Human Resources

The human resources (HR) industry in Australia has grown significantly over the last decade as organisations across all sectors have increasingly recognised how critical human resource management is to meeting overall company objectives.

An organisation’s human resources, or human capital, are the people employed by the organisation and what every organisation depends upon to operate successfully. HR management (HRM) refers to the activities and people that assist the organisation to meet its operational objectives by providing a motivated, well-trained workforce that understands the business and can contribute to its objectives.

HR is an area of continual change; it’s always responding to the business environment. From the significant economic changes of recent times (resulting in the restructuring of many Australian companies) through to continued government and media interest in executive remuneration, new technologies and ongoing legislative changes in industrial relations (IR), HR is increasingly central to the successful running of Australian organisations of all sizes.

The work

There is a diverse range of functional areas that falls under the HRM banner, including:

  • workforce planning and recruitment
  • occupational health and safety
  • risk management
  • selection and induction
  • performance management
  • training and development
  • remuneration and benefits
  • equal employment opportunity
  • human resources information systems (HRIS)
  • industrial relations
  • organisational change
  • international human resources management.

The direct route into a career in HRM is to undertake a specialised HR or business degree with a major in HR or IR and, from there, work experience in a base-level HR position. Junior positions may involve activities such as payroll administration and working with HRIS.

Many HR positions are created by growth in an organisation and by the realisation that there is a need to â€?look after the people’. In small to medium-sized organisations there is a tendency to appoint someone already employed within the organisation with a good understanding of the business to undertake HR activities, rather than recruit a specialist from outside the business.

(This profile also appears in GCA’s annual Graduate Opportunities directory. GCA would like to thank the Australian Human Resources Institute (AHRI) for assisting with this profile.)

What you need

  • Preferred: HR or business degree; widely accepted: Arts, Finance, Marketing, Psychology and Science degrees
  • A postgraduate course in human resources management (HRM) is highly recommended for graduates seeking to move into this area from a non-HR background
  • Strong business acumen is highly regarded

Graduate salary ranges for selected relevant occupations are as follows:

  • Human resources manager: $55,000–$80,000
  • Human resources professional: $41,500–$54,000
  • Occupational health and safety advisor: $46,500–$72,000
  • Training and development professional: $44,000–$65,000

(Figures taken from from the Australian Graduate Survey 2008, GCA. Ranges refer to the middle 50 per cent of salaries for bachelor degree graduates with permanent residency, in full-time employment in Australia October 2007 to April 2008.)

Industry at a glance

  • 53,900 HR professionals, 2008
  • 65% female workforce (HR clerks)
  • Positive outlook (88% growth: HR managers, 2004–09)


Further Resources

Careers for Human Resource Graduates