The human resources assistant is an ideal entry-level position for fresh college graduates who want to pursue their career in HR. Companies with established HR departments are most likely to hire fresh university graduates as human resources assistants. The HR assistant's salary starts from $21,000 per year and goes up to $59,500 per year.
The average compensation in the US is $40,048 per year, according to ZipRecruiter while the US Bureau of Labor Statistics reports an average salary of $45,630 per year. Zippia reports an average of $35,000 while other job boards report the human resources assistant compensation in a similar range. So, it is safe to say you'll make $35K to $45K per year.
However, the starting salary of a human resources assistant is in the range of $21,000 and $ $29,890 per year. Your initial salary might be low but it is expected to increase with experience. Here is what Zippia reports on the lowest, average, and highest human resources assistant salaries as of February 9, 2022:
As the salary bracket is quite wide and it is somewhat complicated to figure out how much a human resources assistant makes. The wage depends on several factors which are covered in detail below.
Let’s unleash this salary myth.
HR Assistant Salary by Location
One of the most important variables that impact salary is your location. There is a significant difference in average HR assistant salaries as you move from one state to another in the US. The base salaries differ a lot from city to city within the same state.
The US States with Highest Human Resources Assistant Salaries
According to ZipRecruiter, New York is the highest-paid state where the annual salary reaches $45,775. This is in accordance with the cost of living index in New York (148.2). New York is 48% more expensive than the US average and this is a reason why human resources assistant salaries are the highest there.
Here is the list of the states with the highest salaries for HR assistants:
- New York: $45,775
- New Hampshire: $44,395
- Vermont: $41,988
- Wyoming: $40,851
- Massachusetts: $40,343.
The difference in the average salaries for human resources assistants isn’t significant. The salary in Massachusetts, for example, is almost equivalent to the average human resources assistant compensation ($40,028).
The US States with Lowest Salaries
If you are in one of the following 5 states, your compensation might be lower than the average HR assistant salary. These states are:
- North Carolina: $29,620
- Missouri: $31,806
- Texas: $32,090
- Illinois: $32,384
- Michigan: $32,515.
The cost of living in these states is less than the national average so companies have tweaked their salaries accordingly. North Carolina is the lowest-paid state with an annual salary range of $29,620. This is quite low as compared to the average human resources assistant compensation while the cost of living is 4% lower than the overall average.
You need to choose your state smartly when hunting for an HR assistant job.
Highest Paying US Cities
The cities with the highest human resources assistant salaries are different from the highest paying states. Most of the cities aren't even in the relevant states. For example, San Francisco is the top paying city with an average base salary of $49,935.
Here is the detailed salary data of the top cities:
- San Francisco, CA: $49,935
- Fremont, CA: $47,903
- San Jose, CA: $46,713
- Oakland, CA: $46,197
- Tanaina, AK: $46,052
- Wasilla, AK: $46,051
- Sunnyvale, CA: $45,307
- Hayward, CA: $45,229
- Jackson, WY: $45,039
- Norwalk, CT: $44,962.
California takes the lead with 6 out of ten highest-paid cities for HR assistant salaries. A clear reason is that the cost of living in CA is 42.2% higher than the national average. It is the state with the highest employment for HR assistants accounting for 14,260 which is almost double the second leading state, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Your chances of getting hired and earning higher than the overall average compensation in California and in one of the above 6 cities are significantly higher due to a high employment rate.
The HR assistant salaries are also influenced by the industry you are working in. Startups and small businesses have a limited number of employees so they don’t require an HR department. They work with one entry-level HR assistant who reports to a senior HR manager or director.
The best salaries for HR assistants are offered by large businesses and enterprises in top industries. The manufacturing industry, for example, requires a functional HR department to manage thousands of employee records.
So, you need to target large businesses that have a proper HR department as they're more likely to offer a decent salary because they need your services.
Then there are top-paying industries that should be your top priority if you are looking for a human resources assistant job. These industries include:
- Computer and peripheral equipment manufacturing: $72,800
- Natural gas distribution: $65,010
- Federal government postal service: $63,760
- Electric power plants: $63,320
- Petroleum and coal manufacturing: $58,400.
These are high-paying industries but employment concentration is limited. On the other hand, if you target high concentration industries such as management of companies and enterprises (9,710), it is easier to get a human resources assistant job. But you'll have to compromise on salary.
Choose your industry and target it from day one so you don’t have to compromise on salary.
Your education is a key variable that determines your salary. The HR assistant is an entry-level job but most businesses prefer 1-2 years of relevant experience. The minimum education requirement is a bachelor’s degree in HR, organizational behavior, business administration, or a relevant field.
Here is an example job description:
A bachelor’s degree is a basic requirement. An associate degree also works but you'll need relevant experience with it.
Your best bet is to have a bachelor’s degree and gain some relevant HR experience to have a better chance of landing a decent-paying HR assistant job.
Skills and certifications have a huge impact on the HR assistant salaries. A single certification from a reputable institution can make a lot of difference. If you are a fresh candidate with no HR experience, a certification can turn the tables for you.
Here are the top certifications for human resources assistants:
- HR University (HR Generalist Certification): This is one of the best courses to get the ideal skills for the day-to-day tasks of an HR assistant job while having extra knowledge to level up into a generalist or manager role.
- SHRM Certified Professional (SHRM-CP): It is one of the most reputable certifications that include a 4-hour exam. It doesn’t have any requirements for the certification.
- IPMA-HR Certified Professional: It is an ideal certification for candidates who are interested in public sector companies. You need to complete a course titled Public Sector HR Essentials and then you can sit in the exam. There is no eligibility criterion for the certification making it best for beginners.
- Associate Professional in Human Resources: It is an entry-level certification by HRCI that’s suitable for beginners. There is no eligibility criterion. Anyone can enroll and sit in the 2 hours and 15 minutes exam.
One of these (or any other HR assistant certification) helps you showcase your HR knowledge and skills. This increases your chance of getting hired and earning more salaries than others.
Salaries Along the Human Resources Assistant Career Path
A human resources assistant is the first entry point in the HR career. This shouldn’t be your destination. As you gain experience, you'll move to higher positions with better salaries. Here is what the average salaries look like along the HR assistant career path to give you a better idea of what to expect ahead:
Human Resources Assistant: $35,000
The starting salary for a human resources assistant is $21,000 and it can go as high as $45,000+ per year. The initial salary depends on your education, experience, skills, and certification.
This is the entry-level role in the HR career path. You can start your career as an HR assistant with a bachelor’s degree in HR or a related field. Get a certification to increase your chances of getting hired.
Human Resources Generalist: $52,000
The starting salary of a human resources generalist is $38,000 while the average salary is $52,000 per year.
The HR generalist performs daily HR functions ranging from staffing, employment records management, administrative tasks, training and development, salaries and benefits, company policy enforcement, and others. It requires 3 years of HR experience with a bachelor’s degree. So, you qualify for an HR generalist after spending 2-3 years as a human resources assistant.
Human Resources Manager: $79,000
A human resources manager or human resources executive makes $79,000 per year with a starting annual salary of $52,000 per year. It is a managerial post where you’ll be involved in the planning and execution of different HR tasks and projects.
The role requires 5+ years of experience in HR management with a bachelor’s or master’s degree. Certifications and analytical skills are required to be an effective HR manager.
Human Resources Director: $102,000
Director of human resources is an executive role with an estimated salary of $102,000 per year that can go as high as $156,000 per year. The role requires 10+ years of HR experience with a bachelor’s or master’s degree. According to Zippia, 69% of HR directors have a bachelor’s degree which means experience matters more than education and degree for this position.
Human Resources Vice President: $172,000
The human resources vice president is a chief officer role with an average annual salary of $172,000 that can reach $264,000 annually.
Being the head of the HR department, the VP is responsible for strategic decisions and developing HR strategies for the company. The role requires intensive HR experience of 10-20 years and in-depth knowledge and skills in running and managing an HR department end-to-end.
Human Resources Assistant is Just the Beginning
A career in HR starts with an HR assistant and you now know how much does a human resources assistant make? The entry-level human resources assistant compensation might be low, especially if you don’t have any experience, but the road ahead is full of amazing opportunities and high salary packages.
Start hunting for an HR assistant position in your preferred location and industry. The world is waiting for an amazing HR professional.
Josh Fechter is the founder of HR.University. He’s a certified HR professional and has managed global teams across 5 different continents including their benefits and payroll. You can connect with him on LinkedIn here.