By Charlene Lattea, WVU Online | Wednesday, August 30, 2023
Explore salary expectations, career development factors, and industry insights for human resource managers.
Did you know that Human Resources is one of the fastest-growing fields of employment in the United States?
If you are looking for a career path that offers opportunity, job satisfaction, growth, and variety, as well as good earning potential, Human Resources may be the one for you.
In this article, we will help you understand Human Resources manager salaries and the various factors that influence earnings to help you decide if you want to pursue a degree in Human Resources and, if so, which career path would be the best one for you.
Human Resource managers play a crucial role in today’s business world, helping companies to run smoothly.
HR managers are employed in nearly every industry, and there are many opportunities for advancement, and a higher salary, depending on a number of different variables.
For example, if you work in a big city, particularly in the United States, you will make a larger salary than you would in a state or country that has a smaller population. Your industry also makes a difference. HR managers working in large corporations, particularly in professional, scientific and technical services making more.
Traditionally, most HR managers have held at least a bachelor’s degree, but since these positions are becoming more specialized, you will move up the ladder faster with a master’s degree and a more strategic mindset.
Finally, your skills and experience are probably most important. You will begin to make a higher salary after you have about five years of experience in HR, gaining advanced professional knowledge, data-driven decision-making skills, and leadership capabilities.
You may want to concentrate in a particular area, such as compensation and benefits, labor relations, or training and development to make a higher salary as a specialist. You will also need to have “soft skills” or people skills in Human Resources, because this career path is all about people and your ability to communicate with them.
When making your decision about whether to get a degree in Human Resources, you should consider all these variables and think about whether you can meet all the requirements of this competitive field.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual pay for HR managers is currently approximately $130,000 per year, with five or more years of experience.
Employment of HR managers is projected to grow 7 percent from through 2031, with approximately 16,300 openings for HR managers projected each year, on average, over the decade.
Those with several years of experience, in senior HR positions, often make between 30% and 60% more than the average salary.
HR jobs in the United States pay more than those in Canada and other countries, due to the higher population. Also, big cities generally pay higher salaries than smaller communities.
Let’s look at the salary range for HR mangers, from entry-level to senior positions, as well as the potential for growth and advancement in the field.
HR Assistant - $45,930
HR assistants are junior positions and often have responsibilities having to do with payroll or benefits. They may work with a specific HR manager, or for the entire department, with duties assigned as needed.
HR Specialist - $64,240
HR specialists typically work in areas such as onboarding or payroll. They are on a higher level than an HR associate, and may make more than this average salary, depending on years of experience.
Compensation and Benefits Managers - $131,208
Benefits specialists are HR specialists who focus on benefits, ensuring that employees are enrolled for benefits, and that packages meet employee needs.
Training and Development Manager - $120,000
Training and development managers plan, direct, or coordinate the training and development activities and staff of an organization and they need a considerable amount of work-related skills to teach others.
HR Manager - $130,000
The average salary for an HR manager in the U.S. includes various specializations and seniority levels. For example, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, a Labor Relations Specialist with a bachelor’s degree makes $77,000, while a top-level executive with the same degree makes approximately $100,000.
We now know that HR manager positions are highly competitive, in part because of the lucrative salaries. But what are some of the key factors that impact compensation for HR managers?
There is a lot of variation, depending on the position. These are some of the factors to consider, that will impact your salary as an HR manager:
A bachelor’s degree has traditionally been the most common degree held by HR managers, but many candidates now hold a master’s degree, since the field is becoming more specialized. A post-baccalaureate certificate is also an option.
You will need to have several years of HR-related work experience to be qualified for HR positions with higher salaries. You will probably need to be in the company for five years or more.
Your company size usually means a higher salary. Larger companies often hire specialists so that each HR area is covered, while in smaller companies one HR manager may wear many different hats.
One of the main factors affecting the salaries of HR managers is location. For example, salaries are higher in major cities. They are also higher in the United States than in other countries.
Being certified as a Human Resources professional can also affect your salary. There are many ways to become certified, but some of the most common HR certifications are offered by the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), or the Human Resources Certification Institute (HRCI).
Your job skills also make a difference and there are certain skills that are highly valued in HR, such as knowledge of payroll software, communication skills, training skills, and coaching skills. You must also have “soft skills” such as teamwork, accountability, and adaptability.
New technology is a big part of HR professional knowledge and you must be able to use various kinds of computer software and systems. This includes employee database management, onboarding, attendance tracking, performance management, time accounting, scheduling and case management. Examples include Paycor, BambooHR, and Justworks, among many others.
If you are an HR manager with a specialization in a specific area such as diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI), recruiting, financial management, training and development, or compensation and benefits, this usually means a higher salary. If you can train other in your area of expertise, that makes you even more valuable to the company.
The salaries of HR managers usually differ based on the industry they work in, whether it be government, healthcare, technology, nonprofits, or finance.
In this section we will look at the salaries of HR managers in different types of industries.
Human resources managers held about 174,200 jobs in 2021, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. The largest employers of HR managers were in professional, scientific, and technical services (16%), management of companies and enterprises (13%), manufacturing (10%), healthcare and social assistance (8%) and government (8%).
The growth in employment for HR managers depends largely on the performance of individual companies. As new companies form and expand their operations, they need more HR managers to administer and monitor their programs.
The majority of Human Resources Healthcare salaries currently range between $37,000 to $48,000 across the United States. The top earners make $54,500.
The average pay range for a Human Resources Healthcare manager varies greatly, which suggests there may be many opportunities for advancement and increased pay based on skill level, location and years of experience.
The estimated median annual pay for a Human Resources Manager at United States Federal Government is currently $91,881 per year, according to Glassdoor.
This includes a base pay of $88,112 per year and additional pay of approximately $3,769 per year in bonus, stock, commission, profit sharing or tips.
The total pay range is $74,000 to $115,000 per year.
According to Comparably, the average salary for a Human Resources Technology Manager in the United States is currently $170,667. This includes a bonus of $18,000 which represents 11% of their salary, with 100% of managers reporting that they receive a bonus each year.
The salaries of HR Technology Managers in the U.S. range from $136,000 to $204,000.
One of the most important factors affecting HR manager salaries is location. Currently, the data shows the United States having higher salaries for HR managers in bigger cities.
In the United States, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor, HR managers currently earn a median annual salary of $130,000 per year, with 10% of workers earning $76,610 or less and 10% earning $224,360 or more.
There are 13 states (including the District of Columbia) where the typical salary for an HR manager is above the national average, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor statistics. Check out the salaries in these states and find more information in the links provided:
Some of the cities paying the highest HR manager salaries include: New York, Boston; Los Angeles; San Francisco; Seattle; San Jose; Philadelphia; Denver and Boulder, Colo.; and the Washington, D.C. area, including Arlington and Alexandria, Va.
If you are looking for a career opportunity with economic advancement, you may find that location is one of the key factors to look at for future success. Also make sure to figure out your cost of living in whatever region you choose, as that will also make a difference in take-home pay.
There is no indication that HR manager salaries will trend downward anytime soon. They will continue to rise, especially in high-population areas in the United States, as companies grow larger and need Human Resources departments to handle recruiting, benefits and payroll, employee retention, and more.
The field of Human Resources is becoming increasingly specialized and also increasingly strategic. HR manager is now less of an administrative role and one in which these professionals must make calculated decisions as they recruit new employees, create benefit packages, deal with payroll, maximize employee productivity, implement policies to improve operations and uphold employment laws.
This provides more opportunities for HR managers who want a fast-growing career, and who are strategic, analytical thinkers and who can make careful decisions about possible outcomes.
According to James Field, professor and coordinator of WVU Online’s Human Resources Leadership M.S. program, today’s graduates in Human Resources will compete in a growing market and see continued upward movement along their career paths.
"You’ll invest in your future by developing advanced professional knowledge, data-driven decision-making skills, technical skills, and "people skills" to assume leadership roles within your organization which translates into high earning potential in the future as well."
Human Resource managers are needed in nearly every industry, and there are many opportunities for advancement in this field, as well as larger salaries, depending on your location, skills, and experience.
HR management jobs are in great demand today, making it one of the fastest-growing fields in the United States. But make sure you consider all the factors that influence HR manager salaries when deciding what area of HR you desire to study and make an informed decision.
The WVU Online Master’s in Human Resources Leadership gives you advanced professional knowledge, data-driven decision-making skills, and leadership capabilities, positioning you to compete in a growing market. With this degree, you'll have a direct impact on a company's future.
After reading this article, if you are unsure about your goals, or how to identify your interests and skills, be sure to reach out to one of our WVU Online admissions coaches. They are trained to help you look at your individual situation and make the right choice for your future.
Call us, write us, or fill out the request information form. Whichever communication style you prefer, there will be someone from WVU Online on the other end waiting to help.