Human Resources Manager

Human resources managers perform the administrative functions of an organization, such as handling employee benefits questions or recruiting, interviewing, and hiring new personnel. They also consult with top executives on strategic planning, such as suggesting and changing policies. They specialize in a variety of areas. Employment and placement managers direct the hiring and termination of workers, and supervise equal employment opportunity specialists and recruitment specialists. Compensation managers establish and maintain an organization’s pay system, develop fair and equitable pay rates, conduct surveys to compare their organization to others, and oversee evaluation systems. Training and development managers supervise employee training and development programs. Directors of industrial relations oversees issues related to labor and unions. Directors of human resources supervise the managers of several human resources departments, and coordinate day-to-day operations with the goals of top management.

Job Skills

Human resources managers must be able to work well with individuals while working toward the goals of the organization. The field requires a number of different skills. They need to be good communicators, both verbally and in writing. Because of the increasingly diverse work force, they must be comfortable working with people from a broad range of cultural backgrounds. They must be able to reconcile conflicting ideas and points of view and work under high pressure. They must possess a fair-minded, congenial, and persuasive personality.


In 2002, human resources managers earned a median annual salary of $64,710. Earnings ranged from the lowest 10%, who earned less than $36,280, and the highest 10%, who earned more than $114,300. The following shows the median annual salaries for the industries employing the highest numbers of human resources managers:

  • Management of companies and enterprises – $77,690
  • Local government – 65,590
  • General medical and surgical hospitals – 61,720
  • Depository credit intermediation – 60,030

Training and Education

Educational backgrounds for human resources managers vary greatly. For entry-level positions, employers usually prefer candidates with bachelor’s degrees in human resources, personnel administration, or industrial and labor relations. Some employers prefer candidates with bachelor’s degrees in a technical or business field, while others prefer a well-rounded liberal arts education. College courses leading to a career as a training and development specialist can be found in the departments of business administration, education, instructional technology, organizational development, human services, communication, or public administration. Usually a broad assortment of courses in the social sciences, business, and behavioral science is preferred, although some jobs require a specialized background in engineering, science, finance, or law. For those seeking advancement to top management positions, a master’s degree in human resources, labor relations, or in business administration with a concentration in human resources will be necessary.


In 2002, human resources managers held about 202,000 jobs. About 80% of salaried jobs were in the private sector. 18% were employed by local, State, and Federal government.

Job Outlook

Between 2002 and 2012, the number of human resources managers is expected to increase faster than the average. Demand will increase due to legislation that sets standards for occupational safety and health, equal opportunity, wages, health, pensions, and family leave, as well as expansion in international human resources management and human resources information systems. Job growth will be somewhat tempered by the increased use of computers, making workers more and more efficient. Competition will be keen among qualified college graduates and experienced workers.