Organizational Wellness

Six Human Resource Career Paths to You Can Follow

Mar 29, 2023
Last Updated Jun 1, 2023

So you want to join the world of HR? First off, welcome! It’s a wonderful career for so many reasons. 

Second, it’s good to know that there are many paths under the umbrella of ‘human resource careers’. Some of these paths share similar roles and tasks, while others are distinctly their own. Finding the right HR job for you can take some time and research — which you’ve already started by reading this article, so great work! 

Let’s explore the various HR career paths (and the roles you might have along the way) so you can decide which best aligns with your interests and experience. 

How to Start a Career in Human Resources

Starting your HR career often begins with a degree in human resources management or a related field, such as business administration or psychology. Most employers require a bachelors or masters degree, but some will accept an associate degree.

HR certifications are also helpful. One popular place to get an HR certification is theSociety for Human Resource Management (SHRM). This program offers two levels of certification — Certified Professional (CP), which is for people early in their HR career journey, and Senior Certified Professional (SCP), which is for current and emerging HR leaders. Such certifications can help you stand out in the job market by demonstrating your commitment to professional development.

In addition to education and certifications, a successful HR professionalpossesses the following key traits and capabilities: 

  • A desire to keep up with industry knowledge in an ever-changing landscape. 
  • Excellent interpersonal and leadership skills
  • Work experience or training to manage the expectations of different teams within the organization
  • An ability to adequately handle difficult conversations in a professional manner 
  • A self-awareness and capacity to spot their own biases to make fair and impartial decisions 

While the amount you can earn in HR depends on many things — including level of experience,  position, company size, company, geographic location, and industry — the average HR manager in the U.S. earns about $80,000annually, according to Glassdoor. 

Generalist Human Resource Career Paths

The human resources generalist career path is a great starting point for those interested in the human resources field. HR generalists are responsible for a wide range of tasks, including recruitment, onboarding and training new employees, developing policies, managing employee benefits, and resolving any workplace disputes. They act as a liaison between their organization and the workforce and are typically considered the ‘go-to’ person for HR-related questions.

Human Resources Assistant

The Human Resources Assistant (HR assistant) is a great entry-level position for someone looking to get their feet wet in this field. Assistants typically provide administrative support to higher-level HR personnel, such as setting up meetings, maintaining employee files, and ensuring compliance with organizational policies. HR Assistants also help onboard new employees by providing them with necessary paperwork and orientation materials.

Human Resources Manager

A Human Resources Manager’s responsibilities extend far beyond that of the typical administrative tasks of an HR Assistant. 

HR Managers oversee the development and implementation of organizational policies and procedures, managing employee performance, and providing training and guidance to other HR staff. They are also involved in the recruitment and onboarding of new employees, managing employee benefits programs, and ensuring compliance with applicable laws and regulations

Those in this role also act as a point of contact for employees and management when resolving disputes or grievances. In addition, they develop competitive compensation packages based on their organization’s budget.

Employee Relations and Benefits Career Paths in Human Resources

The employee relations and benefits path focuses on benefits administration, compensation, and recruitment benefit packages. They work to increase employee satisfaction, retention, and motivation. Professionals in these roles are familiar with creating competitive compensation packages, employee benefits, and employee engagement programs.  

Benefits Administrators

Benefits Administrators are responsible for overseeing an organization’s benefits program. They coordinate with insurance providers to ensure employees have accurate and up-to-date benefits information, and that the company’s benefits package complies with state and federal regulations.

Benefits Managers

Benefits Managers are responsible for developing, implementing, and evaluating an organization’s benefits programs. They must be well-versed in benefit topics like health and wellness programs, retirement plans, and other employee benefits. They also monitor the cost of benefits to ensure that the organization is spending its benefits budget effectively.

Payroll Career Paths in Human Resources

The payroll path is sometimes built into other HR roles, but it can be a sole position in larger human resources departments. These roles are likely uninvolved in hiring but lightly involved in other employee relations. When onboarding new hires, for example, a payroll administrator might show employees on how to access the paystub portal.

Payroll Administrator

A Payroll Administrator – the first step in this specialization – is responsible for processing employee payroll data. This includes managing the payment of wages, setting up new employees on payroll systems, and ensuring that taxes and deductions are calculated correctly.

Payroll Team Lead or Head

The Payroll Team Lead is responsible for overseeing a company’s payroll policies, staffers, day-to-day operations. They help train and mentor new payroll staff, manage relevant records, review and approve time sheets, and ensure all payroll processing complies with applicable laws. In cases where payroll conflicts arise, they provide a solution. 

Learning and Development Career Paths in Human Resources

In the learning & development (L&D) path, professionals are responsible for developing and delivering employee training programs. They have a deep understanding of the organization’s business goals and objectives, which they use to create compelling and impactful training experiences. 

Organizational Development Specialist or Manager

Working as an Organizational Development Specialist is typically the first role in this HR career path. Those in this role are responsible for developing and implementing employee training programs, analyzing current learning methods, and suggesting improvements. They also act as a resource for managers within the organization by providing coaching and guidance during HR initiatives.

Organizational Development Head

The Organizational Development Head (OD Head) leads their team in the creation, implementation, and evaluation of employee education programs. The OD Head also works closely with other departments to identify need or demand for training in specific departments, such as identifying areas in which customer service reps need more training. If satisfaction scores are low, for example, training might be needed to hone communication and interpersonal skills. 

Chief Learning Officer

The Chief Learning Officer (CLO) is responsible for leading and managing all aspects of L&D in an organization. This is a senior-level position that typically requires many years of experience. CLOs develop organizational strategies, manage budgets, and evaluate the effectiveness of employee training programs. They are also responsible for ensuring that the organization’s learning & development initiatives comply with industry standards and government regulations.

Operations, Labor Relations, and Compliance Career Paths in Human Resources 

The labor relations and compliance path in human resources species in facilitating corporate compliance with labor laws and regulations. HR professionals in this path advise and guide their organization through matters of legal compliance. They monitor regulatory changes that impact their organization and develop strategies for updating policies and managing risk accordingly.

Human Resources Officer

The Human Resources Officer is responsible for maintaining employee records, ensuring compliance with labor regulations, and resolving disputes between employees. They guide managers in recruitment and selection, payroll, benefits administration, and employee relations.

Human Resources Business Partner

The Human Resources Business Partner (HRBP) is an HR jack of all trades that is either hired as an in-house employee or outsourced from a professional employer organization. An HRBP is responsible for developing and implementing strategies that mitigate or reduce employment-related risks. They know industry trendsthat help them make informed decisions and take on some of the administrative workload of an HR department. 

Chief Human Resources Officer 

When climbing the ladder of HR positions in this path, you may eventually end up as Chief Human Resources Officer (CHRO), overseeing — among other things — all staff, company culture, and compensation structure.

Recruiting and Talent Acquisition Career Paths in Human Resources Path

Recruiting and talent acquisition professionals are in charge of staffing their organization. Professionals in these roles have a deep understanding of recruiting strategies, writing job descriptions, networking, and interviewing techniques. They know how to filter through resumes and identify top candidates in a way that fosters diversity in their workforce.


Recruiters are responsible for identifying, sourcing, interviewing, and selecting qualified candidates for open positions. They stay up-to-date on the job market and workforce trends, knowledge they use to build an effective recruiting strategy for their organization. Their work complies with legal regulations pertaining to recruiting and hiring, such as Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO)guidelines.

Diversity & Inclusion Roles 

Diversity & Inclusion (DI) roles promote diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging(DEIB) within the organization. Some organizations incorporate this within their current recruiting roles. Others hire dedicated DEIB staffers in-house or employ outside consultants. Professionals in this role promote inclusivity in collaboration with other departments on corporate policies and initiatives, and foster a sense of belonging among all employees. DI Specialists and Managers also provide training on diversity and inclusion topics to further an organization’s values and goals.

Talent Manager

Talent Managers focus on developing and executing an organization’s talent acquisition strategy. They oversee the entire recruiting process, from sourcing to onboarding and beyond. Talent Managers also work closely with other departments to ensure the organization attracts top talent and provides a positive employee experience.

Head of Talent

The Head of Talent (also known as a Chief Talent Officer) leads an organization’s talent acquisition strategy. They oversee everything from recruiting, to workforce planning and analytics, and from performance management to diversity and inclusion initiatives. This role requires a deep understanding of employment laws and regulations, as well as current job market trends, to ensure an organization is attracting and retaining talent.

The Secret Ingredients to HR Success

A preliminary step on any human resource career path is absorbing the secret ingredients to HR success: networking, lifelong learning, and keeping employees happy.

And keeping employees happy is really what the job is all about, is it not? 

Offering attractive benefits packages, competitive salaries, and career development opportunities is essential to employee satisfaction. A great way to keep your employees engaged and motivated is to provide a wellness package that improves their work-life wellness journey. If you want to learn more, contact a Gympasswellbeing specialisttoday!



Gympass Editorial Team

The Gympass Editorial Team empowers HR leaders to support worker wellbeing. Our original research, trend analyses, and helpful how-tos provide the tools they need to improve workforce wellness in today's fast-shifting professional landscape.


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