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Human Resources Degree Salary: What You Can Expect

Human resources (HR) is a crucial job function at any company. As an HR professional, you’re responsible for attracting and retaining top-performing employees, which is essential to any company staying competitive. As such, top jobs in HR are also very competitive.

So how do you raise your qualifications to earn these leadership roles and the higher salaries that come with them?

Is a Degree Required to be a Human Resources Professional?

While not all human resources careers require a degree, many consider a bachelor’s degree a minimum qualification because of the professional nature of the job. This is especially true for roles that lead areas like employee relations, union negotiations, compensation and benefits.

If you want to advance your career beyond entry-level positions in HR, a bachelor’s degree is an important step. Not only will it increase your job prospects, it will improve your earning potential in the short and long term.

Average Salary Expectations for Human Resources Professionals

How much can you earn as a human resources professional? There’s no simple answer to this question as many factors impact your salary expectations. However, we can look at industry norms to help you understand the pay ranges you can expect for different levels of experience and education in the HR field.

Let’s look at the national averages for human resources as a whole as outlined by the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

graphic describing HR salaries by degree level

There are a large range of salaries in the HR field. The type of degree you have can be a difference-maker when it comes to your salary. The higher your education level, the more competitive you’ll be for not only entry-level jobs, but also for advancement into managerial and leadership positions with high-paying salaries.

Which degree you choose to pursue, and when, depends on individual career aspirations, financial situation and family considerations. If you’re trying to decide between a bachelor’s degree and a master’s degree in HR, here are a few important considerations.

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Four Reasons to Earn a Bachelor’s Degree in HR

  • You want to gain industry-specific or job-specific professional skills
  • You’re just trying to break into the human resources field
  • You’re in an entry-level position and higher-level positions require a degree as a minimum qualification
  • You want to increase your earning potential as you advance or transition careers

If you haven’t earned your bachelor’s degree in human resources, the Franklin University B.S. in Human Resources Management is a great opportunity to hone your skills as you learn from real-world professionals in a program aligned with SHRM best practices. Not only can you complete your degree online around your schedule, you’ll also be exposed to networking opportunities to build contacts and enhance your professional development. Four Reasons to Earn a Master’s Degree in HR

  • You already have a bachelor’s degree in human resources or a related field
  • You want to advance into managerial and executive positions
  • You want to be a more competitive candidate for positions at top companies
  • You want to gain skills in detailed and complex areas like competitive employee benefit plans, changing labor laws, and effective talent management strategies

If you’re ready to take the next step in your education, consider the Franklin University M.S. in Human Resource Management. Our program will prepare you to become a strategic partner to the C-suite – affording you the opportunity to advance your organization’s mission as well as your career.

Now that you have a foundational understanding of the professional and salary benefits of these degrees, let’s look at the other aspects that influence your earning potential in the HR field.

What Other Factors Impact Earning Potential for Human Resources Professionals?

Your education is one way to advance your career and increase your salary, but it’s only one of many. Here are other things to take into consideration when trying to increase your compensation.

Impact of Your Employer and Industry

The benefit of choosing a career in HR is that all industries and sectors need HR professionals, giving you a wealth of options for employment. You can choose to work for private or public companies, small businesses or enterprises, nonprofits or government—the possibilities are endless.

Even within these sectors, the industry in which you work can influence your salary. If you work in an in-demand industry like technology, where salaries are generally higher, your earning potential may also be greater.

Here are examples of how human resources manager salaries compare at different companies.

graphic describing the average human resources manager salary by employer

Impact of Your Employer Size

The size of your company or institution will also influence your salary.

Large corporations can offer higher salaries due to the number of positions, opportunities for advancement and ability to specialize. On the other hand, small businesses or companies have smaller operating budgets and need fewer HR employees, so they may not pay as much or have as many advancement opportunities.

If salary is your top consideration, you may want to explore a career at large companies and organizations. However, you should also take into account your preferred working style and atmosphere in addition to financial compensation.

Impact of Your Geographic Location

Where you choose to live and work will always be a factor in your compensation. Cost of living varies widely across the United States. While more expensive cities, like New York and San Francisco, will offer more in base pay, your expenses will also be far more than in smaller cities or different areas of the country.

For example: The average HR Manager salary is $75,127 a year in New York City versus $50,146 in Columbus, Ohio due largely to the difference in living expenses.

Therefore, you must always compare salary against cost of living to determine how far your dollar will stretch where you live.

Impact of Your Professional Experience

Let’s look at an example for human resources managers and how salary increases based on professional experience. Keep in mind, these salaries are for the same role but with different levels of experience.

Average Human Resources Manager Salaries Based on Level of Experience

  • Entry Level: $56,496
  • Mid-Career: $65,574
  • Experienced: $70,598
  • Late-Career: $72,735 *Based on data available on

Even when comparing the same job function, years of experience plays an important role in determining salary. For many professionals, advancement is key for increasing salary.

Impact of Your Job Function

Within human resources departments there can be a multitude of roles. One of the main considerations for HR professionals is to decide if you want to be a generalist, performing all duties within the HR job function, or if you want to specialize in a certain area like employee relations, recruiting, training or performance management.

If you choose to specialize, the role you choose can impact your salary expectations. Here’s a look at how certain specialties compare in terms of salary at the managerial level.

  • Human Resources Manager: $65,070
  • Training Manager: $66,667
  • Recruiting Manager: $71,335
  • Benefits Manager:$74,083
  • Labor Relations Manager: $89,165 *Based on data available on

The Value of a Degree in Human Resources

With the need for human resources professionals steadily growing, getting your degree in this field is a valuable investment. Whether you’re exploring getting a bachelor’s degree or a master’s degree, you should consider the flexibility, cost and length of program when deciding which program to choose.

The Franklin University B.S. in Human Resources Management and the Franklin University M.S. in Human Resource Management are both programs designed specifically for working professionals to help advance their career. Explore how these programs can give you the knowledge, skills and practical experience to excel in human resources.

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