Human Resources Assistants, Except Payroll and Timekeeping
About 1 out of 4 work for Federal, State, and local governments.
Employment will grow as human resources assistants assume
Computer, communication, and interpersonal skills are important.
Nature of the Work
Human resources assistants maintain the human resource records
of an organization’s employees. These records include information
such as name, address, job title, and earnings; benefits such
as health and life insurance; and tax withholding. On a daily
basis, these assistants record information and answer questions
about employee absences and supervisory reports on employees’
job performance. When an employee receives a promotion or switches
health insurance plans, the human resources assistant updates
the appropriate form. Human resources assistants also may prepare
reports for managers elsewhere within the organization. For example,
they might compile a list of employees eligible for an award.
In small organizations, some human resources assistants perform
a variety of other clerical duties, including answering telephone
or written inquiries from the public, sending out announcements
of job openings or job examinations, and issuing application forms.
When credit bureaus and finance companies request confirmation
of a person’s employment, the human resources assistant provides
authorized information from the employee’s personnel records.
Assistants also may contact payroll departments and insurance
companies to verify changes to records.
Some human resources assistants are involved in hiring. They
screen job applicants to obtain information such as their education
and work experience; administer aptitude, personality, and interest
tests; explain the organization’s employment policies and refer
qualified applicants to the employing official; and request references
from present or past employers. Also, human resources assistants
inform job applicants, by telephone or letter, of their acceptance
for or denial of employment.
In some job settings, human resources assistants have specific
job titles. For example, assignment clerks notify a firm’s
existing employees of upcoming vacancies, identify applicants
who qualify for the vacancies, and assign those who are qualified
to various positions. They also keep track of vacancies that arise
throughout the organization, and they complete and distribute
forms advertising vacancies. When filled-out applications are
returned, these clerks review and verify the information in them,
using personnel records. After a selection for a position is made,
they notify all of the applicants of their acceptance or rejection.
As another example, identification clerks are responsible
for security matters at defense installations. They compile and
record personal data about vendors, contractors, and civilian
and military personnel and their dependents. The identification
clerk’s job duties include interviewing applicants; corresponding
with law enforcement authorities; and preparing badges, passes,
and identification cards.
Human resources assistants usually work in clean, pleasant, and
comfortable office settings. Assistants usually work a standard
35- to 40-hour week. Prolonged exposure to video display terminals
may lead to eyestrain for assistants who work with computers.
Training, Other Qualifications, and Advancement
Most employers prefer applicants with a high school diploma or
GED. Generally, training beyond high school is not required. However,
training in computers, in filing and maintaining filing systems,
in organizing, and in human resources practices is desirable.
Proficiency using Microsoft Word, Excel, and other computer applications
also is very desirable. Many of these skills can be learned in
a vocational high school program aimed at office careers, and
the remainder can be learned on the job.
Formal training is available at a small number of colleges, most
of which offer diploma programs in office automation. Many proprietary
schools also offer such programs.
Human resources assistants must be able to interact and communicate
with individuals at all levels of the organization. In addition,
assistants should demonstrate poise, tactfulness, diplomacy, and
good interpersonal skills in order to handle sensitive and confidential
Human resources assistants held about 172,000 jobs in 2004. About
1 out of 4 work for Federal, State, and local governments. Other
jobs for human resources assistants were in various industries
such as health care; management of companies and enterprises;
finance and insurance; and administrative and support services.
Employment of human resources assistants is expected to grow
about as fast as average for all occupations through 2014, as
assistants assume more responsibilities. For example, workers
conduct Internet research to locate resumes, they must be able
to scan resumes of job candidates quickly and efficiently, and
they must be increasingly sensitive to confidential information
such as salaries and Social Security numbers. In a favorable job
market, more emphasis is placed on human resources departments,
thus increasing the demand for assistants. However, even in economic
downturns there is demand for assistants, as human resources departments
in all industries try to make their organizations more efficient
by determining what type of employees to hire and strategically
filling job openings. Human resources assistants may play an instrumental
role in their organization’s human resources policies. For example,
they may talk to staffing firms and consulting firms, conduct
other research, and then offer their ideas on issues such as whether
to hire temporary contract workers or full-time staff.
As with other office and administrative support occupations,
the growing use of computers in human resources departments means
that much of the data entry that is done by human resources assistants
can be eliminated, as employees themselves enter the data and
send the electronic file to the human resources office. Such an
arrangement, which is most feasible in large organizations with
multiple human resources offices, could limit job growth among
human resources assistants.
In addition to positions arising from job growth, replacement
needs will account for many job openings for human resources assistants
as they advance within the human resources department, take jobs
unrelated to human resources administration, or leave the labor
Median annual earnings of human resources assistants in May 2004
were $31,750. The middle 50 percent earned between $25,780 and
$38,770. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $21,250 and the
highest 10 percent earned more than $45,780. Median annual earnings
in the industries employing the largest number of human resources
assistants in May 2004 were:
Elementary and secondary schools
Management of companies and enterprises
General medical and surgical hospitals
In 2005, the Federal Government typically paid salaries ranging
from $20,984 to $88,103 a year. Beginning human resources assistants
with a high school diploma or 6 months of experience were paid an
average annual salary of $20,984. The average salary for all human
resources assistants employed by the Federal Government was $36,576
Some employers offer educational assistance to human resources
Human resources assistants maintain the personnel records of
an organization’s employees. On a daily basis, these assistants
record information and answer questions about employee absences
and supervisory reports on employees’ job performance. Other workers
with similar skills and expertise in interpersonal relations include
bookkeeping, accounting, and auditing clerks; communications equipment
operators; customer service representatives; data entry and information
processing workers; order clerks; receptionists and information
clerks; secretaries and administrative assistants; stock clerks
and order fillers; and tellers.
Sources of Additional Information
For information about human resource careers and certification,
Society for Human Resource Management, 1800 Duke St., Alexandria,
VA 22314. Internet: http://www.shrm.org/
Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor,
Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2006-07