Human Resource Manager Careers: Job Description & Salary

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What are the pros and cons of a career in human resources management? Get real job duties, career prospects and salary statistics to determine if a career as a human resources manager is right for you.
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Pros and Cons of a Career as Human Resource Manager

HR managers provide contact between the general pool of employees and upper management, as well as resolve employee conflicts, answer questions about benefits and recruit new employees. Weigh the positive and negative aspects of this career before deciding if you want to become a human resources manager.

Pros of Becoming a Human Resource Manager
High earning potential (median salary of $103,000 as of 2014)*
HR manager jobs exist in nearly every industry*
Typically only requires a bachelor's degree*
Opportunities to specialize in different aspects of HR management (payroll, staffing, etc.)*

Cons of Becoming a Human Resource Manager
Often requires years of experience*
Stress involved in dealing with employee conflict or tension*
Upper-level HR management positions often require master's degrees*
Work-related travel could be expected*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Essential Career Information

Job Description and Duties

The job of a human resource (HR) manager is to provide contact between the general pool of employees and upper management as well as to resolve employee conflicts, answer questions about benefits and recruit new employees. You may find job opportunities in almost all types of industries, including government, healthcare, manufacturing and private business. The job involves overseeing the operations of an HR department, which could include managing employee compensation and benefit packages, answering employee questions and resolving disputes among staff. You might also recruit prospective employees, interview applicants, make hiring decisions and coordinate training programs for new hires.

In addition to completing daily tasks, you must also keep in mind the larger vision for the business. This means you might suggest policy changes to improve productivity and morale, advise business owners on departmental restructuring and, in general, work to enhance business performance by coordinating the most efficient workforce possible. You could also oversee and delegate tasks to a staff of HR specialists. You'll typically work a full-time schedule in an office; however, if you work for a national or international organization, you may have to travel to other branches to conduct business.

Specializations

Human resource managers who work for larger companies could specialize in specific aspects of HR management. You might, for example, work as a compensation analyst, collaborating with your company's department heads to figure out salaries for positions or determine bonuses. Payroll managers, on the other hand, oversee the entire payroll department to ensure that employees are paid in full and on time. You could also serve as a recruiting manager and oversee all hiring activities in the HR department, or you could be a labor relations manager and handle labor contracts, employment policies and employee disputes.

Career Outlook and Salary Information

The field of human resources was expected to grow at an average rate of 13% from 2012-2022, adding around 13,600 new positions to the field, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). Employment in this industry is dependent on the condition of the economy, so as companies grow and expand, the need for human resource managers should also increase. However, job growth could be stunted by advancements in information systems technology that increase productivity and reduce demand for HR managers. The best prospects were expected in the professional, scientific and technical consulting industries.

The BLS also reported that HR managers earned a median salary of nearly $103,000 in 2014. The lowest-paid HR managers earned about $60,000 or less, while the highest-paid of these professionals earned $183,000 or more. The employers that paid the most were found in the information services and motion picture industries as well as brokerage and securities firms.

What Are the Requirements?

Education

The BLS indicated that you'll usually need a bachelor's degree to qualify for a human resource manager job. Not many schools offer human resource programs specifically; however, you might find business administration majors that include courses or a concentration in human resource management. In school, you can learn about common business and hiring practices, corporate benefits analysis and business law while developing your leadership and training skills.

Top Skills for Human Resource Managers

Since you'll be responsible for managing employees and communicating with upper management, you should have good interpersonal and organizational abilities and be able to motivate others. Most employers are going to require that you have sufficient experience in business and human resources before hiring you as an HR manager. You can learn analytical and decision-making skills in lower-level supervisory positions or as a human resource specialist. You'll need to be highly organized and be able to communicate clearly and effectively.

What Do Employers Look for?

Employers of human resource managers are generally looking for candidates who are familiar with current human resource issues and legislation as well as those capable of creating and managing employee policy and benefit packages. The following job posts from Monster.com can give you a sense of what employers were looking for in March 2012:

  • A manufacturing company in Ohio needed a human resource manager to report directly to the company's president. Applicants needed a bachelor's degree related to human resources, 5-7 years of HR experience and knowledge of personnel law and compliance issues.
  • A government-funded healthcare company in New York searched for an HR manager with a bachelor's degree and 7-10 years in human resource management in the healthcare industry. A master's degree or professional certification was preferred.
  • A lawn and garden product company in Iowa needed a human resource manager capable of evaluating and improving current operational efficiency. The applicant required a bachelor's degree in or related to human resources, five years of HR management experience and experience in the manufacturing industry.

How Can I Stand Out in the Field?

Continue Your Education

While you can enter the career with a bachelor's degree, the BLS expected greater job opportunities for candidates with a master's degree. You can find several schools with master's degree programs in human resource management, usually as a Master of Business Administration concentration. In an HR master's degree program, you'll take courses in HR strategy, employment law, international management, reward systems and staff diversity. You could also earn the degree part-time and online, which you could use to apply toward your current job and help you to advance to an upper-level HR manager position.

Get Certified

The BLS notes that another way you can increase your job prospects is to earn voluntary certification. You can pursue professional credentials through various organizations, like the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM). The SHRM offers several levels of certification, including the Professional in Human Resources, Senior Professional in Human Resources and Global Professional in Human Resources designations. Certification can show potential employers that you meet academic and experience requirements and that you're familiar with industry standards.

Other Related Careers

Administrative Service Manager

If you don't want to pursue human resources management due to the education requirements, consider becoming an administrative service manager. You might qualify for some jobs with a high school diploma, though some positions require a bachelor's degree. As an administrative service manager, you will still be able to coordinate activities within an organization and oversee support personnel, but your duties will be less focused on human resources. According to the BLS, this field was expected to grow at a rate of 15% from 2010-2020, and administrative service managers earned a median salary of nearly $80,000 per year as of 2011.

Human Resource Specialist

If you prefer to stay in the field of human resources, but don't want the high level of responsibility of a management position, you might instead become a human resource specialist. In this career, you will share many of the same basic duties as an HR manager, but you won't have to deal with big-picture responsibilities, like consulting with executives and supervising staff. These positions also typically require a bachelor's degree in human resources, though some employers might hire you if you have related work experience.

As of 2011, human resource specialists earned a median annual salary of more than $54,000 per year, according to the BLS. The BLS also reports that this field was expected to grow at a faster-than-average rate of 21% from 2010-2020.

Popular Schools

  • Online Programs Available
    1. American University

    Program Options

    Master's
      • Master of Science in Human Resource Analytics and Management
      • Master of Science in Human Resource Analytics and Management
  • Online Programs Available
    2. Northcentral University

    Program Options

    Doctorate
      • Doctor of Business Admin - Human Resources Management
      • PhD in Business Admin - Human Resources Management
      • PhD - Organizational Leadership (PhD-OL)
      • PhD in Business Admin - Management
      • Ed.D. - Global Training and Development
      • Doctor of Business Admin - General Business
    Master's
      • MBA - Human Resources Management
      • Master of Science in Organizational Leadership - Accelerated Master of Science in Organizational Leadership
      • MS - Organizational Leadership: Human Resources Management
      • Master of Business Admin - General Business
      • Master of Business Admin - Accelerated General MBA
      • MBA - Management
    Certificate
      • Education Specialist - Organizational Leadership
  • Online Programs Available
    3. Kaplan University

    Program Options

    Master's
      • MBA: Human Resources
      • Master: Management/Human Resources
      • MSM in Organizational Design and Development
      • Master : Business Admin
    Bachelor's
      • BSBA in Human Resources
      • Bachelor of Business Admin
      • BSBA - Investment
    Associate's
      • AASBA in Business
      • Associate: Business Admin.
      • Associate: Business Admin. - Office Mgmt
  • Online Programs Available
    4. George Mason University

    Program Options

    Master's
      • Master of Business Administration
  • Online Programs Available
    5. Regent University

    Program Options

    Doctorate
      • Ph.D. in Organizational Leadership
      • Ph.D. in Organizational Leadership - Ecclesial Leadership
      • Ph.D. in Organizational Leadership - Entrepreneurial Leadership
      • Ph.D. in Organizational Leadership - Individualized
      • Ph.D. in Organizational Leadership - Human Resource Development
    Master's
      • Master of Arts in Law - Human Resources Management
      • Master of Arts in Organizational Leadership
      • Master of Arts in Organizational Leadership - Futures Studies
      • Master of Arts in Organizational Leadership - HR Management
      • Master of Arts in Organizational Leadership - Interdisciplanry Studies
      • Master of Arts in Organizational Leadership - Kingdom Business
    Bachelor's
      • Bachelor of Science in Business - HR Management
      • Bachelor of Science in Business
      • Bachelor of Science in Professional Studies - Business
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      • Bachelor of Arts in English - Government
      • Bachelor of Arts in Government
  • Online Programs Available
    6. Colorado State University Global

    Program Options

    Master's
      • Master - Human Resource Management
      • MS - Management
      • MS - Organizational Leadership
    Bachelor's
      • BS - Human Resource Management
      • BS - Business Management
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    Certificate
      • Graduate Certificate - Human Resource Management
  • Online Programs Available
    7. Johns Hopkins University

    Program Options

    Master's
      • Master of Science in Government Analytics
  • Campus Locations:
    8. Virginia College

    Program Options

    Associate's
      • Associate's - Business Admin
    Certificate
      • Diploma Program - Business Administration
  • Online Programs Available
    9. University of Delaware

    Program Options

    Master's
      • Master of Business Administration
      • Master of Business Administration - Custom/General
      • Master of Business Administration - Multiple Concentrations
      • Master of Business Administration - Strategic Leadership
  • Campus Locations:
    10. Brightwood College

    Program Options

    Certificate
      • Applied Business Fundamentals

Featured Schools

American University

  • Master of Science in Human Resource Analytics and Management

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Northcentral University

  • Doctor of Business Admin - Human Resources Management
  • MBA - Human Resources Management
  • Education Specialist - Organizational Leadership

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Kaplan University

  • MBA: Human Resources
  • BSBA in Human Resources
  • AASBA in Business

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George Mason University

  • Master of Business Administration

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Regent University

  • Ph.D. in Organizational Leadership
  • Master of Arts in Law - Human Resources Management
  • Bachelor of Science in Business - HR Management

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Colorado State University Global

  • Master - Human Resource Management
  • BS - Human Resource Management
  • Graduate Certificate - Human Resource Management

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Johns Hopkins University

  • Master of Science in Government Analytics

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Virginia College

  • Associate's - Business Admin
  • Diploma Program - Business Administration

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