A people-oriented profession
Careers in human resources can be divided into two categories: the generalist and the specialist. Each requires its own educational training and involves different levels of responsibility.
The Human Resources Generalist
A career as a human resources generalist requires you to wear a number of different hats. Depending on the size of your company (which will determine how many people staff the human resources department and how responsibilities are assigned), you might find yourself:
- Staffing: including posting job ads, managing applications, performing interviews and testing.
- Training: helping employees adjust to new jobs or responsibilities, and continuing to advance seasoned workers in the knowledge of their jobs.
- Managing the work force: addressing the day-to-day operation of the business at the employee level (i.e. resolving disputes, dealing with complaints, evaluating performance, supervising and managing attendance).
- Coordinating financial matters: submitting pay requirements, dispensing pay checks or stubs, arranging vacation and sick pay.
- Developing procedures: creating an employee handbook, addressing employee concerns, maintaining an equitable workplace.
- Maintaining procedures: ensuring compliance with both internal and external regulations regarding the workforce.
If you're just starting out on a generalist career, you may also perform as an assistant to the manager or the department as a whole.
While your salary will of course be affected by your position in the company and the size of the organization, you'll find wages for a human resources generalist settling anywhere between $40 000 and $60 000 a year.
The Human Resources Specialist
Specialists are typically employed by larger organizations that require an expert in each of the different human resources areas. There are four main human resources departments: staffing, training, finance and health and safety As a specialist, you'll already have focused your education on a particular area, however some specialists will work in more than one area or continue with their education so that they are able to transition between departments.
Specialists also take care of legal and governmental relations and regulations. They're responsible for the maintenance of safe, fair and legal employee procedures and relations.
The expected salary for a human resources specialist depends on their area of expertise. Staffing jobs are usually considered entry level but you may still find some companies willing to pay $60 000 a year for the position. On average you can expect to find a human resource specialist job paying anywhere from $50 000 to $100 000 a year.