In a nutshell: Human resources managers help individuals and organizations thrive. Here’s what the job entails, what it pays and what you need to know.


Are you interested in helping businesses reach their goals as much as you are in helping employees reach their potential? If so, you should consider a role as a human resources (HR) manager. While job duties vary by employer, HR managers generally liaise between employees and management. They plan, direct and coordinate the administrative functions of companies. Responsibilities can include recruitment and staffing, organizational departmental planning, performance management, compensation and benefits administration, employment law consultation and preparing company policies and procedures.

All organizations require a human resources function, whether it’s a for-profit corporation, privately owned company or nonprofit organization. HR managers report to upper management and work closely with other department heads to resolve (or proactively remedy) employee issues. Read on to learn about what you can expect being an HR manager.

Human Resources Manager Salary Range and Job Outlook

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), human resources managers earned a median salary of $106,910 in 2016. The highest 10% of workers earned more than $193,550. (Your earning potential might differ based on geography, educational attainment and employment industry, among other factors.)

The BLS projects employment growth of 9% through 2026 for HR managers, which is about as fast as the average for all occupations.

As new organizations form, HR managers will be in demand to oversee the human resources function. Additionally, as employment laws regarding occupational safety and health, equal employment opportunity, healthcare, wages and retirement plans change, HR managers will be needed.

There is strong competition for HR manager positions, and those with a master’s degree or human resources certifications will have the most job prospects.

Recommended Education for Human Resources Managers

HR managers typically need a bachelor’s degree to land the position. Although a concentration in human resources may be valuable to some employers, other fields like finance, business management, education or information technology, are usually acceptable. Courses in conflict management, industrial psychology and organizational development will be helpful for the role. For higher-level positions, a master’s degree in human resources or a master’s in business administration (MBA) may be required.

Beyond a college education, employers may favor candidates with a human resources certification. This is something to consider after work experience in the field to continue your education and further your professional development. The professional in human resources (PHR), senior professional in human resources (SPHR) and global professional in human resources (GPHR) certifications will make you more marketable. There are multiple professional associations that offer certification programs, including the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) and the HR Certification Institute (HRCI).

Required Knowledge and Skills for Human Resources Managers

For HR manager positions, candidates must understand compensation and benefits plans, human resources software and federal, state and local employment laws. These knowledge requirements can be gained through experience and education.

Important qualities that HR managers should possess include:

  • Decision-making skills
  • Interpersonal skills
  • Problem-solving skills
  • Leadership skills
  • Organizational skills
  • Public speaking skills
  • Negotiation skills
  • Communication (verbal and written) skills

If both business administration and human behavior are interesting to you, consider a career in human resources management. These basics should get you started on the right path.

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