager Salaries
According to the BLS, HR managers earned median pay of $116,720 in 2019 or $56.11 per hour. The lowest-earning 10% of HR managers earned less than $68,300, and the highest-earning 10% made more than $205,720.
Some industries pay higher wages than others for these positions. The highest paying industries for HR managers in 2019 were related to professional, scientific, and technical services, management, and manufacturing.
States With the Highest Salaries
The states where human resources managers earned the highest median salaries in 2019 were New Jersey, the District of Columbia, New York, Rhode Island, and California. The states with the highest employment levels for HR manager jobs were California, New York, Illinois, Texas, and Florida.
Earnings and Education Level
As with many occupations, education tends to boost earnings. Candidates with certification or a master’s degree—particularly those with a concentration in HR management—have the best job prospects. According to PayScale, skills like performance management and employee relations tend to raise pay.
Learn More About HR Certification
- The Society for Human Resource Management: SHRM offers two certifications—SHRM-CP, which is geared toward HR professionals in day-to-day operations roles, and SHRM-SCP, which is geared toward senior HR professionals in strategic roles.
- HR Certification Institute: HRCI offers eight certifications for HR pros at all stages of their careers, from entry-level high school graduates to senior professionals.
- The International Public Management Association for Human Resources: IPMA-HR focuses on the public sector and offers two certifications, one for entry- and mid-level professionals (IPMA-CP) and one for senior professionals (IPMA-SCP).