What is the Average HR Executive Salary?

Research shows that 67% of job seekers consider salary to be the most important piece of information when evaluating a job. You can’t ignore salary when looking for an HR executive role. 

The average HR executive salary in the US is in the range of $65,977 and $110,111 per year. Several factors contribute to your salary as a human resources executive such as experience, location, education, industry, and others.

Let’s find out everything about human resources executive salaries in this guide.

Human Resources Executive Salary Based on Location

The human resources executive salaries vary depending on where you live. Even in the United States, you’ll notice a significant difference in the median salary as you move from one state to another. This is due to a difference in the local job market (difference between human resources executive jobs vs. available candidates in the market). Employers have to offer a high average salary in cities with a high cost of living.

Let’s see how the average human resources executive salaries compare across different locations:

The US States with Highest Human Resources Executive Salaries

New York has the highest average human resources executive salary where you can expect to get paid $80,862 per year. The other four states include New Hampshire, Vermont, Wyoming, and Massachusetts.

If you are in one of these 5 states, you are most likely to be paid an average salary of $75K+ per year. 

Wyoming has the lowest cost of living index out of these 5 states (94.3) making it the best state to be in if you are interested in becoming a human resources executive. The cost of living here is 6% less than the national average making it the best state for human resource executives.

The US States with Lowest Human Resources Executive Salaries

The following states have the lowest salary ranges for human resources executives:

  1. North Carolina: $52,323
  2. Missouri: $56,187
  3. Texas: $56,687
  4. Illinois: $57,207
  5. Michigan: $57,439

All these states have a cost of living less than the national average. North Carolina has the highest cost of living which is 4% less than the national average. It seems to be the least suitable state for human resources executives in terms of salary and cost of living comparison.

Human Resources Executive Salary and Industry

The industry has a direct impact on how much human resources executives make per year. According to Zippia, finance and technology are the two top industries with the highest human resources executive salaries:

Finance has a whopping $94,617 per year average human resources executive salary. It is way more than the average salary in New York (the state with the highest human resources executive salaries). Technology, professional, manufacturing, and real estate are the other four highest-paid industries for human resources executives.

These are the large industries having formal human resources departments and HR teams. And this is a reason why the average salaries are higher in these industries. A SaaS, for example, with less than 50 employees might not have a formal human resources department and even if it hires a human resources executive, the salary might not be too high.

You need to pick and target one of these industries if you are interested in earning a decent salary as a human resources executive. Developing industry-relevant skills and expertise is the best way to increase your average monthly salary.

Human Resources Executive Education

A college degree is a basic requirement to qualify for a human resources executive role. A bachelor’s degree in one of the following disciplines is ideal:

  • Human resource development
  • Human resources management
  • Business management/administration
  • Organizational behavior
  • Industrial and organizational psychology.

Here is an example of a human resources executive job posting on Indeed by Bank of America:

A bachelor’s degree in a relevant discipline is necessary if you wish to serve in a large company with a higher than average base salary.

However, having a relevant master’s degree in one of these fields increases your chance of earning even more as an executive. If you have a master’s degree vs. a bachelor’s degree, you can expect to have a high salary.

Human Resources Certifications

HR certifications play a significant role in how much a human resources executive makes. A bachelor’s degree helps you start your career in human resources while certifications help you reach the executive position with decent pay.

Here are the best human resources certifications to improve your skills and increase your average salary:

  1. SHRM-CP is offered by the Society of Human Resource Management. The Certified Professional (CP) is one of the most reputable certifications for human resource professionals. It is an online certification with a flexible duration. You must have a bachelor’s degree or at least one year of human resources experience to enroll in the program
  2. Professional in Human Resources (PHR) by HRCI Certification is a human resources advanced certification for executives. Anyone having at least four years of professional HR experience is eligible for the 2-hours exam
  3. People Analytics for HR (PAHR) Certification by HCI is a 2-day virtual certification that is conducted over Zoom. This is ideal for a human resources executive who is interested in analytics and data. There aren’t any enrollment requirements making it easier for working professionals. 

Salaries For the Human Resources Executive Career Path

The salaries throughout the human resources executive career path change as you move up the ladder. Understanding the human resources executive career path helps you better plan your career and make well-informed decisions.

Here is the human resources career path:

Let’s see how salaries change throughout this career path starting from HR assistant to all the way a human resources executive:

Human Resources Assistant: $35,000

This is an entry-level role that is your starting point in your human resources career. This is a clerical role where the primary responsibility of a human resources assistant is to assist HR specialists and the human resources team in their day-to-day tasks (e.g., recruiting, employee retention, reporting, analytics, and others).

Most companies hire fresh candidates without any experience in human resources. A high school diploma, associate degree, and even a college degree are considered enough to be eligible for human resources assistant.

According to Zippia, the average salary of an HR assistant in the US is $35,000 per year. This is a decent salary for any fresh candidate with no prior experience.

Human Resources Coordinator: $41,000

Human resources coordinator is an early-stage role that goes by many names such as human resources specialist, human resources generalist, training and development coordinator, and related job titles. This is the first resource of an employee in any organization. They act as a coordinator between employees and the human resources department.

You qualify for a human resources coordinator after 1-3 years of experience as a human resources assistant or any relevant administration job. A bachelor’s degree is necessary for this position. The salary estimate of a human resources coordinator is $41,000 per year with an entry-level salary of $29,000 per year.

Human Resources Executive: $79,000

Human resources executive (also known as human resources manager) is a key position in this career path with an average salary of $79,000 per year. The starting salary is $52,000 and you can expect to make up to $118,000 as you gain experience.

The human resources executive is involved in the planning, coordination, and execution of different human resources functions. This includes everything ranging from managing the recruitment and onboarding process, training and development, compensation and benefits, and more.

You need a bachelor’s degree with at least 5 years of relevant experience to become a human resources manager in a reputable company. Certifications help at this stage as it is a managerial role that requires diverse skills and certifications help you prove your worth.

Human Resources Director: $102,000

The human resources director or director of human resources is an executive position that comes with a lot of leadership and strategic responsibilities. With an average salary of $102,000 per year and an entry-level salary of $67,000, it is one of the highest paying roles in human resources.

A director has to deal with the overall HR strategy of the company. He/she is responsible for setting HR goals and objectives, managing legal aspects of human resources, and making key strategic decisions. The role requires 10+ years of human resources experience and a master’s degree in a relevant field.

Human Resources Vice President: $172,000

A human resources vice president (or chief human resources officer) is the officer who runs the HR department. This is a creative, visionary, and strategic role where the VP of HR is involved in meetings, budgeting, and setting the long-term HR and organizational objectives of the company.

The average salary of a human resources VP is $172,000 per year and the entry-level salary is $113,000 which can go as high as $246,000. A master’s degree with 10-20 years of relevant experience is the minimum requirement to be eligible for this position.

Look for Human Resources Executive Jobs in Large Businesses

Human resources executive is a lucrative career with lots of growth opportunities. The entry-level salary of $52,000 per year isn’t a bad deal. Expect to earn more as you gain experience. The top human resources executive makes $119,000+ per year.

Experience and certification are the two keys to your success in this field. Get certifications from reputable institutions and pick a growing and large industry such as finance, manufacturing, or technology. Because large companies that have formal human resources departments not just offer you a high salary but you’ll have tremendous growth opportunities. So, choose your industry wisely. 

Human resources is becoming a challenging task for businesses. At one extreme, HR has to acquire and retain globally diverse talent and at the other extreme, it needs to equip itself with the latest technology to be competitive. Being a human resources executive means you have to manage both these extremes smartly. 


Josh Fechter
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.