Are you considering a change to the human resources field? It turns out: Location does make a difference.
Depending on where you live, the path to HR management may be further out of reach than for your professional peers just one state over. The reasons for this discrepancy vary and are impacted by local economic strength and regional job markets.
For an HR professional, knowing where the more lucrative jobs are located can open up high-salary work opportunities that don’t exist in some places. With the goal of discovering which states offer the best HR jobs, we went to the best dataset for the task and crunched the numbers on salaries and job availability in the HR sphere.
Our latest research compiles information from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) and the Occupational Employment Statistics resource to see which states, cities, and regions reward HR professionals for their efforts with the highest salaries.
Our entire findings can be found below.
From 2012 to 2018, the number of HR professionals increased by 42% while the average annual salary for someone working in HR increased by over $7,000 in the same period, a wage increase of 1.7% in 2018. Nationally, paychecks increased at a higher rate (2.6%), putting HR professionals in a slower-moving industry regarding annual salary. However, the industry has seen massive growth as human resources take on a more pivotal role within companies.
Over those seven years, the HR workforce grew 6%, outpacing the national average and indicating that HR professionals are becoming more and more in demand. In fact, nearly every business with employees needs one to manage interpersonal relationships and ensure adherence to workplace regulations and standards.
Despite this high demand, wages may not be increasing due to inaction by owners and CEOs. This can result in a wide range of salaries among people who hold the same HR title. Dissimilar wages can occur due to different industries and location-based factors, but bosses have a major impact on how salaries are divided, cut, and boosted.
Information services is becoming a larger and larger sector of the economy, and it appears to be sustaining HR managers’ salaries: The average HR worker in the information sector was paid $82,300 annually, the highest salary for HR employees in any industry. However, a minority of workers committed to this field. Information services employed just under 17,000 employees, while health care and social assistance comprised of over 47,000 more workers who earned around $27,000 less per year, on average.
Every aspect of the health care industry is growing, but wages continue to remain low, even for office workers in the medical field. Inversely, HR workers employed in utilities accounted for a small number in the workforce but were paid handsomely. Characterized with a competitive labor force and no shortage of valuable jobs compared to other industries, energy and utilities professionals earn extremely high wages when compared to the national workforce. This extends to all workers, including those in energy/utility HR.
By far, the most HR workers were employed by the administrative and support and waste management and remediation services industries, with over 121,000 people in the field. As the world moves toward sustainability and managing waste effectively, the workforce that oversees this sector is expanding astronomically.
Want the best chances of earning top dollars for your work in human resources? Move to the Northeast. According to BLS figures, eight of the top 10 states for HR management wages were in this region. As the employment rate for HR managers is expected to grow faster than in any other occupation, these states can expect favorable attention to their bustling HR industry.
On the other end of the scale, the top 10 states with the lowest HR management salaries were mostly in the South. Interestingly, West Virginia, Montana, Wyoming, and South Dakota also had the lowest concentrations of HR managers. This low employment rate paired with inadequate wages indicates these states may not completely understand the value of human resources or might not be able to allocate funds to obtain and keep HR managers.
We broke down geographical trends even further, establishing the best and worst metropolitan areas for HR managers to succeed. Quite a few major cities, such as Boston, New York City, San Francisco, Philadelphia, Washington, D.C, Denver, and San Jose, top the list, but it was actually Bridgeport-Stamford-Norwalk, Connecticut, that boasted the highest annual salary of over $182,000.
Nestled between New York City and New Haven, this tri-city metropolitan area is the most populous of Connecticut. It also holds the highest concentration of HR managers across all metro areas. This, coupled with the city’s higher-than-average per-capita earnings, means HR managers here benefit from extremely high wages.
On the low end, Florida claimed three of the bottom 10 metropolitan areas for HR management income, while Tennessee had two cities represented. The majority of the bottom 10 areas were low-population cities, especially when compared to the top 10 list. Three states in the bottom 10 had less than 100,000 residents, with the highest population being Pensacola-Ferry Pass-Brent, Florida (around 494,000), followed closely by Lafayette, Louisiana (over 490,000 residents). Lower population centers with low rates of growth have been shown to contribute to economic inequality and fewer chances of economic development.
When entering the field of HR, many workers who aim to stay in the industry have goals of HR supervisory positions. But a climb to the top of the HR ladder requires hard work and a good sense of interpersonal communication, which are rewarded with coveted management roles. To find the best states for HR professionals, we considered two main factors: supply (number of HR workers relative to the population) and demand (average annual compensation).
New Jersey boasted the highest salaries with a near-average number of HR employees in the workforce. Workers who earned the most in areas with fewer workers lived in Rhode Island, Delaware, and Colorado, while workers with the most competition with closer to average salaries lived in Minnesota and Illinois. Other states for strong HR industry climates included Georgia, New Hampshire, California, New York, Virginia, and Washington. All of these locations would be great for someone looking to start a career in HR.
However, the states with the most HR professionals who also earned the highest wages resided in Massachusetts and Connecticut. Many of the states mentioned also possess some of the strongest economies in the nation, such as Massachusetts (No. 3), Colorado (No. 1), New Hampshire (No. 4), Washington (No. 5), Minnesota (No. 7), and California (No. 8), among others.
As the BLS figures show, the HR field continues to be one of the fastest-growing industries nationwide. With that growth comes an industry in flux: Human resources workers are important assets to any office.
Feeling inspired to enter this competitive and booming industry? If this type of job seems appealing, and you’re looking for a change in career, head over to SimplyHired to take charge of your search for qualified HR jobs in your area. While not everyone can relocate on their own, many companies will compensate new hires with a travel/relocation stipend. Putting yourself out there in a new field may offer rewards beyond your imagination for your professional and personal life.
We collected data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Employment Statistics (OES). Data were collected on Sept. 23, 2019, and released by the BLS on March 29, 2019. Statistics reflect figures as of May of 2018.
For this study, we focused on statistics related to human resources-related occupations. Where noted, human resources workers refer to the broad occupational group 13-1070. Specific or detailed occupational groups examined included human resources specialists (13-1071) and human resources managers (11-3120).
No statistical testing was performed. As such, the research presented here is exploratory.
Does a career in HR seem appealing? Do you know someone who would benefit from this information? If so, send the results of this project their way. Be sure to mention our name when talking about our findings, and please only share this data for noncommercial purposes. Thank you!