Best-Paid HR Positions

Best Paid HR Positions
Best Paid HR Positions

When mapping out your career plan, you might’ve ambiguously left your final goal as “Human Resources Director” or “Chief HR Officer.” But are those truly the end-all-be-all positions for HR roles? 

Not necessarily. Though they may sound the most prestigious, certain other HR roles offer salaries on par with these executive roles – for a fraction of the competition.  

As an HR employee or manager climbing the ranks, objectively knowing the most well-paying HR positions can help you adjust your present career trajectory to put you on the path to financial success rather than an empty title. To that end, we’ve researched and curated a list of the best-paid HR positions to help you plan the final steps of your career path.   

Top 10 Best-Paid HR Positions 

In general, we would assume that the ranking for wages would follow the HR department hierarchy, which typically goes as follows: 

  • Vice president 
  • Director 
  • Manager 
  • Specialist 
  • Assistant 

But while this job-wage correlation is a good rule of thumb, certain specializations and considerations can shake up the ranking, especially in middle management positions. Let’s take a look at an objective list of the top 10 best-paid HR positions by average annual salary, data courtesy of Indeed.  

Vice President of Human Resources $150,452 
Vice President of Recruiting $116,926 
Compensation Manager $101,577 
Director of Recruiting $99,943 
Director of Human Resources $99,046 
Labor Relations Specialist $95,511 
Human Resources Business Partner $86,105 
Learning and Development Manager $82,710 
Human Resources Manager $80,198 
Recruitment Manager $72,023 

To little surprise, Vice President job titles take the top two spots, with Vice President of Human Resources soaring ahead of the pack at an annual salary of approximately $150,000 in exchange for the complete purview of all HR functions at a company. Larger companies and holding groups with many roles to fill will also pay a hefty sum —$116,000— for a VP of recruiting or talent acquisition.  

Surprisingly, our third place goes to a manager title: Compensation Manager, which includes both Compensation and Wage Managers and Compensation and Benefits Managers. Employers and employees alike are greatly concerned with managing employee pay and benefits following strict legal standards, so it’s no wonder that this role is valued so highly.  

Next comes our Director roles for Recruiting and HR, which are one step down from their vice president roles and internally execute the strategies and goals set by their vice presidents. Naturally, their wages are also a bit lower.  

In sixth and seventh place are our roles for HR laws, the Labor Relations Specialist and HR Business Partner. These positions study labor policies and HR laws to ensure a company fully complies with employment regulations, and serve as intermediaries between employers and employees and upper management and HR, respectively.   

Finally, our last three spots are taken by our managerial roles: Learning and Development Managers, HR Managers, and Recruitment Managers who work with employees to implement the strategies set by directors and VPs. 

How Do I Get a Higher-Paid Position? 

For those aiming for these high-level positions, we have two tips: focus on developing high-level skills, and go into a specialized industry.  

1: Develop High-Level Skills 

The first tip should be fairly obvious: if you’re aiming for a managerial or leadership position, take care to develop the requisite skills to match.   

For soft skills, look for opportunities to practice and demonstrate your talents in communication, decision-making, problem-solving, time management, analysis, leadership, and interpersonal relations. 

For hard skills, gain proficiency in common HR office tools such as Microsoft Office, Kronos, and your company’s HRIS and ERP systems. Practice your basic recruiting and succession planning skills, which you’ll likely need regardless of specialization.  

If you’re just starting out in your HR career but aiming high, check out these guides to managing HR to help put you on the right track to success. 

2: Specialize Your Talents and Industry 

Beyond general high-level skills, specializing your HR skillset and industry can also nab you a higher-paying position.  

In our top 10 ranking, we saw that, sans the Vice President of HR role, specialists in recruiting, compensation, labor management, and L&D made more than equivalent job titles for general Human Resources. In the Compensation Manager’s case, a specialized manager even outearned two director roles! 

In other words, a viable strategy for optimizing your career is to specialize in a specific function of HR that you enjoy, rather than being a jack-of-all-trades. On top of boosting your own personal job satisfaction, you can be assured that you’ll be more qualified for the role than a generalist applying for the same position. From workplace appreciation to managing day-to-day activities in the office, it will all be your duty. 

Additionally, companies in more niche industries will pay more for HR specialists. For example, according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, while an HR manager in manufacturing makes an annual salary of $125,000, an HR manager in professional, scientific, and technical services makes an annual salary of $133,000.   

Of course, this usually has the caveat of expertise or experience in the industry itself. Rather than making the jump across industries at a higher level, entry-level HR professionals could make the leap to a specialized industry and work their way up, gaining industry-specific knowledge along the way. 


A fancy title in HR doesn’t always mean the best salary – though Vice President roles do pay the highest, beyond that, pay can be uncorrelated from hierarchical positions: a specialized manager can outearn a director, and an operational specialist can outearn a manager. So if you’re an HR employee looking to maximize your future earnings, honing specialized industry-specific skills on top of general leadership skills could put you on the fast track to financial success. 


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