Human Resource Salary

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Human resource management has evolved significantly over the past 20 years. Instead of directing efforts on administrative tasks such as record keeping, payroll, and employee benefit administration (many of these responsibilities are now outsourced), today’s HR management professionals are more focused on business strategies, talent management, and leadership development activities. This means that earnings for these skilled professionals are better than ever.

Companies and organizations now view HR management professionals as crucial to remaining competitive in the “war for talent” – talent that is needed to support a successful enterprise. In a recent survey, the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) found that nearly 8 in 10 employer respondents said that putting in place the most effective talent management strategy is the key to competitive success and nearly 60 percent believe that HR will continue to grow in strategic importance.

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SHRM also reports that salary growth among human resources professionals relies on capitalizing on the heightened need for specialized skills. In other words, educated and trained human resource management professionals who can cultivate the employer-employee relationship and locate and retain the best and brightest talent are, perhaps, a company’s most valuable resource. The value these skilled managers bring to their enterprises is evident in the level of compensation they are awarded.

Human Resource Salary Statistics

The median total cash compensation (including base salary and variable compensation, such as bonuses and incentives) for all HR positions increased an average of 3.6 percent in 2013 over the previous year.

(Unless otherwise noted, all salary data shown here was originally published in the 2013 Human Resources Compensation Survey Report-US by Towers Watson.)

Salaries for HR Executives

With the trend toward the highly skilled HR professional, it comes as no surprise that top HR executives with labor relations responsibilities earned the highest average salaries in 2013, at $311,800, an increase of 4.2 percent over 2012 ($299,100).

Top HR executives without labor relations experience earned significantly less at $262,000 in 2013, an increase of 3.1 percent over 2012 earnings.

Most human resource management executives earned between 1 and 4 percent more in 2013 than they did in 2012. Those with expertise in the following areas saw the largest salary increases between 2012 and 2013:

  • Legal compliance
  • Workplace safety
  • Talent management
  • Technology
  • Equal employment opportunity
  • Information systems

For example:

  • HR executives with expertise in equal employment opportunity – Median total cash compensation of $156,300 in 2013, an increase of 15.1 percent over 2012
  • HR safety executives – Median total cash compensation of $167,100, an increase of 13.2 percent over 2012
  • HR executives in information systems – Median total cash compensation of $175,000 in 2013, an increase of 6.1 percent from a year prior

Other top-paying HR executive positions in 2013, according to the Tower Watson survey, included:

  • Talent management executive: $234,900
  • Compensation and benefits executive: $232,000
  • Employee/labor relations executive: $195,500
  • Compensation executive: $183,000
  • Training and development executive: $179,400
  • Benefits executive: $168,200
  • Safety executive: $167,100

The data shown here represents the US Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics full analysis of salaries for human resources managers employed throughout the US (2014):

Area name
Employment
Annual mean wage
Alabama
1210
96060
Alaska
190
109070
Arizona
2250
102690
Arkansas
710
93010
California
15300
126350
Colorado
1410
133740
Connecticut
2070
130980
Delaware
320
136250
District of Columbia
1420
140070
Florida
3840
109920
Georgia
3860
108870
Guam
80
53320
Hawaii
500
86050
Idaho
560
87060
Illinois
6780
102720
Indiana
1890
101490
Iowa
1320
91890
Kansas
990
97140
Kentucky
1610
89600
Louisiana
1430
80300
Maine
500
90350
Maryland
1920
131270
Massachusetts
4220
119410
Michigan
3750
97390
Minnesota
3960
109230
Mississippi
820
77870
Missouri
2070
108560
Montana
150
87980
Nebraska
530
111950
Nevada
770
102000
New Hampshire
510
109770
New Jersey
3590
144280
New Mexico
470
91670
New York
9510
135370
North Carolina
3500
119760
North Dakota
200
97540
Ohio
4230
105270
Oklahoma
1420
83840
Oregon
1940
94990
Pennsylvania
3400
129070
Puerto Rico
1020
69020
Rhode Island
330
131490
South Carolina
1460
95450
South Dakota
210
94140
Tennessee
2600
86760
Texas
6640
121580
Utah
860
97350
Vermont
180
110760
Virgin Islands
40
74370
Virginia
3130
124720
Washington
2990
114830
West Virginia
330
82900
Wisconsin
2620
98730
Wyoming
140
96420

* These values represent an hourly pay rate that is at or above $90/hr and an annual salary that is at or above $187,199/yr. The US Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics does not report earnings beyond $90/hr and $187,199/yr.

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Salaries for HR Specialists and Generalists

Shown below is salary information from a 2013 SHRM article that uses data from the 2013 General Industry Human Resources Compensation Survey Report-U.S. by Towers Watson.

Non-executive HR professionals also experienced increases in compensation, although not at the same level as their executive counterparts. For example, the total median cash compensation for HR generalists/consultants was $74,700 in 2013, an increase of 3.8 percent over 2012.

Health and safety HR professionals saw the largest increase among non-executive human resource management professionals between 2012 and 2013, with a median total cash compensation of $73,800 in 2013, an increase of 8.7 percent over 2012.

HR professionals in executive compensation also fared well, with a median total cash compensation of $110,700 in 2013, a 6.1 percent increase over 2012.

Other top-paying job classifications for non-executive HR professionals in 2013 included:

  • Compensation and benefits (generalist): $101,500
  • Labor relations: $100,200
  • Organizational development: $96,800
  • Recruitment- management: $89,900
  • Environmental, health, and safety generalist: $85,000
  • Employee relations: $83,200
  • Compensation generalist: $81,900

The data shown here represents the US Department of Labor’s full analysis of salaries for human resources specialists employed throughout the US (2014):

Area name
Employment
Annual mean wage
Alabama
4670
57970
Alaska
1140
64010
Arizona
9210
57480
Arkansas
2490
49010
California
50790
71260
Colorado
9330
65700
Connecticut
5750
67290
Delaware
1590
64390
District of Columbia
6640
88540
Florida
26420
54210
Georgia
14650
56980
Guam
140
45830
Hawaii
1600
58530
Idaho
1540
54350
Illinois
17210
61530
Indiana
9900
53300
Iowa
4150
52700
Kansas
4210
57050
Kentucky
5310
54530
Louisiana
3160
52010
Maine
1190
55080
Maryland
10080
72040
Massachusetts
13140
69630
Michigan
12230
57480
Minnesota
12180
57980
Mississippi
2230
48180
Missouri
8700
56280
Montana
1280
51750
Nebraska
3150
53790
Nevada
2730
53510
New Hampshire
1900
58450
New Jersey
12070
69550
New Mexico
2520
57080
New York
29000
69840
North Carolina
13540
60170
North Dakota
1010
54720
Ohio
17080
57350
Oklahoma
4660
52140
Oregon
5520
58550
Pennsylvania
19630
64720
Puerto Rico
2420
35710
Rhode Island
1240
63960
South Carolina
5640
53160
South Dakota
1040
49900
Tennessee
7300
53910
Texas
40840
63400
Utah
4730
58220
Vermont
870
60290
Virgin Islands
100
47020
Virginia
17360
69830
Washington
11900
68130
West Virginia
1470
57560
Wisconsin
9380
54670
Wyoming
810
53790

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The data shown here represents the US Department of Labor’s full analysis of salaries for compensation and benefits specialists employed throughout the US (2014):

Area name
Employment
Annual mean wage
Alabama
470
57830
Alaska
160
70440
Arizona
1510
56730
Arkansas
620
47830
California
11840
70500
Colorado
1000
69220
Connecticut
1360
69120
Delaware
160
73690
District of Columbia
690
78370
Florida
3010
56560
Georgia
2350
63830
Hawaii
180
54130
Idaho
210
59580
Illinois
2180
62650
Indiana
1020
56010
Iowa
580
64900
Kansas
620
58870
Kentucky
800
56750
Louisiana
Estimate Not Released
45780
Maine
290
51210
Maryland
1730
65890
Massachusetts
3150
71800
Michigan
1550
60490
Minnesota
2080
66160
Mississippi
370
48670
Missouri
1340
62470
Montana
190
53800
Nebraska
600
64660
Nevada
340
62450
New Hampshire
270
61500
New Jersey
2430
75540
New Mexico
230
59260
New York
10280
68860
North Carolina
2380
59690
North Dakota
120
54770
Ohio
2860
59640
Oklahoma
800
53060
Oregon
770
61190
Pennsylvania
3670
62600
Puerto Rico
250
38840
Rhode Island
240
68550
South Carolina
960
52850
South Dakota
540
49520
Tennessee
1210
55220
Texas
5860
64990
Utah
470
56890
Vermont
230
59490
Virginia
2300
64680
Washington
1670
73770
West Virginia
380
53150
Wisconsin
1660
53850
Wyoming
70
54150

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The data shown here represents the US Department of Labor’s full analysis of salaries for labor relations specialists employed throughout the US (2014):

Area name
Employment
Annual mean wage
Alabama
1100
45100
Alaska
220
86220
Arizona
540
55950
Arkansas
530
49520
California
9040
78090
Colorado
600
64490
Connecticut
1010
49460
Delaware
400
60140
District of Columbia
370
75130
Florida
2810
55330
Georgia
730
58650
Hawaii
450
57700
Idaho
200
48060
Illinois
4810
57200
Indiana
2660
47370
Iowa
980
45010
Kansas
330
52890
Kentucky
1370
45530
Louisiana
240
48610
Maine
200
63040
Maryland
1310
52360
Massachusetts
2450
69900
Michigan
3790
56930
Minnesota
1730
72370
Mississippi
270
48940
Missouri
1350
66770
Montana
150
58630
Nebraska
370
54280
Nevada
450
52740
New Hampshire
140
53990
New Jersey
3630
74900
New Mexico
280
52530
New York
8490
75720
North Carolina
870
48380
North Dakota
70
58640
Ohio
6700
35940
Oklahoma
200
61980
Oregon
1580
67030
Pennsylvania
5400
46080
Puerto Rico
220
41290
Rhode Island
520
68460
South Carolina
350
64930
Tennessee
840
51450
Texas
2230
75390
Utah
340
48820
Vermont
120
68030
Virginia
1250
59550
Washington
2110
72670
West Virginia
540
45490
Wisconsin
3520
29000
Wyoming
90
60930

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Incentives and Performance-Based Rewards Programs

Shown below is salary information from a 2013 SHRM article that uses data from the 2013 General Industry Human Resources Compensation Survey Report-U.S. by Towers Watson.

Incentive- and performance-based rewards programs (often referred to as short-term incentives – STIs) are commonplace among human resource management professionals. Many STIs include bonuses tied to performance.

For example, 81 percent of compensation and benefits executives earned STIs in 2013, according to the Tower Watson survey, while 79 percent of talent management executives received STIs during the same period.

The following percentage of HR executives in other specialized positions received STIs in 2013:

  • HR executives without labor relations: 75 percent
  • HR executives with labor relations: 72 percent
  • Compensation executives: 71 percent
  • Employment/recruitment executives: 68 percent
  • Training and development executives: 68 percent
  • Employee/labor relations executives: 65 percent
  • Benefits executives: 64 percent

To be expected, lower-level HR professionals earned fewer STIs than their executive counterparts. For example, about 50 percent of human resource management professionals in organizational development earned STIs in 2013, while 53 percent of compensation and benefits generalists received STIs during the same time.

The following percentage of HR professionals (non-executive) received STIs in 2013:

  • Compensation generalist: 49 percent
  • Employee relations: 49 percent
  • Worker’s compensation case management: 48 percent
  • Human resources generalist: 47 percent
  • Benefits: 46 percent

Factors Affecting Salaries for Human Resource Management Professionals

Experts all agree that education, certification, and other forms of training are the key to higher salaries among human resource professionals.

Bachelor’s degrees for human resources professionals often include a Bachelor of Arts (BA), Bachelor of Science (BS), or a Bachelor of Business Administration (BBA) in Human Resources or Human Resource Management. Bachelor’s-prepared professionals in human resource management also often possess degrees in areas such as business administration, business management, finance, communications, and marketing.

Master’s degrees in human resources, often seen as a necessary component for achieving senior- or executive-level HR positions, may be in the form of a Master of Arts (MA), Master of Science (MS), or Master of Business Administration (MBA) in Human Resource Management.

Most institutions offer a number of HR specialization tracks, thereby allowing students to focus their graduate program on a specific area of human resources, such as labor relations, equal opportunity employment, or compensation and benefits.

In addition to a degree, HR managers, directors, and other senior-level HR professionals often pursue certification of this kind as a way to improve their mastery of the HR field and command higher salaries.

    • Society of Human Resource Management (SHRM)
      • SHRM-CP (certified professional)
      • SHRM-SCP (senior certified professional)
  • HR Certification Institute (HRCI)
    • Professional in Human Resources (PHR)
    • Senior Professional in Human Resources (SPHR)
    • Global Professional in Human Resources (GPHR)
    • Human Resource Management Professional (HRMP)
    • Human Resource Business Professional (HRBP)
    • California Certification for PHR and SPHR certified professionals

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