The big OE: Human Resources (HR) in the UK

The Big OE (Overseas experience) is somewhat of a rite of passage for many early professionals, many of us will travel between the northern and southern hemisphere’s seeking that international experience and exposure to diverse organisations and ways of working. Those of us in Human Resources are no different, indeed even you’re truly has taken this approach – now working in my second country and third time zone/industrial environment.

Speaking with a former colleague a few weeks ago, I thought others might also be interested in some answers to some of the basic questions about working in HR in the UK.

Entry level Human Resource (HR) Assistants can expect around the £19,000 a year mark. Typically to gain entry at this level you would have some exposure to HR, with perhaps around six months experience. I wouldn’t recommend travelling around the world for an entry level role, however I’ve included it here to give you an idea of the kind of salary you might be able to fall back on, if you’re unable to secure a role at your current level of experience.

Perhaps unlike working within Human Resources in the Southern Hemisphere, in the UK HR certifications are held in very strong regard. Specifically CIPD, if you’re partway through this certification level 5 with relevant experience then you can expect to ear in the region of £22,000.

Quick note, for those HR practitioners with an AHRI (Australia Human Resources Institute) certification, CIPD and AHRI have an agreement where they will recognise each other’s assessments. This means that once you have one, it’s a relatively simple process of gaining the equivalent certification with the other professional body.

With a combination of a CIPD certification and experience, in the region of 3 – 5 years, you can expect as an HR Officer to earn £25,000 and above. As you move through the ranks to HR Consultant, HR Business Partner, HR Manager etc, then your salary will increase strongly.




For those at the higher management levels of HR such as HR Directors, then you can expect a salary range of between £75,000 to £100,000. Of course as with most employment markets, this does depend on the size of the organisation. Unlike in the Australian or New Zealand market, within the UK market often multinationals will have their head office within the UK, this means while there is more competition for outstanding HR talent – there are also a good number of opportunities for those who are indeed exceptional and ability for organisations to pay exceptional salaries.

For those with a taste of going it alone as a freelancer or self-employed consultant, the news is good, these kind of opportunities are increasing. Be aware however, that in the freelancer game CIPD certification is seen as essential. And just like salary for freelancers or self-employed consultants, the market will vary according to the size of the organisation, the type of work required, and the experience of the consultant, will all factor in to what people in this area can command financially.

The working week is typically 9 – 5, five days a week (Monday – Friday), however depending on the industry some weekend work may be required. It is also worth noting that due to the number of multinationals operating and the proximately of Europe, that some work may happen outside these hours to account for travel and indeed time zone differences.

If you are interested in HR work in the UK, then firstly best of luck, gaining overseas experience and exposure is a fantastic way to build your career. I would strongly suggest that you do your research, and join up with CIPD, to gain an understanding from HR people on the ground in the UK.

All the best

Brendan