As the economy goes, so goes HR.
That’s the word from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), which estimates that the number of HR specialist positions will grow by 28.3% between 2010 and 2020.
That means 61,600 new jobs and 36,700 replacement jobs over the next eight years. The BLS reports that, in 2010, there were 217,700 HR specialists employed in the United States.
“This is expected to be a rapid-growth field as the economy continues to recover from the recession,” according to U.S. News and World Report, which recently included HR specialist among its list of the “Top 25 Jobs of 2012.”
“These positions are increasingly specialized,” says the report. “And there is a good career advancement chain at larger companies.”
The report says that, while the HR field is growing again, it’s still a buyer’s market for HR positions these days. Many employers downsized over the past few years, and they have the ability to be picky when staffing back up.
“In the past, people could get into HR on purpose or sort of fall into the job. Today, you need specific qualifications,” says Deb Cohen, senior VP of knowledge development at the Society for Human Resource(SHRM), in the U.S. News report.
“The field is not just about liking people,” says Cohen. “It’s really about knowing the technical side of the job,” including employment laws and the employer’s business objectives.
Compensation. The median annual salary for HR specialists is $54,160, according to the U.S. Department of Labor. The highest paid 10% earned just under $90,000, while the lowest 10% earned just over $31,000 (see chart). The highest paid HR specialists all work in three metro areas of California: San Luis Obispo, San Jose and San Francisco.