Corporations would have difficulty filling executive and middle management jobs without headhunters, or executive recruiters. Headhunters contact companies about job vacancies, and then search for the most qualified candidates to fill those jobs. During this process, they place print and online ads, screen candidates, and arrange the interviews with client companies. If you want to become a headhunter, you will need to earn a bachelor's degree and get training in human resources and recruiting. In return, you can earn an above-average annual income.
Income and Qualifications
A headhunter is usually compensated on a 100 percent commission basis. The more jobs they fill for clients, the more they earn. That said, as of 2013, the average annual income of a headhunter according to the job website Indeed.com is $75,000. Indeed continuously computes average salaries for various jobs, so averages can include a combination of 2012 and 2013 salaries. The best way to qualify for a headhunter job is to earn a bachelor's degree in business, human resources, or a related field. Working for a corporate human resources department first to learn recruiting methods, ethics, and salary negotiation techniques is another path to a headhunting career. Overall, interpersonal, organization, and decision-making skills are highly desirable traits to have when seeking a career in this field.
Incomes for headhunters can vary considerably within the four main regions of the United States. In 2013, headhunters earned between $66,000 and $88,000 per year in the northeast region, according to Indeed -- with lows in Pennsylvania and highs in New York. If you worked in the west region, you would earn lows of $53,000 in Hawaii and highs of $82,000 in California. Headhunters earned $63,000 and $87,000 per year, respectively, in Louisiana and Mississippi, which represented low and high incomes in the south region. In the mid-west region salaries ranged from $58,000 per year in South Dakota to $79,000 in Illinois.
Experience is one of the main contributing factors to headhunters' salaries. With more experience, you would typically have larger client bases from which to work, which can dramatically increase your annual income when you find candidates to fill available jobs. Corporations might also prefer hiring experienced headhunters because of their successful track records, which helps them produce higher earnings than novices.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics lists personal recruiters under the category, "Human Resources Specialists," which can include headhunters or recruiters. That said, the number of jobs for human resources specialists are expected to increase 21 percent between 2010 and 2020, which is faster than the 14 percent national average. Moreover, jobs for those in the employment services industry -- which includes all headhunters -- are expected to increase by 55 percent. More companies are outsourcing their recruiting functions to headhunters and executive search firms, which will spur lots of new jobs for headhunters in the next decade.
- U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics: Human Resources Specialists: Job Outlook
- Job Profiles: Employment Services - Executive Recruiter (Headhunter)
- SearchUnitedStatesJobs.com: Executive Recruiter
- Indeed: Headhunter Salary
- Indeed: Headhunter Salary in Pennsylvania, and New York
- Indeed: Headhunter Salary in Hawaii, and California
- Indeed: Headhunter Salary in Louisiana, and Mississippi
- Indeed: Headhunter Salary in South Dakota, and Illinois
- Comstock Images/Comstock/Getty Images