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

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 resources 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 aim by directing the administrative functions of human resources departments. Their work involves overseeing employee relations, securing regulatory compliance, and administering employee-related services such as payroll, training, and benefits. They supervise the department’s specialists and support staff and make sure that tasks are completed accurately and on time.

Human resources managers also consult with top executives regarding the organization’s strategic planning and talent management issues. 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 the organization meet budgetary goals.

Some human resources managers oversee all aspects of an organization’s human resources department, including the compensation and benefits program and the training and development program. 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 they 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 they try to fill high-level positions. They must develop a recruiting strategy that helps them meet the staffing needs of their organization and compete effectively for the best employees.

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Work Environment

Human resources managers held about 152,100 jobs in 2018. The largest employers of human resources managers were as follows:

Management of companies and enterprises 14%
Professional, scientific, and technical services                              14
Manufacturing 12
Government 9
Healthcare and social assistance 9

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 recruit employees.

Work Schedules

Most human resources managers work full time during regular business hours. Some human resources managers work more than 40 hours per week.

Education and Training

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.

Education

Human resources managers usually need a bachelor’s degree. Candidates may earn a bachelor’s degree in human resources or 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, human resources managers must have related work experience. Some managers start out as human resources specialists or labor relations specialists.

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 it may enhance advancement opportunities. Many employers prefer to hire certified candidates, and some positions may require certification. The Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), HR Certification Institute (HRCI), WorldatWork, and International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans are among many professional associations that offer a variety of certification programs.

Personality and Interests

Human resources managers typically have an interest in the Helping and Persuading interest areas, according to the Holland Code framework. The Helping interest area indicates a focus on assisting, serving, counseling, or teaching other people. The Persuading interest area indicates a focus on influencing, motivating, and selling to other people.

If you are not sure whether you have a Helping or Persuading interest which might fit with a career as a human resources manager, you can take a career test to measure your interests.

Human resources managers should also possess the following specific qualities:

Decision-making 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 fire 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 manage several projects at once and prioritize tasks.

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

Pay

The median annual wage for human resources managers was $116,720 in May 2019. 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 $68,300, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $205,720.

In May 2019, the median annual wages for human resources managers in the top industries in which they worked were as follows:

Professional, scientific, and technical services                            $131,340
Management of companies and enterprises 129,510
Manufacturing 115,000
Government 102,660
Healthcare and social assistance 99,380

Most human resources managers work full time during regular business hours. Some human resources managers work more than 40 hours per week.

Job Outlook

Employment of human resources managers is projected to grow 7 percent from 2018 to 2028, faster than the average for all occupations.

Employment growth depends largely 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 also will 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.

Job Prospects

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

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

For More Information

For more information about human resources managers, including certification, visit

Society for Human Resource Management

HR Certification Institute

International Public Management Association for Human Resources

For information about careers and certification in employee compensation and benefits, visit

International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans

WorldatWork

For information about careers in employee training and development and certification, visit

Association for Talent Development

International Society for Performance Improvement

 

FAQ

Where does this information come from?

The career information above is taken from the Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Outlook Handbook. This excellent resource for occupational data is published by the U.S. Department of Labor every two years. Truity periodically updates our site with information from the BLS database.

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