Human Resources Generalist vs Human Resources Specialist

human resources generalist vs specialist

Professionals in the human resources field can choose from many varied careers and specializations. HR professionals can choose to work as generalists or they can choose to specialize in a specific aspect of human resources practice.

A human resources generalist education is typically broad in scope, students work to accumulate skills and knowledge in a wide variety of human resources theory and practice including; hiring, training and retention, policy development, strategic planning, benefits management, and conflict resolution.

Human resources specialists are typically required to possess in depth skills in a specific area of human resources practice. Human resources specialists might pursue an educational path that helps prepare them to perform a specific organizational role, like a benefits and compensation manager, or leadership training consultant; or they might choose undertake a course of study that prepares them to pursue a career in a specific industry, like healthcare or energy.

What Is The Difference between a Human Resources Generalist and Human Resources Specialist?

Roles and job duties of HR professionals vary depending on whether HR professionals are specialists of generalists. Different facets of the HR field come with their own unique responsibilities and job roles. For instance, human resource generalists are typically expected to be adept in multiple areas of the HR field. HR generalists typically have a varied daily routine that requires them to perform many different job duties, while human resource specialists usually have a well-defined job role that is similar every day.

Human Resources Generalist Salary vs. Human Resources Specialist Salary

Just as job duties vary between human resources generalists and human resources specialists, so do their various compensation packages and salaries. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics human resource specialists and labor relations specialists earned a median annual salary of $55,640.00 per year in 2012. The salaries of HR specialists can vary depending on their skill level and the demand for that specific position. One example of potential earnings for an HR specialist is that of a compensation and benefits manager. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, benefits and compensation mangers earned a median annual salary of $95,250 in 2012.

HR generalists’ salaries can also vary depending on the position in which the HR professional is employed. Human resource generalists can work in entry-level positions such as HR assistants or in higher-level positions such as HR managers. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, HR Managers earned a median annual salary of $99,720 in 2012.

For those interested in pursuing careers as HR professionals it is not necessary to decide at the outset of their endeavor whether they wish to pursue a career as an HR specialist or an HR generalist. One career development approach HR professionals might employ is to first work as an Human resources generalist, so they might have opportunities to gain exposure to many of the different areas of specialization within the field. Working as a generalist may help the professional discover where their interests and talents lie. If they make such a discovery the HR professional can then choose to seek additional training in order to develop their expertise in a particular specialization. If you are interestedin being a Human Resource Generalist or an HR Specialist please review Masters Degrees below!

Human Resources Management Graduate Programs


About the Author: Svetlana Pham is a New Jersey based freelance writer. She has a BA in English from Rutgers University and an J.D. from New York Law School.

Find Schools