The term “human resources” is a huge career category. It has multiple job titles, job descriptions, and functions. Every post—be it an HR director, manager, or generalist—has its own (and sometimes overlapping) set of responsibilities and challenges.
If you’re wondering about a career in HR, you’ll have to consider a few factors. You especially want to consider the salaries that go along with every job title.
Unfortunately, you won’t find any clear-cut answers when determining human resources salaries since they depend on your position and experience, among other factors. But there are ways to decide whether HR is indeed the right career path for you, as well as negotiate a more fitting salary.
Why Do Human Resources Salaries Matter?
Making a good career choice involves understanding the earning potential. Think about it: if your salary isn’t enough, how will you meet the cost of living where you live? How will you pay your rent? Get groceries? Survive?
You want to know whether your chosen career path is lucrative enough to pay off any investment you make in education and can help afford the lifestyle you want for your loved ones and yourself.
Moreover, HR salaries vary greatly depending on various factors. For instance, while the average base salary for an HR generalist is $58,240 per year, an HR specialist makes $47,397 annually. So if you have a minimum salary amount you want to make, you’ll know which HR jobs to apply for.
What Does Success Look Like
Everyone dreams of getting high-paying jobs. It’s human psychology.
While you may not have unrealistic salary expectations when applying for HR positions, scoring a job that offers you a salary you think you deserve—or perhaps even higher—certainly doesn’t hurt.
You should know how to ask for competitive compensation—be it on behalf of your company or for yourself. But you can’t negotiate effectively if you don’t know how much you should get, after considering the industry minimum and your experience, expertise, and certifications, of course.
When you know what a job title’s worth, you’ll know whether you’re being offered a fair deal or not. If your potential employer isn’t offering fair compensation, you can look for other jobs that do. If you’re getting fair compensation, you’ll know how to negotiate without sounding unrealistic or arrogant if you see room for negotiation.
Knowing industry-standard salaries will help you identify jobs that are good for you and your family, as well as weeding out companies with low-paying HR jobs.
This will streamline your job searching process, allowing you to use the extra time and focus on the quality of your job application. Try to submit tailored applications according to the stated job requirements. In turn, this will improve your chances of securing an interview with the company.
According to a Societya for Human Resource Management Employee Job Satisfaction and Engagement survey, employees rated compensation as the third most important aspect of job satisfaction.
When you’re happy with your salary, you’re automatically more motivated and have higher morale. You’ll feel a sense of security and accomplishment, which makes you more willing to put in extra hours and meet your deadlines. You don’t feel tired, overworked, or resentful and actually want to set high work standards as a trade-off for the higher financial rewards.
After all, higher salaries do tend to incentivize a culture of high output.
It’s understood that when any company offers a higher salary, they value you and your skills, giving you that satisfaction and respect everyone psychologically seeks.
The other prominent advantage is that you won’t feel the need to jump jobs anytime soon. An employee who feels their company isn’t paying them a high enough salary is more likely to look for and accept a higher-paying position of a comparable nature at another company.
When you get the salary you think you deserve, you’re likely to be more satisfied with your job and won’t feel the need to look for a similar job with better pay elsewhere.
In April 2015, Dan Price, the owner and CEO of Gravity Payments, made an announcement that shocked the world: he decided to cut his salary from $1.1 million to just $70,000. He did this to fund a paycheck raise for his employees. What’s more, Price also increased the minimum salary of his workers to $70,000.
As expected, this decision was met with mixed reactions. While some praised Price, others criticized him, watching with anticipation to see how he would fail.
The wage increase actually started back in 2012. Price decided to give a 20% raise to his staff after hearing an angry outburst from an employee. To his surprise, profits rose despite the significant pay raise, so much so he gave his employees another 20% raise.
The driving factor behind these profits? A staggering 30% to 40% increase in productivity. By 2014, the company was clocking in $2.2 million, customer inquiries jumped from about 30 a month to 2,000, and was inundated with a steady stream of resumes.
One Secret Weapon to Master Human Resources Management
While you’re focusing on increasing your salary, you shouldn’t forget about your team. After all, the only way to get higher pay (and retain it) is proving you’re indeed worthy of it.
We highly recommend implementing an HR software tool to equip your team with critical tools that can help the company thrive. Once you start delivering results, you’ll have more authority to demand that pay hike.
Paycom offers an excellent range of performance management tools. You can use them to create a library of positions with assigned competencies and salaries, as well as to assign performance goals by similar responsibilities and skills. The fact it has highly efficient customer support is another benefit.
3 Essential Strategies for Raising Your Human Resources Salary
Use the tips below to position yourself as a candidate, deserving of a higher HR salary.
Get a Specialized HR Degree
Getting a specialized HR degree will make you a more competitive candidate in the employer’s eyes. Here are a few degrees that have been found to boost salaries, such as:
- Human resources
- Business administration
We also recommend getting a Master’s degree. Not many HR professionals hold a Master’s degree, which is why having Masters-level education on your resume will instantly set you apart from other candidates.
Plus, getting this education will give you more knowledge and expertise to reach the top of the HR ladder, along with the ability to handle an advanced career in human resources.
Change Your Niche Industry
Another tactic to ramp up your HR salary is reconsidering the industry you’re currently working in or looking to work in.
Every industry needs a solid HR department with highly efficient people holding various positions, but there’s a notable difference in salaries from one industry to another. For example, HR managers working in the banking or software sector get higher pay than, say, a consultancy or marketing company.
According to a Bureau of Labor Statistics study, the security and commodity niche was the top-paying industry for HR managers in 2021, where individuals averaged around $184,500 per year. R&D and central banking are other industries that pay their HR managers well, with the average salary being $183,000 and $180,000, respectively.
That said, the number of vacancies in these industries is very limited. Case in point: currently, only 50 HR managers work in central banks. So you can either opt for a higher-paying and hence, highly competitive industry or set your sights high and work to get where you want to be.
Get HR-Specific Certifications
Procuring additional HR certification is a tried-and-tested way of commanding a higher salary for your HR position. What’s more, you’ll find tons of certifications available that can genuinely enhance your knowledge and skill sets.
The HR Certification Institute (HRCI) is a leading choice for HR managers to help them take their expertise to the next level.
An HRCI certification equips you with proven levels of skills and knowledge, as well as the competence necessary to eliminate operational bottlenecks and drive business results. With an HRCI certification in hand, you can prove to your employer that you have taken steps to strengthen your HR knowledge and skill set and establish your authority over your competitors.
The other equally good option is to get an HR certification from the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM).
Here’s a list of the most prominent human resources certification you can consider to increase your salary:
- Associate Professional in Human Resources (aPHR)
- Professional in Human Resources (PHR)
- SHRM Certified Professional (SHRM-CP)
- SHRM Senior Certified Professional (SHRM-SCP)
- Senior Professional in Human Resources (SPHR)
We’ve discussed the above five certifications in more detail in our article titled Human Resources Certification: Everything to Know. Check it out to learn more about how to earn these certifications and prepare for HR exams.
Most Common Mistakes People Make When Asking for a Salary Hike
In a perfect world, we’ll be compensated fairly—sometimes even more than our expectations—for our work and receive raises whenever we do well in our jobs without asking.
Unfortunately, the real world doesn’t work like that. You have to ask for what is rightly yours. Those who don’t ask, don’t get. Read on as we list tips that can improve your chances of scoring that salary bump.
- Asking for a raise when you don’t deserve it: Asking for a higher salary after your boss informs you about your performance hasn’t been up to the mark isn’t ever going to work. You’re only likely to get a raise when your hard work improves your company’s bottom line and not a second sooner. Make sure you’ve been crushing your quotas and hitting all deadlines consistently before asking for a raise.
- Using email or a phone call to discuss a potential pay hike: You may regularly communicate with your superiors via phone or email. But when it comes to discussing a potential salary increase, stick to face-to-face conversations. Otherwise, your request may not be taken seriously and be deemed unimportant. The best way forward is to schedule a meeting in person and orally communicate your pay hike request.
- Not leveraging the company‘s best interest in mind while negotiating: You have to be clear about how you’ve added value in a quantifiable job. This can be determined using parameters other than money as well. For instance, if the satisfaction standard is 3.5 and you’ve consistently scored 4.5, you can leverage that when asking for a raise. Similarly, you shouldn’t demand a salary hike during a budget crisis or an ongoing financial crunch. We all know what the answer will be.
While knowing human resources salary can help you find a suitable job, you’ll still need to keep certain tactics and strategies in mind to ensure your employers deem you worthy of higher pay. That said, stay positive and keep working on yourself. You’ll surely receive your dream HR salary in no time.