Get Started on a Recruiter Career Path: Jobs, Skills, Salaries

Written by Coursera Staff • Updated on

A recruiter's career path can be lucrative, with high salaries, good progression and many job options. Learn about the skills and experience you may need.

[Featured image] A recruiter is interviewing a potential employee.

As a recruiter, it’s often known for its exciting, fast-paced, target-driven environment, rewarded with high commissions, bonuses, and advancement for those who bring in the biggest clients and place the highest-level candidates. 

A recruitment career can bring in high salaries, job satisfaction, and excellent job prospects, with opportunities within an organization or for a recruitment agency. 

What is a recruiter?

A recruiter works either for an organization or externally for a recruitment agency, filling vacancies with suitable candidates. Their key role is working with organizations to understand their recruitment needs, identify and attract appropriate candidates, screen candidates for vacancies, and network for new businesses and job seekers. 

Read more: What Is a Recruiter?

In-house recruiter

Large organizations with a high volume of internal vacancies to fill employ in-house recruiters, sometimes known as corporate recruiters. A recruiter in this position will work closely with internal teams, getting to know each department’s needs and recruiting talent specifically to fit the company's work culture. They may recruit both temporary and permanent staff but are ultimately concerned with retaining good staff, having built networks and connections to source talent from within and outside the organization. 

External recruiter 

External recruiters work for recruitment agencies or run their own agency. They work on behalf of multiple clients, sourcing, screening, and recruiting talent for various positions and organizations across different industries.

External recruiters usually specialize in a specific industry or focus on a particular position covering a scope industries. They recruit temporary staff to fill short-term positions and permanent staff.

What does a corporate recruiter do daily?

A recruiter job involves several daily tasks, from working directly with hiring managers to sourcing candidates and screening them. Responsibilities vary depending on whether the recruiter is internal or external and whether they specialize in a certain area, but they generally concentrate on the same duties.

Work with hiring managers to identify recruitment needs.

Recruiters typically work closely with hiring managers to learn about the organization they’re hiring for, including the company culture, the position, and the qualities and experience required for the role. 

Network and build relationships.

A recruiter builds working relationships with various businesses and networks offering a regular talent stream, such as universities, trade unions, and hiring platforms. By networking and establishing strong connections, a recruiter can bring in business when a company needs to hire and has a pool of talent to recruit from. 

Read more: What Is Networking? How to Grow Your Network

Advertise roles.

Once roles have been identified and a recruiter has been given the contract, they advertise the position on behalf of the company they’re working for. This will be through a combination of mediums such as online job boards, social media, print publications, websites, and networking events and contacting a bank of candidates saved for the role.

Review resumes.

Applicants will be asked to apply for the roles advertised, and it is the job of the recruiter to screen candidates based on their resumes and cover letters. They may also support candidates in improving resumes if they think they are right for the role. 

Negotiate salaries. 

Once a candidate has been selected, a recruitment consultant helps with negotiations with salaries, benefits, hours, and training needs. 

Stay updated with industry and recruitment trends.

Recruiters, especially external consultants who work with a range of companies, have a wealth of industry knowledge and expertise regarding where to source candidates and advertise positions.

Recruiters Job Overview: salaries and careers

Recruiter salary varies according to whether they are internal or external recruiters, the industry they work in, their specialisms, and level. Recruiters are usually paid a base salary with the expectation that they’ll earn a commission for candidates they place on top of their base salary. 

Recruiter salary 

The average earnings before bonuses for a recruiter in the US is$50,950, according to Glassdoor [1]. An external recruiter career path tends to pay better than an internal recruiter path due to commission opportunities. Commission can be between 20 percent and 40 percent of the salary of the person you place, which can mean high earnings if you’re good at your job, especially if you are placing executives. 

Internal recruiters tend to be paid a salary, meaning they have a consistent income level. Bonuses are common but not on the same level, so income tends to be lower overall compared to a recruiter working for an agency. 

The highest-paying industries to work in as a recruiter are currently technology and IT, followed by the energy sector and life sciences.

Recruiter career outlook

The recruiter career path can be a lucrative choice, with excellent earning potential, job satisfaction, and development opportunities. While businesses need staff, the career outlook is excellent. While they show no specific data for recruiters, the US Bureau of Labor Statistics states that HR Specialist professions will see a 10 percent growth between 2020 and 2030, which is higher than average [2].  

Recruiter job titles and career path

The recruiter career path has many options for growth, with the opportunity to advance from an entry-level position to C-level through career development, building your networks, and proving yourself in the industry.

No specific degree requirement exists to work as a recruiter, but employers usually look for a bachelor’s degree. It can be a good option to stand out, even if it isn’t required. 

As well as a degree, you will need to gain experience. This can be approached through an internship or an entry-level position that has opportunities for more senior positions once you develop and demonstrate the necessary skills. Some start in customer service, sales, or administration roles to gain experience. 

Recruiter positions with salaries

Recruiter positions come with varying salaries, depending on the organization, industry, and level worked at. The examples below are base salaries and will not include commission made on top.

  • Trainee recruiter: $46,618 [3]

  • Entry level recruiter: $41,371 [4]

  • Recruiting associate: $49,858 [5]

  • Talent acquisition coordinator: $45,029 [6

  • Sourcing recruiter: $58,740 [7

  • Senior recruiter: $71,836 [8

  • Recruitment manager: $74,396 [9]

  • Recruitment consultant: $55,874 [10]

  • Corporate recruiter: $62,848 [11]

  • Talent acquisition manager: $85,073 [12]

  • Executive recruiter: $71,718 [13]

  • Headhunter: $63,295 [14]

  • Recruitment director: $76,165 [15]

Note: All US Average Salary information comes from Glassdoor, and is accurate as of September 2022.

Skills you need to be a recruiter

Aside from having a degree and gaining relevant experience, you must show that you have the relevant skill set to become a recruiter. This can be a combination of technical and workplace skills.

Sales and negotiation

You need to work with both parties in the recruitment process to close negotiations about salary, working hours, and benefits. You also need to be able to negotiate your own commission fees with each company you work with.  

Time management

If you’re an external recruiter, you’ll be working with multiple companies, with various roles to fill, working to different timescales, so it’s important that you manage your time well to meet targets and deadlines.

Read more: 6 Time Management Tips to Boost Your Productivity

Working knowledge of ATS

You'll use applicant tracking system (ATS) software to screen applicants and speed up the recruitment process. Having experience and a working knowledge of this software is an advantage. 

Communication and relationship-building

Most of your day-to-day is working with people on both sides of the process. You network with businesses to bring in clients and work with applicants applying for roles. It’s essential that you can build strong working relationships and communicate with people in a professional, friendly and clear way. 


Your role as a recruiter is to solve the problem of finding a person that matches a company's available position and work culture, so you must have excellent problem-solving abilities. 

Ready to build some recruitment skills?

If you are keen to start your career in recruitment, head to Coursera to find a course to begin building your skills, such as a course on Hiring Practices offered by UCI Division of Continuing Education or  Recruiting Hiring and Onborading Employees offered by the University of Minnesota.

Frequently asked questions (FAQs)

Article sources


Glassdoor. “Recruiter Salaries,,2_IN1_KO3,12.htm” Accessed September 9, 2022.

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