A HR generalist has one of the most versatile jobs in the entire human resources department. For that very reason, the average HR generalist salary in the United States reaches an impressive figure.
Since they get the chance to develop ample experience in different functions, human resources generalists have a lot of room for professional growth.
If you’re interested in kick-starting your career by becoming a HR generalist, but are confused about the career path and opportunities, keep reading.
In this post, I’ll take you through the entire job description, what you need to land the job title, and of course, the average salary of human resources generalists.
Let’s dive right in.
Who is a HR Generalist and What Do They Do? [A Brief Look at the Job Description]
As highlighted, these professionals are responsible for a wide range of things. To be a little more specific, here’s a summary of the HR generalist job description:
“The HR generalist is a relatively entry-level position (above an internee and clerk) that involves dealing with the different day-to-day functions of the human resource department. As the job title suggests, generalists don’t specialize in any single area of HR (like human resources specialists). Instead, they have their fingers in many pies.”
Most companies require generalists because they don’t need to hire specialists to look after certain functions.
Considering that, there will always be a job market for HR generalists.
The Typical Duties and Responsibilities of a HR Generalist
The exact job responsibilities for HR generalists vary from company to company.
However, here is a glimpse of what the job entails:
- Administration – this usually involves benefits administration and payroll management, among other things.
- Recruitment and Onboarding – the HR generalist also wears the hat of a recruiter, helping seek out competent profiles, recruiting, and then onboarding them. Additionally, they may also play a role in workforce planning by assessing the future and current staffing needs of the company.
- Training and Development – in companies with no training specialists, HR generalists help with the planning and execution of training programs.
- Performance Management – this involves using metrics to track the overall performance levels of employees. Additionally, generalists may work closely with senior HR managers to make critical decisions related to performance.
- Compensation and Benefits – in the absence of compensation specialists, generalists also assist with designing the compensation and benefits packages (by studying industry trends and benchmarks).
Other responsibilities include ensuring compliance, looking after labor relations/employee relations, and facilitating smooth communication, among other things.
While all of this may sound like a little too much, not all HR generalists have to look after every one of those things.
The HR Generalist Salary [According to Different Sources]
In the US, the base HR generalist salary varies from state to state.
The average base salary for your state (or city) depends on a wide range of factors, with the cost of living being the most common one.
Below, we’ve gathered the salary estimates from different platforms.
Glassdoor is a reliable source for company reviews and salary estimates for different roles.
According to the website, as of now, the average HR generalist salary in the United States is $53,330 per year.
In general, the average salary ranges from $39,000 to $75,000.
Furthermore, data indicates that HR generalists receive an “additional cash compensation” of $3,700.
Do note that the estimates provided above are based on factors like company size, industries, and years of experience. The figures for the industry you’re interested in may be different.
You can also check out the average pay in different companies.
According to Indeed, the national average HR generalist salary figure is $57,463.
These estimates are based on around 8,300 salary reports from all across the US, including major hubs such as New York, San Francisco, Seattle, Los Angeles, and Washington, DC.
Here’s a list of the highest-paying US cities for HR generalists (with New York City bagging the first spot with $65,623 per year):
In addition to showing how much full-time HR generalists make, Indeed also lets you view the typical benefits that are offered to them.
Finally, according to PayScale – another trustworthy source to get pay estimates – the average HR generalist makes $54,056 a year in the US.
Additionally, they can get hefty amounts from bonuses ($2,480), commissions ($4,000), and profit ($1,561), bringing the actual take-home pay to somewhere around $62,000 a year.
On PayScale, you can also view a list of open HR generalist jobs.
How to Become a HR Generalist
Becoming a HR generalist can open many doors for career advancements.
If you’re a human resource assistant, clerk, an intern, or a college grad looking for a job, you can easily transition to the role of a generalist, provided that you have the right skillsets.
Here’s a quick blueprint that could help you get there:
Invest in the Right Education
Before anything else, companies require an aspiring candidate to at least have a Bachelor’s degree in any of the following:
- Human resources management
- Business administration
- Organizational development
- Any other related field
If you don’t have a bachelor’s degree in a relevant field, you can consider pursuing a Master’s degree (preferably an MBA).
Plus, getting the SHRM certification will significantly improve your odds.
With the right credentials, you’ll gain a competitive edge over other candidates.
Build Relevant Experience
Since securing a position as a HR generalist usually comes further down the chain, you’ll need to build a few years of experience before you become one.
It’s rare for someone to land the position right after graduating.
You’ll first have to spend some time building relevant experience by working either as a HR intern, trainee, clerk, or an assistant, where you’ll be assigned cross-functional responsibilities before you can move up the chain.
Develop the Right Skills
Academics and experience will help you land the job.
However, if you’re wondering how to become a great HR generalist, you’ll also need to develop the right skillsets.
Here’s a list of the most in-demand skills for generalists:
- HRIS knowledge/experience
- Emotional intelligence
- Recruitment and selection
- Compensation management
- Interpersonal skills
With the relevant skills in your arsenal, you’ll be able to climb further up the chain.
What’s the Next Step?
Once you become a HR generalist, you’ll have endless opportunities and routes to move forward in your career.
Unlike your specialist-counterparts, you have the advantage of gaining knowledge and experience in different areas.
As a result, you have a better chance of becoming the HR manager in your organization (however, that’s not to say that HR specialists can’t rise up to managerial positions).
By staying on the generalist track, you can also become a HR Business Partner – a role where you work side-by-side with the upper-management to create and execute strategies.
If you’re interested in any specific function, you may also transition towards specialization by applying for related jobs (either somewhere else or within your company).
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