Human resources specialists or HR specialists recruit, screen, interview, and place workers. They often handle tasks related to employee relations, compensation and benefits, and training. They make an average salary of $67,760 a year.

Because they offer guidance to a variety of people including hiring managers, employees and job applicants, HR specialists is an enterprising job made for INFP personality types.

HR Specialist Duties

Human resources specialists typically do the following:

  • Consult with employers to identify employment needs
  • Interview applicants about their experience, education, and skills
  • Contact references and perform background checks on job applicants
  • Inform applicants about job details, such as duties, benefits, and working conditions
  • Hire or refer qualified candidates for employers
  • Conduct or help with new employee orientation
  • Keep employment records and process paperwork

See current HR specialist job listings

Human resources specialists are often trained in all human resources disciplines and perform tasks throughout all areas of the department.

In addition to recruiting and placing workers, human resources specialists help guide employees through all human resources procedures and answer questions about policies.

They sometimes administer benefits, process payroll, and handle any associated questions or problems, although many specialists may focus more on strategic planning and hiring instead of administrative duties.

They also ensure that all human resources functions comply with federal, state, and local regulations.

Other Job Titles

  • Corporate Recruiter
  • Employment Representative
  • HR Analyst (Human Resources Analyst)
  • HR Coordinator (Human Resources Coordinator)
  • HR Generalist (Human Resources Generalist)
  • Human Resources Representative (HR Rep)
  • Human Resources Specialist (HR Specialist)
  • Personnel Analyst
  • Personnel Officer
  • Recruiter

Types of HR Specialists

Human resources generalists handle all aspects of human resources work.

They may have duties in all areas of human resources including recruitment, employee relations, compensation, benefits, training, as well as the administration of human resources policies, procedures, and programs.

Recruiters sometimes known as personnel recruiters or “head hunters,” find, screen, and interview applicants for job openings in an organization.

Recruiters search for applicants by posting listings, attending job fairs, and visiting college campuses. They also may test applicants, contact references, and extend job offers.

Work Schedules

Human resources specialists generally work in offices. Some, particularly recruitment specialists, travel extensively to attend job fairs, visit college campuses, and meet with applicants.

Most specialists work full time during regular business hours.

Human resources specialists usually must have a bachelor’s degree.


Applicants seeking positions as a human resources specialist usually must have a bachelor’s degree in human resources, business, or a related field.

Coursework typically includes business, industrial relations, psychology, professional writing, human resource management, and accounting.

Work Experience in a Related Occupation

Some positions, particularly human resources generalists, may require previous work experience. Candidates can gain experience as human resources assistants, in customer service positions, or in other related jobs.

Licenses, Certifications, and Registrations

Many professional associations that specialize in human resources offer courses intended to enhance the skills of their members, and some offer certification programs.

For example, the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) offers the SHRM Certified Professional (SHRM-CP) and SHRM Senior Certified Professional (SHRM-SCP).

In addition, the HR Certification Institute (HRCI) offers a range of certifications for varying levels of expertise.

Certification usually requires passing an exam, and candidates typically need to meet minimum education and experience requirements.

Exams check for human resources knowledge and how candidates apply their knowledge and judgment to different situations.

Although certification is usually voluntary, some employers may prefer or require it.

Human resources generalists, in particular, can benefit from certification because it shows knowledge and professional competence across all human resources areas.


Human resources specialists who possess a thorough knowledge of their organization, as well as an understanding of regulatory compliance needs, can advance to become human resources managers.

Specialists can increase their chance of advancement by completing voluntary certification programs.

Human Resources Specialists Resume Keywords and Phrases

  • Providing information to supervisors, co-workers, and subordinates by telephone, in written form, e-mail, or in person.
  • Use computers and computer systems (including hardware and software) to program, write software, set up functions, enter data, or process information.
  • Enter transcribe, record, store, or maintain information in written or electronic/magnetic form.
  • Perform administrative tasks
  • Maintain records
  • Develop constructive and cooperative working relationships with others
  • Observe, receive, and obtain information
  • Analyze information
  • Evaluating results
  • Develop goals and plans to prioritize, organize, and accomplish your work.
  • Use relevant information and judgment to determine compliance with laws, regulations, or standards.
  • Handle complaints, settle disputes, and resolve grievances
  • Compile, code, categorize, calculate, tabulate, audit, or verify information.
  • Representing the organization to customers, the public, government, and other external sources.
  • Identify the educational needs of others
  • Explain regulations, policies, or procedures.
  • Administer personnel recruitment or hiring activities.
  • Update knowledge of legal or regulatory environments.
  • Administer compensation or benefits programs.
  • Perform human resources activities.
  • Evaluate personnel practices to ensure adherence to regulations.
  • Maintain data in information systems or databases.
  • Verify application data to determine program eligibility.
  • Coordinate personnel recruitment activities.
  • Develop training materials.
  • Train personnel to enhance job skills.
  • Review license or permit applications.
  • Discuss business strategies, practices, or policies with managers.
  • Advise others on business or operational matters.
  • Inform individuals or organizations of status or findings.
  • Conduct eligibility or selection interviews.
  • Train personnel on managerial topics.
  • Evaluate effectiveness of personnel policies or practices.
  • Prepare operational reports.
  • Advise others on human resources topics.
  • Develop formal educational or training programs or classes
  • Teach or instruct others

Important Qualities

Communication skills. Listening and speaking skills are essential for human resources specialists. They must convey information effectively, and pay careful attention to questions and concerns from job applicants and employees. 

Decisionmaking skills. Human resources specialists use decisionmaking skills when reviewing candidates’ qualifications or when working to resolve disputes.

Detail oriented. Specialists must be detail oriented when evaluating applicants’ qualifications, performing background checks, maintaining records of an employee grievance, and ensuring that a workplace is in compliance with labor standards.

Interpersonal skills. Specialists continually interact with new people and must be able to converse and connect with people from different backgrounds.

Human Resources Specialist Salary

The average salary for an HR Specialist is $67,760 as of May 2019. The median salary looks something like this:

Percentile 10% 25% 50%
75% 90% 
Hourly Wage $17.88$22.81$29.77$39.15$50.93
Annual Wage$37,180$47,450$61,920$81,430$105,930

States That Pay the Highest Salary for HR Specialists

Map of the highest paying states for HR Specialists
State Hourly
Average Wage 
Average Wage
District of Columbia $46.99$97,730
Washington $37.13$77,220
New Jersey $36.72$76,380
California $36.63$76,200
New York $36.62$76,170

Top Paying Cities For HR Specialists

Hr Specialists salary map of top paying cities
Metropolitan area Hourly Average Pay Annual Average Pay
San Francisco-Oakland-Hayward, CA $43.19$89,820
Washington-Arlington-Alexandria, DC-VA-MD-WV $42.15$87,670
California-Lexington Park, MD $41.68$86,700
San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, CA $40.74$84,730
Bridgeport-Stamford-Norwalk, CT $39.69$82,550
Kennewick-Richland, WA $39.59$82,340
Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue, WA $39.37$81,880
Santa Cruz-Watsonville, CA $38.63$80,340
New York-Newark-Jersey City, NY-NJ-PA $38.10$79,240
Napa, CA $37.87$78,780

More Resources

Society for Human Resource Management

HR Certification Institute


International Public Management Association for Human Resources