How to Become a Human Resources Generalist

Human Resources Generalist Key Stats
Avg. Salary / year $61,860
Avg. Pay / hour $29.74
Education 4+ Years
Job Outlook 5%

When you become a human resources generalist, you can expect a varied career that will see you attending to many aspects of this field.

A human resources generalist is the jack of all trades within a HR department.

They help out with many different parts of a department, and make sure that efforts are coordinated and that the best possible outcomes are always reached.

A human resources department has a lot of responsibilities.

The larger a company is, the longer the list becomes.

They work to find and recruit the best employees for open roles in the company, and also work to keep staff retention rates high.

They provide counseling services for staff, and handle any issues a staff member could have.

They also are responsible for employee health and safety.

Perhaps the most important skill required in this industry is communication.

When you become a human resources generalist you will be working with people from many different backgrounds that bring different attitudes to their work.

Being able to understand people’s perspective is essential.

You will also need to be very organized, and show attention to small details.

Problem solving skills are also good in this role, as well as the ability to think on your feet.

Education Requirements to Become a Human Resources Generalist

A humanities based education is a good background to have if you wish to become a human resources generalist.

If you’re in high school, subjects like psychology and English are helpful, as are business subjects which will help you understand the inner-workings of companies better.

To gain an entry level role in human resources you’ll need a four year human resources degree from an accredited college.

Elective subjects in business or psychology are always a good choice.

Your coursework at college will cover many aspects of employment law, recruitment, and occupational health and safety.

Another educational path to become a human resources generalist is to complete a degree within humanities.

For instance, you might have a major in English, psychology, or sociology.

You could then complete a postgraduate master’s in human resources.

This kind of education in held in high regard by potential employers.

While you are at college, taking internships or any work experience that you can get is particularly helpful.

It will really make a difference on your resume, and also help you gain some experience.

To move on to more advanced roles in your career, you’ll most likely need a postgraduate qualification such as a human resources masters degree.

Human Resources Generalist Job Description

A human recourses generalist completes many different duties within a human resources department.

They often supervise human resources assistants or trainees.

Some of their duties could include recruitment and payroll, along with counseling and terminating employees where necessary.

They settle employee disputes and also handle other inquiries.

Making sure that health and occupational safety requirements are met is also an important part of this role.

Here are some of the duties of a human resources generalist:

  • Hiring and recruitment
  • Employee counseling and termination
  • Writing position descriptions
  • Handling employee benefit packages
  • Determining key performance indicators
  • Helping employees with questions
  • Ensuring legal obligations are met
  • Meeting occupational health and safety requirements

Human Resources Generalist Salary and Career Path

Your first job in human resources will most likely be as an assistant to another person in a HR department.

To become a human resources generalist, you will need to spend a few years gaining experience first.

After you have got a feel for the many different aspects of human resources, you could be expected to be promoted.

Working for a larger company will definitely mean more opportunities.

Many smaller companies may only employ a few HR staff members.

Some human resources employees go on to work in management positions at a higher level.

Some work in recruitment later on, even starting their own company.

Many use their experience to work in staff training.

When you first start working in human resources, your entry level salary would be about $35,000 a year.

A human resources generalist could expect to earn around $50,000 a year.

A human resources manager could expect a salary of $95,000.

The top 10% of earners in the human resources field make over $150,000 a year.

Some similar roles to that of human resources generalist include:

If you have strong interpersonal skills, looking for a job where you get to work with all types of people, and want a secure role with room for promotion and professional development, then you might like to become a human resources generalist.

BLSThe below information is based on the 2021 BLS national averages.

  • Annually
  • Monthly
  • Hourly

National Average Salary


Average Salary by State

StateAvg. Annual Salary
District of Columbia$99,620
New Hampshire$71,400
New Jersey$83,740
New Mexico$61,620
New York$84,200
North Carolina$66,000
North Dakota$65,400
Rhode Island$81,000
South Carolina$64,220
South Dakota$59,630
West Virginia$60,860
Puerto Rico$39,410
Virgin Islands$55,010

The top earning state in the field is District of Columbia, where the average salary is $99,620.

These are the top 5 earning states in the field:

District of Columbia - $99,620
New York - $84,200
Washington - $83,940
New Jersey - $83,740
California - $81,360
* Salary information based on the May 2021 Occupational Employment Statistics (OES) Survey for Human Resources Specialists, OCC Code 13-1071, BLS.
* Employment conditions in your area may vary.

Frequently Asked Questions

What does a human resources generalist do?

A human resources generalist is a specialist who manages the daily HR operations (the administration of the policies, programs, and procedures of the company).

Basically, an HR generalist is someone who ensures the development of the people that work for the organization.

The responsibilities of a human resources generalist usually include recruiting staff for the company; the professional development of the personnel (employee training, orientation, etc.); the development of the HR policy of the company; ensuring the safety and welfare of the employees; developing compensation and benefits systems, and so on.

A good human resources generalist should have impeccable communication skills, must be familiar with various computer programs; moreover, the specialist has to be well-organized and methodical in his or her approach.

How much do human resources generalists make?

On average, a human resources generalist makes a little more than $51.000 per year in the United States.

The salary would certainly depend on your level of education, experience, the company that you decide to work for, and on your job duties and responsibilities.

The more degrees and certifications a human resources generalist possesses, the higher the salary.

In general, the larger the company, the more the specialist gets paid; however, there are some cities that have higher average salaries (New York, Chicago, and Philadelphia, for example).

The HR Generalist is usually responsible for lower level functions and reports to the human resources manager.

How much does it cost to become a human resources generalist?

Usually, a bachelor’s degree is required, in case you want to become a human resources generalist.

A year in a university will cost you anywhere between $8.000 and $30.000 and even more depending on whether or not you are an in-state student, whether the institution is public or private, and on the overall prestige of the university.

Some companies require the HR generalist to have a master’s degree.

You can earn one for $30.000 and more.

A specialist should have strong computer skills.

There are plenty of courses that you can complete (both online and offline); the cost of the classes ranges from a few hundreds of dollars to thousands.

One private lesson can cost you around $70.

What is th demand for human resources generalists?

Between 2018 and 2028, the human resources generalist job market is expected to grow by 5% which is close to the national average.

There will be a demand for such specialists in the near future as the employment laws are becoming more complicated, as well as health coverage issues.

In case you decide to choose this career path, you might want to consider going for the professional, technical services or scientific industry.

How long does it take to become a human resources generalist?

To acquire a bachelor’s degree in business, human resources, or another related field you would need four years.

In case you decide to go for the master’s degree, you would need an additional year or two.

Computer courses (if you need those) can take you a couple of weeks or just a day, depending on your initial skills.

Jamie Willis
Career Specialist at BecomeopediaHi, my name is Jamie Willis, and I have been helping students find their perfect internships and education paths for the last ten years. It is a passion of mine, and there really is nothing better than seeing students of mine succeed with further studies.

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