How to Become a

Human Resources Specialist (HR)

The complete career guide to be a Human Resources Specialist (HR): salary, job growth, employers, best schools, and education you may need to get started.

Why We Love It

  • $65,100
    Potential Avg. Salary
  • 4%
    Job Growth Rate
  • Growing Demand
    Job Outlook
  • Dependable Daily Workload
    Career Attribute

Human resources specialists handle all aspects of hiring and employee relations. They recruit promising candidates, conduct early interviews, refer candidates to hiring managers, and orient employees once hired. They also frequently handle administrative tasks like benefits maintenance and payroll.

Recommended Schools

What is a Human Resources Specialist (HR)?

The following job responsibilities are common for individuals in human resource specialist roles:

  • Maintain hiring boards and open role announcements: secure job descriptions from hiring managers, post open positions, sort through received applications, forward promising resumes to hiring managers, and close filled positions
  • Conduct orientations sessions for incoming new hires to ensure new employees have the information they need to conduct their roles and enroll in benefits
  • Work with current and former employees to answer questions, resolve issues, and investigate complaints
  • Ensure companies are adhering to all federal, local, and industry-specific laws and regulations
  • Perform administrative work like benefits and payroll setup and administration

A Day in the Life

Human resources specialists serve as a liaison between an employer its and potential, current, and former employees. They work with employees to answer questions about employment and benefits, investigate complaints, and attempt to resolve issues. They’re responsible for ensuring that all company policies adhere to federal, state, local, and industry-specific requirements, and they may conduct training sessions for employees and leadership on topics like discrimination and sexual harassment.

One major responsibility of a human resources specialist is assisting with hiring. Human resources specialists work with hiring managers to receive notifications of open positions and obtain job descriptions. They release open role announcements through a variety of mediums—through company job boards, third-party job boards, newspapers, and other mediums—and do a first pass on all resumes received. They then forward resumes on to managers for review, and they may make the hiring offer.

In some organizations, human resource specialists are also responsible for administration of benefits and payroll. They may work with payroll providers to submit employee timesheets, and they may work with benefits providers to establish benefit programs for employees—health insurance, retirement plans, etc. They also commonly field benefit- and payroll-related questions from current and former employees, and they often teach new employees how to understand and enroll in benefits after hire.

Typical Work Schedule

Most human resource specialists work full-time during normal business hours. They are usually off of work in evenings, on weekends, and for all major holidays.

Human Resource Specialist Specializations

  • Generalists typically are employed as human resource specialists for a single company and perform all related responsibilities of the position for that company and its employees.
  • Recruiters are human resource specialists that specialize in filling open positions for hiring managers and companies. These specialists may work for an individual company, or they may work for an employment agency that specializes in providing companies with contractors.

Career Progression

  • Early Career: Human Resources Specialist, Human Resources Generalist, Recruiter
  • Mid-Career: Human Resources Manager, Recruitment Manager
  • Late Career: Human Resources Director, Recruitment Director

Typical Employers

Most human resources specialists are employed by either employment agencies as recruiters, or they work as generalists in the following industries: government, healthcare, manufacturing, and technology. However, most companies keep at least one human resources specialist on staff, so professionals may work in any industry.

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How To Become a Human Resources Specialist (HR)

A bachelor’s degree is usually required in order to work as a human resources specialist. Majors specifically in human resources administration are common, though business administration, psychology, and other related degrees may be sufficient. Often, professional experience in a related field may also be required to become a generalist. Working as an assistant in a human resources department, in a call center or other customer service role, or participating in a relevant internship may be sufficient experience to secure human resources generalist roles.

For recruiters, some sales or marketing experience and background can be helpful. Recruiters may earn a salary, but they’re also commonly paid commissions when placing new contractors or employees in open roles. For this reasons, recruiters must be adept at working with people, maintaining good working relationships, and striking up conversations with strangers. Recruiters use a variety of tools to solicit promising candidates, such as their own job boards, third-party boards, and LinkedIn.

With many years of experience, human resources generalists and recruiters may be able to advance into higher-paying leadership positions as managers or directors. However, more companies are increasingly requiring managers and directors to hold graduate degrees, so many aspiring human resource managers and directors often follow up their undergraduate degree by pursuing a master of business administration (MBA) or other relevant graduate degree. This allows aspiring human resource managers and directors to increase advancement opportunities later in their careers.

Human Resources Specialist (HR) Salary Data

We’ve provided you the following to learn more about this career. The salary and growth data on this page comes from recently published Bureau of Labor Statistics data while the recommendations and editorial content are based on our research.

National Anual Salary

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High Range


National Hourly Wage

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High Range


How do Human Resources Specialist (HR) salaries stack up to other jobs across the country? Based on the latest jobs data nationwide, Human Resources Specialist (HR)'s can make an average annual salary of $65,100, or $31 per hour. On the lower end, they can make $47,480 or $23 per hour, perhaps when just starting out or based on the state you live in.

Salary Rankings And Facts

  • #228 Nationally for All Careers

  • Above Average Salary Nationally

Programs and Degrees

Here are the most common degrees for becoming a Human Resources Specialist (HR). a is usually recommended and specifically a degree or coursework that prepares you for the particular field, see below.

Highest Education Among Human Resources Specialist (HR)s

  • 1.5%   Doctorate
  • 12.2%   Masters
  • 41%   Bachelors
  • 10.5%   Associates
  • 22.5%   College
  • 11.2%   High School
  • 0.9%   Less than High School

Job Growth Projections and Forecast

2014 Total Jobs


2024 Est. Jobs


Job Growth Rate


Est. New Jobs


How does Human Resources Specialist (HR) job growth stack up to other jobs across the country? By 2024, there will be a change of 3,400 jobs for a total of 88,100 people employed in the career nationwide. This is a 4% change in growth over the next ten years, giving the career a growth rate nationwide of Above Average.

Growth Rankings And Facts

  • #479 Nationally for All Careers

  • Above Avg. Growth Nationally

What Companies Employ The Most Human Resources Specialist (HR)s

Industry Current Jobs New Jobs Needed % Increase
Management of companies and enterprises 10,400 --- ---
Local government, excluding education and hospitals 8,100 --- ---
State government, excluding education and hospitals 6,800 -300 0%

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