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HR Specialist: Salary and Job Description

Written by: East Carolina University®   •  Dec 19, 2023
Human Resources Specialist Sitting at a Desk Shaking an Employee’s Hand While Other Employees in the Company Stand Around.

HR Specialist: Salary and Job Description

A business organization is only as strong as its people. For any business to grow and succeed, it is essential to have the right talent in place who are well-trained and fully supported in their work. At many organizations, these responsibilities fall to a human resources—or HR—specialist. This role focuses on building strong teams, and ensuring the members of those teams are empowered to do their best work.

Those who have an academic background in psychology or a related field, and who care about seeing organizations become vibrant and versatile, may find this job to be meaningful and rewarding. However, before pursuing this career path, it may be helpful to learn more about the HR specialist salary and job description.

What Is an HR Specialist?

HR specialists are professionals in the field of personnel management. Their scope of responsibilities may include recruiting and hiring new team members, managing employee relationships, ensuring employees have the appropriate level of training, and administering employee compensation and benefits.

An HR specialist may choose to take on a generalized role, managing a wide range of HR tasks, while others may focus on a specific area, such as labor relations, compensation and benefits, or health and safety. Larger organizations may have multiple HR professionals with different specialties, while smaller organizations may have just one or two generalists.

HR Specialist Job Description

The duties and responsibilities associated with this position may vary by organization. However, a typical HR specialist job description may include the following tasks.

  • Creating, implementing, reviewing, and enforcing an organization’s HR policies and procedures
  • Managing benefits programs, including health and life insurance offerings
  • Designing and evaluating employee onboarding and training programs
  • Performing regular employee performance reviews
  • Ensuring employee records are kept up to date, particularly regarding employment status
  • Answering HR- or benefits-related questions from employees in a timely and accurate manner

What Is the HR Specialist Salary and Job Outlook?

Those who are drawn to this role will naturally have some questions about the salary range, as well as overall career prospects. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) provides data points to address both questions.

HR Specialist Salary Range

According to BLS data from November 2023, the median annual salary for an HR specialist was $64,200. A number of factors can affect the HR specialist salary range, including level of education, years of experience, and geographic location.

HR Specialist Job Outlook

BLS data projects job openings for HR specialists will grow 6% from 2022 to 2032. This represents a rate of growth a little bit faster than the average for all professions during this time period—meaning this is a career path with plenty of opportunity and ample room for progression.

How to Become an HR Specialist

To prepare for long-term success in this position, it is important to cultivate the right set of skills and professional competencies. Doing so requires a deft balance of academic training and on-the-job experience.

1. Obtain an Undergraduate Education

Most HR specialist roles require an undergraduate degree at minimum. This might be a bachelor’s degree in psychology, business development, or any field related to human resources. Earning an undergraduate degree is an essential way to start honing basic skills.

2. Seek Internships and Experience

While internships are not necessarily required, they can provide a great opportunity to flesh out skills and experience real HR issues up close. Internship examples include HR liaison roles at nonprofits, as well as in the university ecosystem.

3. Pursue Advanced Education

Obtaining a master’s degree in an HR-related field is not always necessary, but it can provide an opportunity for additional skills formation. Additionally, earning an advanced degree can translate to a higher HR specialist salary, and positions of greater responsibility and leadership.

4. Cultivate Essential Skills

Through this combination of classroom learning and professional experience, aspiring HR specialists can hone a robust set of skills that can lead to lasting impact and long-term success. Some essential HR skills to focus on include:

  • Strong written and oral communication skills, including the ability to answer queries succinctly and clearly
  • Problem-solving and conflict-management skills
  • Relational skills, including active listening and empathy
  • Familiarity with core principles of compensation, benefits administration, and employment law

Seek Excellence in HR

HR specialists play an invaluable role in helping employees and organizations thrive. To succeed, and to earn the most competitive HR specialist salary, it is essential to seek a comprehensive education. An online psychology degree can be an excellent foundation, providing technical industry knowledge as well as the relational and communication skills for HR excellence.

The online BA in Psychology program from East Carolina University® can provide mastery of the competencies and concepts for a long-lasting HR career. Find out more about the program and its unique curriculum today.


BetterTeam, HR Specialist Job Description

Indeed, 12 Common Types of Human Resources Jobs

Indeed, Everything You Need To Know About Becoming an HR Specialist

Indeed, What Does a Human Resources Specialist Do?

United States Bureau of Labor Statistics, Human Resources Specialists

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