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Difference Between HR Administrator & Manager

by Amanda Banach

HR administrator and HR manager are two common job titles held by human resources professionals. While both positions are tasked with essential job functions pertaining to legal compliance, staffing, benefits and employee relations, the administrator role typically ranks below the manager in the company’s organizational hierarchy chart. This usually results in the HR manager focusing primarily on the employer’s overall strategic initiatives whereas the HR administrator performs a combination of both administrative and strategic tasks.

Administrator Job Duties

Depending on the size and structure of an organization, an administrator may hold other job titles such as an HR generalist or HR specialist. Some administrators are responsible for all areas of human resources such as compensation, benefits administration, recruitment and compliance while others specialize in one specific discipline. Job duties may include anything from conducting job interviews, processing payroll, responding to employee questions or administering company benefit plans.

Manager Job Duties

It’s not uncommon for there to be some overlap among human resources business partners, however HR managers typically are able to exercise more autonomy in their decisions than administrators. In addition to managing the human resources department, common job duties include consulting with managers and executives regarding strategic planning, minimizing legal risk by updating and maintaining policies and procedures and handling escalated disciplinary issues. Managers, also referred to as directors in some organizations, also compare vendors to ensure insurance, benefits packages, and HR information systems remain competitive and cost effective and research new methods for attracting and retaining qualified employees.

Administrator Qualifications

While specific qualifications vary by employer, candidates generally must possess a bachelor’s degree in human resources or a related field to be eligible to work as an HR administrator. Individuals who lack a college degree but possess significant prior HR experience may be eligible for consideration by some companies provided they have demonstrated knowledge of employee laws and regulations such as the Fair Labor Standards Act, the Family and Medical Leave Act and the Americans with Disabilities Act. Additionally, while it’s not required, candidates who possess an HR certification such as those offered by the HR Certification Institute may have more favorable job prospects.

Manager Qualifications

Similar to the administrator, job requirements for an HR manager position vary by employer. Generally, a bachelor’s degree in human resources, business or a related field along with prior HR work experience is required, however some companies may require a minimum of a master’s degree to be considered for an HR leadership role. Because this is such a strategic role within an organization, candidates must be able to demonstrate expert-level knowledge in all areas of HR law. Employers also may require possession of an HR certification and prior managerial experience.

About the Author

Based in Virginia, Amanda Banach has been a writer since 2009. Her professional work experience includes roles in media advertising, financial services and human resources. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in human resources management and is PHR-certified.

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