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I want to be an HR professional. What will my salary be?

It's not a paper-pushing job any more, you need to be able to connect to people and help manage change

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This story is part of the Globe Careers’ series looking at specific jobs, with their qualifications, descriptions, responsibilities and current salaries. For more, see our Salaries Series.

Job: Human Resources Professional

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Salary:
The salary starts at about $40,000 and after some experience can head well into the six-figure range, particularly for HR specialists that work for larger, global firms.

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Education:
“The ticket to open the door is a bachelor’s degree minimum these days,” says Philip Wilson, vice-president of HR and business development at HR consulting firm, Felix Global. An increasing number of HR people also have master’s degrees. Professionals also seek out the CHRP (Certified Human Resources Professional) designation as a key credential.

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The Job:
HR professionals help hire and fire, but the job is much broader, says Mr. Wilson. HR professionals help companies develop and carry out their strategic direction through employee programs. People start by helping with recruiting, then often specialize into areas such as change management and compensation.

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By the Numbers:
About 18 per cent of HR professionals are male and the remaining 82 per cent are female, according to a 2009 survey of members of the Human Resources Professional Association.

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Job Prospects:
HR jobs move in tandem with the economy. That means there are more jobs expected to crop up in this field in the coming years as Canada recovers from the 2008-2009 economic downturn.

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The number of HR professionals is rising, says both Mr. Wilson and Service Canada.
“The impact of the growing importance of HR management was almost offset by corporate mergers and the reduction in the number of managerial levels in firms. This trend is expected to continue, so the number of HR managers should continue to increase slightly over the next few years,” the government agency states.

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Challenges:
HR professionals have to keep their cool when dealing with angry employees and big changes, which is often when a company needs them most. “They need to be able to understand complex issues and defuse critical situations,” says Mr. Wilson.

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Why they do it:
It used to be that HR people chose the profession because they liked dealing with people, but that has changed, says Mr. Wilson. Like most professions, HR work is increasingly in front of computers. However, he says people are drawn by the challenge of changing an organization, as well as helping people and companies achieve professional and corporate goals.

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Misconceptions:
It’s not just about filling out personnel forms and hiring and firing staff. “HR is a much broader profession than that,” Mr. Wilson says, adding that the profession needs to do more to promote the value of its work on people, and the bottom line.

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Give us the real scoop:

Are you an HR professional in Canada?
Write a note in the comments area or e-mail your comment to careerquestion@globeandmail.com and tell us what you would tell others who are interested in the profession.
Want to read more stories from our Salaries Series? Click here.

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