Human Resources Managers

Career, Salary and Education Information

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What Human Resources Managers Do[About this section] [To Top]

Human resources managers plan, direct, and coordinate the administrative functions of an organization. They oversee the recruiting, interviewing, and hiring of new staff; consult with top executives on strategic planning; and serve as a link between an organization’s management and its employees.

Duties of Human Resources Managers

Human resources managers typically do the following:

  • Plan and coordinate an organization’s workforce to best use employees’ talents
  • Link an organization’s management with its employees
  • Plan and oversee employee benefit programs
  • Serve as a consultant with other managers advising them on human resource issues, such as equal employment opportunity and sexual harassment
  • Coordinate and supervise the work of specialists and support staff
  • Oversee an organization’s recruitment, interview, selection, and hiring processes
  • Handle staffing issues, such as mediating disputes and directing disciplinary procedures

Every organization wants to attract, motivate, and keep qualified employees and match them to jobs for which they are well suited. Human resources managers accomplish this by directing the administrative functions of human resource departments. Their work involves overseeing employee relations, regulatory compliance, and employee-related services such as payroll, training, and benefits. They supervise the department’s specialists and support staff and ensure that tasks are completed accurately and on time.

Human resources managers also consult with top executives regarding the organization’s strategic planning. They identify ways to maximize the value of the organization’s employees and ensure that they are used as efficiently as possible. For example, they might assess worker productivity and recommend changes to the organization’s structure to help it meet budgetary goals.

Some human resources managers oversee all aspects of an organization’s human resources department, including the compensation and benefits or training and development programs. In many larger organizations, these programs are directed by specialized managers, such as compensation and benefits managers and training and development managers.

The following are examples of types of human resources managers:

Labor relations directors, also called employee relations managers, oversee employment policies in union and nonunion settings. They draw up, negotiate, and administer labor contracts that cover issues such as grievances, wages, benefits, and union and management practices. They also handle labor complaints between employees and management and coordinate grievance procedures.

Payroll managers supervise the operations of an organization’s payroll department. They ensure that all aspects of payroll are processed correctly and on time. They administer payroll procedures, prepare reports for the accounting department, and resolve any payroll problems or discrepancies.

Recruiting managers, sometimes called staffing managers, oversee the recruiting and hiring responsibilities of the human resources department. They often supervise a team of recruiters, and some take on recruiting duties when trying to fill high-level positions. They must develop a recruiting strategy that helps them meet the staffing needs of their organization and effectively compete for the best employees.

Work Environment for Human Resources Managers[About this section] [To Top]

Human resources managers held about 122,500 jobs in 2014. The industries that employed the most human resources managers were as follows:

Management of companies and enterprises 15%
Manufacturing 14
Professional, scientific, and technical services 12
Government 10
Healthcare and social assistance 10

Human resources managers work in offices. Some managers, especially those working for organizations that have offices nationwide, must travel to visit other branches as well as to attend professional meetings or to recruit employees.

Human Resources Manager Work Schedules

Most human resources managers work full time during regular business hours.

About 1 in 3 human resources managers worked more than 40 hours per week in 2014.

How to Become a Human Resources Manager[About this section] [To Top]

Get the education you need: Find schools for Human Resources Managers near you!

Candidates need a combination of education and several years of related work experience to become a human resources manager. Although a bachelor’s degree is sufficient for most positions, some jobs require a master’s degree. Candidates should have strong interpersonal skills.

Human Resources Manager Education

Human resources managers usually need a bachelor’s degree. There are bachelor’s degree programs in human resources. Alternatively, candidates may complete a bachelor’s degree in another field, such as finance, business management, education, or information technology. Courses in subjects such as conflict management or industrial psychology may be helpful.

Some higher-level jobs require a master’s degree in human resources, labor relations, or business administration (MBA).

Work Experience in a Related Occupation

To demonstrate abilities in organizing, directing, and leading others, related work experience is essential for human resources managers. Some managers start out as human resources specialists or labor relations specialists. Others gain management experience in a variety of fields.

Management positions typically require an understanding of human resources programs, such as compensation and benefits plans; human resources software; and federal, state, and local employment laws.

Licenses, Certifications, and Registrations

Although certification is voluntary, it can show professional expertise and credibility and may enhance advancement opportunities. Many employers prefer to hire certified candidates, and some positions may require certification. The Society for Human Resource Management, Human Resource Certification Institute, WorldatWork, and the International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans are among many professional associations that offer a variety of certification programs.

Important Qualities for Human Resources Managers

Decisionmaking skills. Human resources managers must be able to balance the strengths and weaknesses of different options and decide the best course of action. Many of their decisions have a significant impact on workers or operations, such as deciding whether to hire an employee.

Interpersonal skills. Human resources managers need strong interpersonal skills because they regularly interact with people. They often collaborate on teams and must develop positive working relationships with their colleagues.

Leadership skills. Human resources managers must be able to direct a staff and oversee the operations of their department. They must coordinate work activities and ensure that workers in the department complete their duties and fulfill their responsibilities.

Organizational skills. Organizational skills are essential for human resources managers. They must be able to prioritize tasks and manage several projects at once.

Speaking skills. Human resources managers rely on strong speaking skills to give presentations and direct their staff. They must clearly communicate information and instructions to their staff and other employees.

Human Resources Manager Salaries[About this section] [More salary/earnings info] [To Top]

The median annual wage for human resources managers was $104,440 in May 2015. The median wage is the wage at which half the workers in an occupation earned more than that amount and half earned less. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $61,300, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $187,200.

In May 2015, the median annual wages for human resources managers in the top industries in which they worked were as follows:

Management of companies and enterprises $118,320
Professional, scientific, and technical services 117,640
Manufacturing 100,710
Government 94,280
Healthcare and social assistance 89,090

Most human resources managers work full time during regular business hours.

About 1 in 3 human resources managers worked more than 40 hours per week in 2014.

Job Outlook for Human Resources Managers[About this section] [To Top]

Employment of human resources managers is projected to grow 9 percent from 2014 to 2024, faster than the average for all occupations.;

Employment growth largely depends on the performance and growth of individual companies. As new companies form and organizations expand their operations, they will need more human resources managers to oversee and administer their programs.

Human resources managers will also be needed to ensure that firms adhere to changing and complex employment laws regarding occupational safety and health, equal employment opportunity, healthcare, wages, and retirement plans. For example, adoption of the Affordable Care Act may spur the need for more human resources managers, who can help to ensure that company policies are in compliance with regulations.

Human Resources Managers Job Prospects

Although job opportunities are expected to vary based on the staffing needs of individual companies, strong competition can be expected for most positions.

Job opportunities should be good in the management of companies and enterprises industry as organizations continue to use outside firms to assist with some of their human resources functions.

Candidates with certification or a master’s degree—particularly those with a concentration in human resources management—should have the best job prospects.

Those with a solid background and work experience in human resources programs, policies, and employment law should also have better job opportunities.

Employment projections data for Human Resources Managers, 2014-24
Occupational Title Employment, 2014 Projected Employment, 2024 Change, 2014-24
Percent Numeric
Human resources managers 122,500 133,300 9 10,800


*Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor. Used by permission.

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