Difference Between HR Executive & HR Manager

HR executives and HR managers both contribute to and oversee the work performed in a human resources department. They do things like help secure and retain qualified employees for their company, but have different levels of authority and responsibility.

Comparing HR Executives to HR Managers

HR executives and HR managers both work in human resources. The primary difference between these professionals is that HR executives are required to have more experience before moving into their role, and they supervise HR staff, including HR managers, as part of their duties.

Job Title Educational Requirements Median Salary (2017)** Job Outlook (2014-2024)*
HR Executives Bachelor's or Master's Degree $128,066 (for executive directors, human resources) 5% (for human resource specialists)
HR Managers Bachelor's Degree $64,565 9%

Sources: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics; **

Responsibilities of HR Executives vs. HR Managers

HR executives and HR managers are professionals who deal with employment matters on an administrative level. Those who occupy either of these roles may be involved in determining how to get qualified staff to work at their company, and they may also work on budgets and set salaries that are intended to help their company retain experienced staff. They also work on employee benefit packages to ensure that staff members have the chance to sign up for benefits or to improve the benefit packages offered to the employees in their company. They must maintain staff records and document their organization's policies. HR executives are ultimately responsible for overseeing the entire staff in the HR department and the work that they do.

HR Executives

In order to become an HR executive it's necessary to have a bachelor's or master's degree in human resources or a similar discipline. Five years or more of direct experience working in human resources is also required. HR executives oversee the work done by human resources staff and are responsible for ensuring the human resources department is performing as expected. They primarily work in an office and typically work Monday to Friday during the day. HR executives need to have good listening skills and the ability to assess information in order to make good decisions.

Job responsibilities of an HR executive include:

  • Developing company programs
  • Training staff
  • Creating or modifying staff benefits
  • Addressing staff complaints
  • Negotiating with unions if applicable
  • Completing paperwork

HR Managers

HR managers work as part of the human resources team for companies and organizations. They spend most of their time performing tasks in an office, and normally work regular weekday hours. In order to become an HR manager it's necessary to have a bachelor's degree in a subject such as human resources. They work on matters related to the staff employed by their organization. For example, they may be involved in reviewing employment laws to ensure that their company isn't violating the rights of employees.

Job responsibilities of an HR manager include:

  • Ensuring effective procedures are in place regarding employee conduct
  • Reviewing benefit plans
  • Ensuring employees have the option to sign up for benefit plans
  • Identifying ways to attract qualified applicants
  • Addressing staff discipline and investigating staff complaints
  • Supervising and coordinating support staff

Related Careers

Those who are interested in becoming an HR executive or an HR manager may also be interested in considering a career as a labor relations specialist or mediator. Labor relations specialists help address issues between employees and management, while mediators work with parties in all types of disputes and try to help them reach agreements about how to resolve their conflicts.

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