Career Path for Human Resource Professionals – Is it Worth It?


Whether you are just starting your career in HR, or have had years of experience in it, advancing in their career is everyone’s main goal. The human resources career path is not a career that requires life-long dedication to get ahead, in fact, entering the HR field is not as difficult as entering other fields.

‍Human Resources professionals can often be so busy helping their employees attain career development opportunities that they forget to prioritize their own career advancement. However, for every individual, career advancement is important so that they can make maximum use of their capabilities.

Many HR Professionals make lateral or inter-departmental switches to work in the human resources department, but that’s mostly observed in small organizations or medium-sized enterprises. Larger organizations usually have a hiring process that is dedicated to recruit new employees for each role, which means that they don’t believe in the concept of inter-departmental switches.

Moreover, many people think that the field of Human Resources does not have much scope, however, they are unaware that the field of HR has many distinct disciplines that could be pursued, like payroll, compliance, engagement, recruiting, benefits, diversity and inclusion (D&I), leave of absences, and so on. Due to so many options, many HR professionals even specialize in one of the disciplines to maximize their career horizon.

Benefits of Choosing HR as Your Career Path

There are many advantages of pursuing a career in human resources. Here are a few reasons on why working in HR can be a good career choice for you:

Be in a Position of Influence

HR professionals not only have a strong understanding of an organization’s priorities and challenges, but they also have the ability to influence the future of the company based on the employment decisions they make. HR brings a unique perspective to the business, which helps organizations achieve their objectives more efficiently. Moreover, HR professionals have a direct influence over all the employees of the organization, which also gives them more authority and autonomy to make the employees work towards organizational success.

A Chance to Change Lives

The main purpose of HR is to keep employees happy and satisfied. The daily duties of the job make employee welfare and happiness a matter of professional responsibility. There are several ways an HR professional can help someone in need, for example hiring someone who is in danger of losing a home, providing health insurance, tuition fee reimbursement, and arranging job training that provides employees with transferable skills. Therefore, HR professionals have the ability to truly change an employee’s life.

Cannot be Replaced

Due to modern technology, every job is at stake in these times. To further instigate the problem, the rise of AI has already unemployed thousands of people around the globe. However, as an HR professional, you don’t need to worry about losing your job in the hands of technology. Human Resources is a field that requires a high level of emotional intelligence, intuition, and common sense, and these elements cannot be found in any technology or software.

The Field of HR is Experiencing Steady Growth

Generation Z is known to be the most difficult generation to understand and manage. The previous generations, such as the millennials, baby boomers, and Generation X, were easily handled and managed. However, to satisfy and retain Gen-Zs, HR professionals have to develop and implement new strategies, and therefore the field of HR is experiencing growth. Gen-Zs are the future of the workforce, and that’s why companies will need recruiters, benefits specialists, and other HR personnel to manage their workforce.

Learn Something New Everyday

HR is a diverse field, and if you don’t specialize in any one discipline, then you can avail the opportunity to learn something new every day. As an HR professional, you have to stay on your toes, as one day you may be helping an employee with their health insurance coverage, and the next day you could be dealing with the effects of new laws or regulations. You will face a lot of challenges while working in this field, and these problems will help you grow, keep the work engaging, and will also make your decision-making power stronger.

Become a Mentor

To date, many HR professionals have become mentors. Usually, in entry-level positions, employees do not have a clear plan for the direction of their career. Therefore, HR professionals take this opportunity and guide them appropriately, and sometimes even nudge employees towards pursuing new career opportunities.

Avail the Opportunity to Create a More Diverse & Equitable Workplace

One of the most important roles of an HR professional is to carry out diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives. From identifying bias in the hiring process to promoting the values of transparency and respect, an HR professional needs to ensure that the people at their company feel seen, understood, and supported. This is not only important for your business, but by improving diversity in the workplace, you could actually help improve the productivity and problem-solving skills of all your employees.

Develop People Around You

One of the HR’s core aims is to focus on the professional development of their employees. With tools like performance reviews and exit interviews, HR professionals can collect valuable information that guides performance improvement plans. This gives you an opportunity to improve the productivity of individual employees and the organization as a whole too.

Potential to Earn an Above-Average Salary

Human Resource professionals are considered to be the key asset for an organization, and that’s why organizations make sure that they are compensated appropriately. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual salary for human resources professionals was $63,490 in the year 2020. While on the other hand, the 2020 median annual salary for all occupations was just $41,950. This is just the median salary we are talking about, the higher you move up the corporate ladder, the higher your salary figures get.

HR Career Paths

Before starting your journey as an HR professional, you need to clear the misconception that the HR department’s job is easy. However, that’s far from the case, because when you start listing down all the tasks associated with HR, the list will be never-ending. An HR professional has to deal with labor relations, employment law, talent acquisition, employee benefits, development programs, company culture, human capital deployment, performance management, and various other tasks.

Even though an HR professional’s tasks are fulfilling and complex, yet, getting into the HR field is quite easy. By simply earning a Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration, you can opt for an HR position. To further excel in your career, you can even earn a Master’s degree in HR or some relevant discipline. Moreover, even if you are not involved in the HR field in any way, you can still make a lateral move towards an HR career if the company allows it. In the beginning, you will most likely have an entry-level position, but the career ladder in HR is long, and you can take the steps gradually.

Once you have landed the job, you need to expand the scope of your job, which is not possible without acquiring new knowledge or skillset. To expand your career horizon, you must register for courses and earn certifications from institutions that are globally recognized. Earning certifications will not only increase your knowledge and skill set, but it is also going to open new opportunities for you, grow your network, and expand your career horizon.

The process of earning certifications is also not that complex or difficult, you can become a certified HR professional by simply sitting on your home couch or in your office. From the registration of the course to the assessment, the entire process is online. To give you more flexibility and ease, you are given a sufficient amount of time after which you can take the exam. After you pass the exam, you will earn the certificate within a few days, after which you can download it and even send the link to your potential employers. If you are worrying about the cost, then it is also important to highlight that the course registration fee is quite affordable, and you will be charged no certificate renewal charges or examination charges afterward. You just have to pay once, and you become an HR professional for a lifetime.

As said earlier, HR is a diverse field with many disciplines, so if you are confused about what to select and what not to do, then you must continue reading.

Generalists vs. Specialists

A Human Resources specialist is someone who is highly skilled and experienced in one aspect of HR, such as recruiting, payroll, benefits, etc. An HR generalist, on the other hand, is someone who has general knowledge and expertise across a variety of HR disciplines.

Your next question must be that from these two options, which one is better? The answer to that question depends entirely upon you. Some organizations may benefit more from one type of role than the other. For example, smaller organizations may only need one or two generalists to handle all of their HR needs, while larger organizations might need an entire team of specialists for each HR discipline to deal with the volume and complexity of the business’s needs.

Everyone’s dream job is different, some want to work for multinational corporations, while some get much better opportunities in smaller companies, so there is no hard and fast rule in being a specialist or a generalist.

It is important to note that generalist roles are great for those HR personnel who enjoy having lots of variety in what they do. As a generalist, you would be handling everything related to HR, which means no day will be the same for you, as you will be working on various projects simultaneously.

However, the downside of becoming a generalist is that you will never be able to fully dedicate yourself to a project. Since you will be working on so many projects simultaneously, you will not feel that you are growing or making any meaningful progress in your career, because you will always be preoccupied with one thing or the other.

Besides generalization, you also have the option for specialization. Specialization allows you to play your strengths and really invest in your skills in one particular area of HR. By gaining experience and a unique skill set, you can become a highly skilled candidate in your space.

As everything has its own pros and cons, if you are someone who needs a little bit of variety, you will definitely get bored of doing similar work and projects again and again as a specialist. In addition to that, if you want to pursue a different career interest, the options might be limited for you because of the specialized skillset.

Thus, when it comes to choosing any one of the two options, you must take into account your unique passions and interests, and make sure the path you choose is suited for you.

Options in HR Career Path

The HR career path is a relatively simple one, but it varies from company to company. Some companies have separate job titles for HR personnel, while others simply combine the job descriptions of two into a single role. The responsibilities and salaries of HR professionals also differ according to companies.

HR Assistant

Salary: $31,000 to $47,000
The HR assistant or HR officer is an entry-level position that usually requires a bachelor’s degree. The job of an HR assistant is to help facilitate various HR processes, such as completing administrative paperwork, handling benefits plans, termination, and so on. HR assistants also solve common workplace issues regarding absences, wages, overtime, etc. In addition, they are also tasked with other infrequent tasks, like sending memos, reminders, organizing company events, employment verification, and more.

HR Coordinator

Salary: $49,000 to $60,000
HR coordinators are mainly linked with the recruitment side of things, that’s why they are also known as recruiters. Their job description includes assisting the HR department with recruitment, payroll processing, employee records, and providing administrative support. HR coordinators are also responsible for talent acquisition, arranging interviews, checking applicant references, maintaining their records, and conducting onboarding sessions.

HR Specialist

Salary: $40,000 to $65,000
As discussed earlier, in an HR specialist position, you are officially specializing in HR. At this point, you can focus on any one specific HR function. Other than your specialist responsibilities, you may also be expected to help with daily HR operations and other organizational practices. To become a specialist, you are least expected to have a bachelor’s degree and 3 years of experience in the HR field.

HR Generalist

Salary: $40,000 to $68,000
Many organizations usually hire people as HR generalists first, and then after some time, they promote them to the position of HR manager or something equivalent to that. As discussed earlier, an HR generalist is responsible for everything, from employees’ hiring to their retirement, everything is under their radar. The requirements of becoming an HR generalist are similar to HR specialist’s requirements.

HR Manager

Salary: $62,000 to $90,000
The responsibilities of an HR Manager are to overlook procedures, policies, and compliance-related issues. They must ensure that all activities are compliant with local, state, and federal laws and that every aspect of Human Resources abides by the guidelines. The HR manager also has to join in business planning and budget development projects and has to be an active member in all of these meetings. They also need to have strong problem-solving and leadership skills and should have adequate knowledge of Human Resource Information Systems (HRIS). To become an HR Manager, a Bachelor’s degree is mandatory plus you are expected to have 5 years of experience in the industry.

HR Director

Salary: $70,000 to $110,000
The HR director position includes several roles, which could include heading up several departments or even just managing the HR managers. HR directors are expected to act as strategic partners for all employees, and they have to deal with day-to-day problems or complaints related to HR processes. To become an HR Director, you are required to have a Master’s degree with more than 10 years of experience.

Chief HR Officer (CHRO)

Salary: $90,000 to $250,000
The position of Chief Human Resources Officer (CHRO) is the highest you can achieve in the field of HR. The CHRO works with the CEO and other senior and executive staff. They are responsible for supervising all of the HR administration for a company, can propose changes to senior management, set goals, and can also check whether the company is following the rules and regulations or not. CHROs also focus on employee retention and staff development activities and are also responsible for developing HR programs to train lower-level HR staff. To become a CHRO of a company, you are required to have 15 years of hands-on industry experience and a specialized Master’s Degree.