Human Resources Earnings, Part 1
The human resources field is exciting, challenging and brimming with career opportunities. High level, lucrative HR management positions are competitive – so candidates must possess sharp skills and up-to-date training in order to distinguish themselves from their peers.
In addition, many top employers prefer to hire HR specialists with proven credentials such as the Professional in Human Resources (PHR) or Senior Professional in Human Resources (SPHR) certification, offered by the Human Resources Certification Institute (HRCI).
An Overview of Human Resources Careers and Salaries
High-paying human resources management positions can be found in companies of all sizes, in every industry. Moving up through the ranks in an HR career can take you to job titles like HR Manager, HR Director or Benefits Director, as well as specialized positions like Training Director, VP of Recruiting and Training, Labor Relations Director, or Diversity and Inclusion Director.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) data from May, 2009 indicate an average HR manager salary of $105,510, while the top 10% earned upwards of $164,270. HR managers who’ve earned SPHR certification see their average salaries bump up as far as $109,025, according to national data on PayScale.com in November, 2010. Certification may also position HR managers to apply for even higher-paying positions with added responsibilities. The data shows that certification can really pay off.
For highly-trained and certified human resources directors, an average compensation package can be as high as $219,224, according to reported data on Salary.com in November, 2010. Base salaries were reported at $146,710, with bonuses around $20,000; additional benefits totaled approximately $52,514, making HR director a lucrative career goal.
Benefits director positions can also offer attractive salaries for HR management professionals with in-demand credentials and training. According to Salary.com in November, 2010 the median U.S. benefits director salary was $118,554. Those in the 75th percentile earned about $143,187, while the top 10% brought in upwards of $165,614.
Many HR managers specialize in the area of employee recruiting, training and development. This position often requires education and certification beyond a bachelor’s degree – but the effort can result in higher pay. Salary.com indicated in November 2010 that the average U.S. training director salary was $126,530. The highest-paid 10% brought in upwards of $170,072, according to Salary.com. And for VP of Recruiting and Training jobs, PayScale.com reported an average total pay range of $100,219 to $202,750 in November, 2010 (including salary, bonus and profit sharing).
Labor relations directors are highly knowledgeable in labor issues, negotiation and legislation. In many companies, they are well compensated, senior-level HR managers. According to national data on Salary.com in November, 2010, salaries for this position range from a minimum base of $87,869 to upwards of $177,879 for the top 10%. The median salary for labor relations directors was an attractive $131,558.
For professionals with advanced education and training in niche areas, human resources salary ranges can exceed the $200,000 mark. For example, diversity and inclusion is a specialty HR management field that combines a challenging job description with higher-than-average pay ranges. Salary.com data for November, 2010 indicate the top 10% of diversity executives earned upwards of $241,042, while the median salary was reported at $146,407. A sample job listing on AOLjobs.com in November 2010 reveals a VP of Diversity and Inclusion starting salary of $150,000 to $180,000, with a bonus of $20,000, and additional benefits and incentives.
Benefits of HR Certification and Advanced Degrees
Earning PHR or SPHR certification by the HRCI can boost your HR career – no matter what your current level of education. Top employers often accept certification in lieu of years of HR experience, because they know that HRCI certified professionals have the advanced human resources training and up-to-date education that helps their organization compete in a challenging business environment.
Preparing to take the PHR or SPHR certification exam involves honing skills in six areas that top employers deem most valuable:
- Strategic Business Management
- Workforce Planning and Employment
- Human Resource Development
- Total Rewards
- Employee and Labor Relations
- Risk Management
Becoming certified at any step of your HR management career is well worth considering, whether you are looking to update your training and advance with your current employer or wish to broaden your scope of skills and compete for a higher-level position. Many senior HR management jobs require a bachelor’s degree plus several years of experience or certification, while the top-level HR executive positions typically require at least a master’s degree in human resources as well as certification.
PHR/SPHR certified professionals have expertise to help organizations avoid risk, attract and retain the best employees, and plan for a profitable future. Adding a credential like certification to a bachelor’s degree can open doors to previously-unattainable, high-level positions. And for master’s degree seekers, certification can augment a strong foundation in human resources or business administration when you’re ready to compete for top HR positions.
Read Human Resources Earnings, Part 2