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How much money can you make in human resources? What’s the average salary in HR? This in-depth guide will answer these common questions and teach you real ways to increase your HR salary.
Why Your Human Resources Salary Is So Important
Technically speaking, any salary is important. But in HR, understanding what salaries are available is important because human resources is a fairly broad term. There are dozens, if not hundreds, of different job titles in the HR department.
For those of you interested in pursuing a career in HR, this is definitely good news. There’s no shortage of HR jobs, and there’s plenty of money to be made in this department.
The key to a successful HR career is understanding the different paths you can take. Some HR positions have limited growth potential, while others can lead to executive-level roles in a company.
There’s obviously a big difference between a $15 per hour job and a six-figure HR career—most people want to achieve the latter.
The fact that human resources covers so many different areas means that you’ll have tons of opportunities for high-paying jobs throughout your career. You just need to know where to look.
For some of you, you’ll be able to stick with the same organization and increase your salary internally. Others might need to switch companies or industries once or twice to get the highest-paying jobs.
Let’s say you’re still in school or just considering a career change. You might start out as an intern or working an entry-level HR job. But you could quickly advance to a mid-level position if you follow the right path. From there, a six-figure salary and high-level HR role aren’t that far out of reach.
Quick Tips to Increase Your Human Resources Salary Today
Getting a pay raise or salary increase in your current HR role doesn’t have to be a long and grueling task. There are actually some things you can do right now to increase your HR salary.
Tip #1 — Set Realistic Expectations
The first thing you need to do is quickly educate yourself on different HR salaries. This will give you a baseline to gauge your pay and see how much room for growth exists within your existing position.
According to Glassdoor, the average salary for human resources in the United States is $64,349 per year. This will obviously vary based on things like job title, location, company size, and years of experience.
For example, the average base salary for an entry-level HR position with less than one year of experience is $47,581 per year.
The average human resources salary in the US jumps to $79,175 per year with at least ten years of experience and $90,222 with 15+ years of experience. Some of the top-paying HR salaries with 10-15 years of experience get up to $133,000 to $159,000 and higher.
Let’s take a closer look at some of the average HR salaries by role. All of this data is based on the latest research from Indeed.com.
HR Representative — $36,796 per yearHR Assistant — $38,955 per yearStaffing Specialist — $45,356 per yearStaffing Coordinator — $47,367 per yearBenefits Administrator — $47,993 per yearRecruiter — $48,661 per yearHR Specialist — $49,766 per yearHR Administrator — $53,029 per yearHR Associate — $57,330 per yearHR Generalist — $57,599 per yearHR Supervisor — $64,599 per yearHR Manager — $68,533 per yearHRIS Analyst — $74,093 per yearHR Director — $91,039 per yearChief Human Resources Officer — $94,362 per yearVice President of Human Resources — $129,313 per year
Some of these positions come with additional compensation like cash bonuses and profit sharing. For example, HR directors get an average annual cash bonus of $10,000 on top of their base salary. VPs of HR get around $25,000 per year in profit sharing as well, on average.
Educating yourself is the best way to maintain realistic expectations as you’re seeking higher-paying jobs in human resources. Otherwise, you’ll have no idea if you’re being underpaid or overpaid.
Tip #2 — Ask For More Money and More Responsibilities
One of the fastest and easiest ways to increase your human resources salary is by simply asking for more money. This trick works during the hiring process as you’re negotiating your initial salary, and it also works once you’re already employed.
According to a recent study, a whopping 77% of people who asked for more money received a raise. 39% of those people received the amount that they asked for.
In short, the odds are on your side if you ask for more money. But there’s definitely a time, place, and a way to go about this that will increase your chances of success.
One of the best ways to increase your salary is by asking for more responsibilities as well. It shows initiative and tells your superiors that you’re willing to work.
This short-term trick will pay off even more long term, as these added responsibilities add to your value as an employee. Even if you don’t stick with the same company forever, you can use those new skills to increase your salary in an HR position elsewhere.
Here are some other quick tips and best practices to consider as you’re asking for a raise:
Explain why you deserve the raise (not why you need the money)Talk about your future and growth within the companyDemonstrate how you’ve already added value to the HR departmentSummarize your best accomplishmentsShare your goalsAsk for honest feedbackDon’t ask for a raise too frequently (or too soon after getting hired)Be prepared for objectionsDon’t get emotional
Following this advance can increase your HR salary today, without changing positions or getting a promotion. So give it a try.
Tip #3 — Master HR Software
Things like manual data entry, hard-copy file organization, and other paper-pushing tasks are slowly becoming obsolete in the world of HR. Organizations have gone digital, and the role of HR professionals is changing.
For example, many HR teams are spending less time on the phone and responding to emails from employees about tax forms or pay stubs. The vast majority of this information can be accessed using online employee self-service portals.
There are even HR tools out there using artificial intelligence to recruit new employees.
To stay relevant, you must learn to play nice with technology. HR employees who can learn how to use the best HR software will be assets to businesses for the long haul.
Look at a tool like BambooHR. This is an excellent example that shows how technology is changing the way HR teams operate.
The software has solutions for applicant tracking, hiring, onboarding, time tracking, payroll, PTO, performance management, and so much more. It even works as a digital employee database for safe recordkeeping, reporting, and analytics.
HR software hasn’t quite replaced HR employees, and it probably never will. Real humans still need to interact with the software to get the most out of it.
If you can learn how to use different HR tools, especially beyond basic functions, you’ll have a much easier time landing high-paying HR jobs and getting a raise.
You can start today by signing up for demos, watching training videos, and reading knowledge base tutorials to help you master different HR tools.
Tip #4 — Consider Your Employee Benefits
Lots of HR professionals make the mistake of just looking at their base pay. But taking a step back and looking at your employee benefits can really help you compare different HR salaries.
For example, let’s say you’re looking at two job offers in human resources from two different companies.
One job pays $75,000 per year, and the other pays $85,000 per year. At a quick glance, it seems like the second option is the obvious choice. But the lower base salary position might actually be better when you consider your benefits.
Examples of potential benefits to evaluate include:
Cash bonusesProfit-sharing401(k) matchingHealth, vision, and dental insuranceRemote work opportunities and flexible working hoursPaid skills developmentSubsidized foodVacation time and PTOGym memberships and other employee club discountsEducation reimbursementPaid training and certification cost coverage
Using the example offers mentioned earlier, these types of employee benefits can easily add up to more than $10,000 per year. So a higher base salary isn’t always better.
Tip #5 — Check What Other Companies Are Paying
Another fast and easy way to increase your HR salary is by looking at other jobs. This requires minimal effort on your part, and you can see dozens of different job offers within an hour or so.
Just browse through different job boards or run a quick Google search for the HR position you’re seeking.
It costs lots of money to train employees. Replacing them is even more expensive. So if you’ve been somewhere for a while, your employer probably won’t want to lose you.
If you see that similar jobs are paying more elsewhere, you can use that as leverage to negotiate your current salary. Alternatively, you can just apply to those other jobs—assuming you’re comfortable leaving your current company.
Long-Term Strategies For Higher Human Resources Salaries
Beyond the quick tips mentioned above, there are a few long-term approaches to making more money in human resources. These take a bit more time and effort to see the payoff.
Strategy #1 — Get an HR Certification
HR certifications show current and prospective employers that you’re serious about a career in human resources. They’re great for those of you who want to pursue a specialized job within the general field of HR.
To obtain a certification, you’ll typically need to take preparation courses and pass an exam. There are application fees and exam fees to consider as well.
Most HR certifications have prerequisites, such as a minimum level of education or minimum years of experience in an HR role.
Some of the best HR certifications and credentials from HRCI (HR Certification Institute) include:
Associate Professional in Human Resources (aPHR)Associate Professional in Human Resources—International (aPHRi)Professional in Human Resources (PHR)Professional in Human Resources—California (PHRca)Professional in Human Resources—International (PHRi)Senior Professional in Human Resources (SPHR)Senior Professional in Human Resources—International (SPHRi)Global Professional in Human Resources (GPHR)
HRCI has been providing HR credentialing for 45+ years. Obtaining a certification here can really help advance your HR career and increase your salary.
Strategy #2 — Get Your Master’s Degree
Additional schooling is another way to get paid more in human resources. While this isn’t a requirement, it’s definitely suggested if you want to make yourself stand out compared to other candidates—especially for high-level HR positions.
Consider getting a Master’s Degree in one of the following areas:
Business AdministrationHuman ResourcesFinanceEconomicsMarketing
For those of you seeking a mid-level HR position, this probably won’t be necessary. But if you want to become an HR Director, Vice President of Human Resources, or a Chief Human Resources Officer, this degree will really help separate you from the crowd.
Getting your Master’s online is a great option. This way, you don’t have to quit your current HR job to make this happen.
Strategy #3 — Consider Switching Your Industry or Location
As previously mentioned, there are lots of factors to consider when it comes to human resources salaries. If you’re comfortable changing industries and locations, it can really open the doors to new and higher-paying opportunities in HR.
Online tools like Glassdoor make it easy to browse for HR jobs by industry and location.
For example, the average HR salary in the banking and financial services industry is $105,971 in San Diego, California. The average salary for this same industry in St. Louis, Missouri drops to $80,137.
Let’s look at another example using the exact same cities but different industries.
In San Diego, the average HR salary for HR jobs in education is $61,379. The salary is nearly identical for the education industry in St. Louis, at $62,134. When you compare HR jobs in these two cities within the manufacturing industry, the average salary is within $300, at just under $64,000 per year for both.
As you can see, the salary can change drastically or remain the same based on industry or location. But if you do some digging, you can sometimes find a significant pay increase for the same job.
Obviously, moving across the country or changing industries isn’t for everyone. So lots of thought must go into making a decision like this.
Take some time to evaluate your earning potential. This will be based on things like your experience, education, credentials, industry, location, and more.
Next, consider the demand for your career path. If your existing role involves fielding phone calls from employees about their paychecks, chances are the demand will decrease as companies adopt HR software.
Consider looking for ways to improve the existing HR operations of your current organization. Pitching a suggestion like this can really help your cause when it comes time for a raise.
For example, you might suggest applicant tracking software to help your company find top-level talent and streamline the onboarding process. Or maybe pitch something like training software to help lower the costs of employee training, reduce workplace incidents, and help with employee retention.