what is an HR generalist?

An HR generalist is a type of HR worker who is capable of handling every single part of HR. Unlike some other HR workers who specialize in a certain area, HR generalists can manage any HR task. HR generalists do many things, including:

- hiring and onboarding staff
- managing pay and tracking employee hours
- handling employee scheduling and leave
- running performance evaluations
- enforcing workplace policies

This job has a lot of variety and is an excellent option for people who excel at multitasking, communication, and management. One day you could be interviewing employees about an alleged workplace infringement, and another day you'll be filing out tax forms. Instead of doing the same thing day after day, you're able to use all your different skills to succeed in different areas.

Most HR generalists work at smaller companies that want a single person to run their HR department. However, you also have the option of working in larger departments where you fill in for a variety of coworkers and rotate between various tasks.

Would working as an HR generalist suit your excellent interpersonal and management skills? Then read on to find out what competencies and qualifications you need to thrive in an HR generalist role.

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average HR generalist salary

Being an HR generalist allows you to earn a higher-than-average salary. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the average wage for an HR generalist is roughly $62,000. When you take into account the hours most HR generalists work, the average hourly wage is $30 per hour. Some generalists make a higher salary of around $108,000 while the lowest-paid HR generalists usually make at least $37,000. The salary for an HR generalist tends to depend on the type of work you're doing. Especially in smaller businesses, HR generalists may take on some of the tasks of an HR manager. In these cases, their salary might be towards the higher end of the pay spectrum.

HR generalist salary by industry

Where you work has a big impact on your wages. Some industries pay their HR generalists more than others do. Here are the average salaries for the five industries that employ the most HR generalists:

  • science and technology: $77,000
  • government: $74,000
  • manufacturing: $72,000
  • healthcare: $57,000
  • employment services: $48,000

Would you like to know what an HR generalist earns? Where the highest salaries are paid for an HR generalist? Then check out this HR generalist salary page and find out all about the salary of an HR generalist in the USA.

group of colleagues having a conversation
group of colleagues having a conversation

types of HR generalist

Due to the generalized nature of the job, there aren't many types of HR generalists. Instead, most generalists fall into the same broad category of HR workers who do a little bit of everything. The only thing that distinguishes HR generalists is their experience and responsibilities. Junior HR generalists are usually generalists who work in an auxiliary role and provide assistance to all the other specialists in a large HR department. Senior HR generalists often take on a more managerial role. They may work independently or even oversee other coworkers.


working as an HR generalist

Interested in finding out more about being an HR generalist? Here are some important things to know about your responsibilities and work environment.


HR generalist skills and education

Being an HR generalist usually requires some training, so it's not a job you can easily get fresh out of high school. Most people find it easier to get a fulfilling HR generalist job if they have these qualifications:

  • education: The majority of HR generalist positions prefer candidates with a bachelor's degree. If you have a bachelor's specifically in human resources, it's often very easy to find jobs. Other popular degrees in the field include business, communication, or administration.
  • experience: Especially for senior positions, a lot of experience in the HR field is helpful. Even lower-level positions often require a few years of HR experience, and upper-level ones may require over five years. Often, the right type of experience allows you to get a job even if you do not have a bachelor's degree.
  • certifications: Many companies prefer to get certified HR generalists. Certifications from reputable institutions show that you have a lot of training even if you don't have much experience. Some popular institutions that offer HR certifications include the Human Resources Certification Institute, the SHRM, and the Human Resources Professional Association.

skills and competencies

This position involves using a lot of different skills simultaneously. If you want to do well as an HR generalist, it's important to have these qualities:

  • communication skills: Being able to communicate well is absolutely essential. Good HR generalists can express information clearly through conversations, calls, emails, and letters.
  • interpersonal skills: Being an HR generalist involves navigating a lot of complex relationships. You might end up solving employee disputes, talking about sensitive matters, or having to turn down job candidates. It's important to be professional, thoughtful, calm, and diplomatic when handling these matters.
  • organizational skills: Since you'll be handling such a broad range of tasks, organization is very useful. You need to be comfortable with everything from filing paperwork to managing a calendar. These organizational skills help you stay on top of all your tasks.
  • logical thinking skills: A lot of your job revolves around looking at regulations and business needs and helping the company adhere to these requirements. Being able to think logically, analyze situations, and solve problems is quite helpful.
  • technological skills: HR generalists benefit from knowing how to work with Microsoft Office programs and a variety of human resources information systems (HRIS). If you don't already know this software, you need to be capable of picking up new technology and learning new systems.
male working in an office
male working in an office

FAQs about working as an HR generalist

Here you will find answers to the most frequently asked questions about HR generalists.

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