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HR Administrator Vs HR Generalist

HR administrators and generalists work in the same department, but their tasks are usually focused in different areas. Discover more about how these two careers are closely related yet maintain distinction from one another.

Comparing HR Administrators to HR Generalists

Human resources (HR) administrators and generalists both work in the HR department at companies. However, what they do and whom they work with on a daily basis usually differs somewhat. Keep reading to find out what these differences might be, as well as detailed information about each position.

Job Title Education Requirements Median Salary (2017)** Job Growth (2014-2024)*
HR Administrator Bachelor's degree $47,985 9% (for all human resources managers)
HR Generalist Bachelor's degree $51,919 5% (for all human resources specialists)

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, **PayScale.com

Responsibilities of HR Administrators vs. HR Generalists

While they work together in some cases, HR administrators tend to work in a supporting role to an HR manager, helping them choose potential candidates. They usually work in an office. HR generalists, on the other hand, typically work with current employees performing tasks such as resolving worker conflicts. They also work in an office setting during normal business hours.

HR Administrator

HR administrators typically help an HR manager with their daily tasks. This means they may help train and settle new employees, a process sometimes referred to as onboarding. They may also assist with screening potential candidates before they are hired, often in a managerial capacity. HR administrators enroll new employees in company healthcare plans and also help current employees with questions about these plans. HR administrators typically help with planning and coordinating events within their companies. It is helpful for HR administrators to be organized and adept at basic word processing and data entry software programs.

Job responsibilities of an HR Administrator include:

  • Maintaining employee records
  • Helping with the firing or leave of absence processes
  • Maintaining data in spreadsheets
  • Looking over requests for time off
  • Creating job postings

HR Generalist

HR generalists typically work with current employees rather than new hires. They assist with resolving internal conflicts as well as offer counseling to employees. They are usually available to explain company policies and benefits to employees. They also conduct performance reviews and employee training as well as interview employees who are leaving the company. They may have to work on weekends or travel to different company locations.

Job responsibilities of an HR Generalist include:

  • Making sure that their company complies with federal or state regulations
  • Maintaining confidentiality
  • Having a moderate knowledge of computer software like word processing and spreadsheets
  • Performing audits of departments
  • Helping to supervise others in the HR department

Related Careers

Those interested in what an HR administrator does might look at the job of a career counselor, since both involve helping people get into their desired careers or jobs. Someone who likes what an HR generalist does might enjoy working as a psychiatrist because both work with people to help them solve problems.


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