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Earnings potential after 20+ years in SAP HR

I am researching the earning potential of someone with over 20 years' experience working with SAP HR and Payroll modules, including 8 years of development, configuration and support as a Senior SAP Payroll Consultant for a Fortune 500 company. What can someone with this skill set expect to make currently per hour? Does that typically include expenses? Also, what can he expect to make over the next five years or so?

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I can't tell if you're researching this for yourself or for somebody else, but either way, your best bet is to check out the job boards and see what's out there. There's no scientific survey that beats putting your resume out there and seeing what kind of offers you get. So if you have deep SAP HR skills, and you really want to know what you're worth, you'll have to test the waters. Remember that skills are very individual – HR/Payroll is pretty broad. Some aspects of SAP HR are more marketable than others. Emerging areas like ESS (Employee Self Service) and MSS (Manager Self Service) can really boost your rates. In general, I would expect very senior HR-payroll folks without a hot skill like MSS to make about $70-80 an hour plus expenses. In terms of the five year prediction, no one can see five years down the road in this market, so I'm not going to make any five year predictions. I will say that I expect HR rates to continue to fall except in highly strategic areas of workforce planning. Otherwise, HR will become a commodified skill set. Companies do not want to pay consultants a bunch of money to figure out how to do their payroll, it's just not strategic enough. So, HR rates should continue to fall. Add this to the mix: I think HR is the functional area most likely to start feeling the impact of outsourcing trends. This will simultaneously inflict rate pressure on all HR consultants and reduce the number of HR jobs available. There's a future in SAP HR, but you'll have to stay on the ball and find the right sub-niche.

This was first published in August 2003

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