Pursuing a career in HR Management - College SA
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Pursuing a career in HR Management

4 min read -
By Jacqui Smit - Copywriter for Optimi

Without hardworking and trained workers, organisations would have a difficult time reaching their goals and achieving success – human resources (also known as HR for short) broadly refers to the management of these workers. Generally speaking, this includes hiring workers, managing their benefits and financial compensation, and overseeing disciplinary action taken against employees.

HR, as an industry, is enjoying steady growth and, consequently, the number of jobs in the field is growing every year. Like any department, HR needs to be managed in and of itself, and that’s where HR managers come in. HR managers are responsible primarily for overseeing the numerous functions of an HR department. One of the critical purposes of human resource management is to ensure that all employees stay productive and happy in the workplace.

As a qualified HR manager, you can help employees develop their skills and grow their careers. This is an important position in any organisation and, if you have the right skills and drive, you will enjoy a high earning potential.

Career options, field predictions, and salaries

Types of HR careers

Outside of management, your typical HR department consists of various subdivisions, each of which can be considered a specialised field. These include:

  • Workforce planning: this is the process of analysing an organisation’s current workforce and determining its present and predicted needs.
  • HR development: this refers to using training, organisation and career development programmes to improve effectiveness on an individual and organisational level.
  • Employee relations: this subdivision specialises in managing workers’ relationships with one another, as well as the relationships between workers and managers.
  • Risk management: HR risk managers focus on identifying risks workers might present to the organisation and helping workers mitigate that risk.
  • Benefits administration and management: benefits specialists are primarily concerned with administering and managing worker benefits such as pension funds and medical aid schemes.
  • Payroll specialist: although the details of payroll are dealt with primarily by the accounting department, HR payroll specialists oversee the overall administration of payroll.
  • Training coordination and management: people in this subdivision are responsible for the planning and development of training plans for an organisation’s workers.


  • Compensation specialist: compensation specialists specialise in administering and managing worker compensation – that is, wages and/or salaries.
  • Recruitment and staffing: specialists in this field are dedicated to the process of hiring (and firing) employees based on the organisation’s needs.

Some specialists don’t fall neatly into one of these areas. For example, HR information systems specialists (HRIS) manage the computerised flow of information and reports about employees, their benefits, and programs, which involves multiple other divisions like the benefits division. Many options are available, depending on the area of HR that interests you most. And because the field of HR is changing and evolving constantly, you could find yourself changing the type of HR you do at any point in your career!

Field predictions

Like any field, HR is predicted by expert analysts to see specific developments occurring in the near future. Some are listed here:

  • Organisations will begin to make better use of workforce data: it is predicted that HR departments will increasingly utilise big data and analytics to structure and organise themselves. This means people interested in a career in HR will need to familiarise themselves with how to handle and analyse data and statistics.
  • Increased focus on leadership development: as organisations grow and evolve more quickly than ever before, it is predicted that HR departments will focus more intensely on leadership development programmes to ensure workers within an organisation can keep up with its growth.
  • The rise of flexibility and preparedness: the COVID-19 pandemic of 2020 has shown us what HR analysts have predicted for some time now – HR departments will begin to focus more on flexibility within organisations (like working from home), as well as disaster preparedness. As part of this, managing remote workforces will increasingly become the norm, and HR managers will have to adapt accordingly.
  • In-house HR will downsize, and outsourcing will increase: this means that people interested in a career in HR will need to be aware that they will probably find better opportunities for success in an outsourcing agency – rather than in an organisation’s HR department – and prepare themselves accordingly.
  • The pendulum will swing back to the specialist: HR analysts have noticed a cycle of HR departments and agencies focusing on either HR generalist practitioners or niche HR specialists. It is predicted that the HR industry is moving once again towards the popularity of specialists, which has significant implications for workers in the industry, both general and specialist.


As with any career, it is hard to pinpoint an accurate figure when it comes to salaries. However, in general, you can expect the following salaries for each HR career:

  • HR consultant: R25 000 p/m
  • HR generalist: R25 000 p/m
  • HR manager: R35 000 p/m
  • Benefits administrator/manager: R20 000 p/m – R40 000 p/m (depending on seniority)
  • Compensation specialist: R40 000 p/m
  • HR development specialist: R35 000 p/m
  • Employee relations manager: R35 000 p/m
  • Recruitment specialist: R35 000 p/m
  • Training specialist: R35 000 p/m

Advantages / Disadvantages

Although HR is such a broad field, there are definite advantages and disadvantages that most, if not all, HR careers have in common. Advantages include high earning potential, helping people achieve their true potential (this will appeal to the altruists among us), and creating balance in the workforce – this is particularly important in a country like South Africa where diversity in the workplace has historically been all but non-existent.

However, there are some disadvantages – regardless of the size of the HR department you might work for or manage, workloads in all HR careers are enormous, and with that comes a lot of stress, as you are responsible for both the organisation and its workers’ wellbeing. Balancing management’s and workers’ interests, as well as resolving workplace conflicts, can also be stressful. It is also a very competitive field.

Study options

College SA offers an accredited HR course. This course is designed to give you a better understanding of the human resource industry and equip you with the skills needed to take on the role and responsibilities of a human resource manager. Even if you are not looking to study HR management specifically, our courses will help you understand the different subdivisions of which HR consists.

The benefits of studying with College SA include:

  • Convenience: as we are a distance-learning institution, you will study from home at your own pace and in your own time.
  • Affordability: our courses have monthly instalment payment options, meaning you don’t have to pay for the entire course upfront.
  • Ease of enrolment: it is easy to enrol with College SA – simply fill in the online form, and an educational planner will call you to begin the enrolment process.
  • Student support: our educational planners are happy to give you any support you might need for your studies.
  • No registration closing dates: at College SA, you can register for a course – and begin studying – at any time during the year.