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Climbing the HR Career Ladder

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Today’s workforce is more competitive than ever so having a plan for your career path is an important first step in reaching your goals. Human resources offers a wide variety of positions–some general and some with specializations. So where to start, and where to head next? Take a look to see how some typical HR roles stack up and how your education, experience and skills help you stand out as a candidate.

Chief HR Officer (CHRO)

As the head of human resources, the CHRO supports company plans in the development and execution of HR systems, policies, goals and strategies. Responsibilities encompass succession planning, talent management, training, development, benefits and compensation.

Salary: $154,8641

Education: MA/MS in HR or MBA expected

Experience: 10-20 years


  • Advise executive management team.
  • Help determine plans for management succession and organizational change.
  • Develop recruiting, retention, compensation, and benefits plans.
  • Oversee talent acquisition and management, career and leadership development, employee engagement and retention, training and compensation.

HR Director

In this senior role, the HR Director takes responsibility for all human resources efforts in an organization and typically reports to the Chief HR Officer. They supervise HR staff and ensure smooth operation of the department.

Salary: $85,9531

Education: B.S. Human Resources, Business, or related field often sufficient with extensive experience. MA/MS in HR or MBA recommended.

Experience: 10 years


  • Create and implement company-wide policies around talent acquisition, employee retention and dismissal, benefits and overall company culture.
  • Ensure employee morale with motivating programs and benefits plans.

HR Manager

The HR manager oversees recruiting and hiring, benefits, training, compensation and related human resources functions. This role is intricately concerned with linking management and employees.

Salary: $64,6571

Education: B.S. Human Resources, Business, or related field – but some employers require a master’s degree.

Experience: 5 years


  • Guarantee compliance with company policies and business laws.
  • Manage teams of HR specialists.
  • Develop and execute human resources plans and procedures relating to their HR specialty.
  • Contribute to the development of overall human resources goals.

HR Generalist

Largely a tactical role, the HR Generalist works within departmental and organizational development, Human Resource Information Systems, employee relations, training and development, as well as benefits and compensation.

Salary: $52,0331

Education: B.S. Human Resources, Business, or related field

Experience: 3-5 years


  • Administer policies, procedures and programs within the HR department.
  • Manage daily operations of the human resources department.

HR Assistant

At the entry level, the HR Assistants takes responsibility for facilitating HR processes, communicating with employees and serving as a company representative. Tasks are heavily administrative.

Salary: $39,1821

Education: B.S. Human Resources, Business, or related field

Experience: Entry level


  • Respond to employee questions and concerns (or refer them to the appropriate party).
  • Assist in events, employee communications, documentation and meetings.
  • Manage logistics of interviews and hiring like scheduling and reference checks.



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