How Much Do Recruiters Make?

Individuals contemplating on whether to be a recruiter often ask “How Much Do Recruiters Make?.”

So if you are one of those individuals who are considering becoming a recruiter, it is only natural to wonder. After all, the job is really unique.

This article will go over everything you need to know about a recruiter, how much recruiters make, how they get paid, how much money each type of recruiter can make on average, and what kinds of recruiters earn the most money.

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How Much Do Recruiters Make?

Recruiters play an essential role in nearly every industry. 

Their impact is even more significant in challenging fields where having the best talent is crucial to a company’s success. 

It isn’t enough for companies to simply publish a job listing and hope that high-quality candidates come in. They have to be proactive about finding the best people possible.

That’s why so many organizations turn to dedicated recruiters. These jobs are very challenging, and the recruitment industry is more complex than you can imagine. 

The best way to gain perspective on the diverse world of recruitment is to take a look at average earnings using the most developed country (the United States of America) income data.

Research has shown that in the United States of America as of 2022, an average recruiter earns up to $35,000 to $200,000 per year depending on the type of recruitment they do. 

This is a broad annual earning spectrum and you will likely see different figures from different sources.

For instance, looking at popular salary websites would make you believe that the national average is around $45,000 across the board. 

But many recruiters make far more than that, more than six-figure yearly.

The earning disparity is due to the different types of recruitment jobs available. 

Like any other profession, this field has a career ladder with multiple positions and salary ranges. 

In the case of recruiters, one of the most significant ways to influence their earning potential is to choose certain types of recruiting.

Read Also: How Can Job Seekers Make Themselves More Attractive to Recruiters?

How Do Recruiters Get Paid?

To fully understand how much a recruiter makes and how they get paid. 

We must first of all understand the types of recruiters and how much each of them earns.

There are two main types of recruiters:

1. Internal recruiters

2. External recruiters.

Internal Recruiters Pay

Internal recruiters which are also called in-house recruiters work within a company. They’re part of the company’s payroll and are typically a human resources team member. 

You’re more likely to see internal recruiters at larger companies or those that hire employees continually throughout the year.

Such companies include Fortune 100 companies like Microsoft, Exxon Mobil, Pfizer, and others.

In most cases, it’s worth having an in-house recruiter to maintain a quality pool of applicants.

You benefit from stability and a more traditional work environment as an internal recruiter. 

These recruiters typically work in an office, have a support team nearby, and have access to many different hiring resources.

In larger corporations, the brand name alone is enough to attract a sizable pool of applicants for every job. 

However, recruiters can use the power of the company’s name to reach out to top-notch candidates, making offers to those who might not even be on the hunt for a new job. 

In-house recruiters know the ins and outs of the company’s hiring needs. 

In many cases, these positions require additional employee-related work. 

For example, recruiters are often responsible for tracking hiring metrics, creating reports about employee retention, the efficiency of job listings, etc.

Generally, internal recruiters usually get paid a salary rate ranging from $35,000 to $75,000 per year depending on where they work and how experienced they are. 

As an internal recruiter, it is possible to earn more working internally but you will need to become a technical recruiter to reach the higher end of the above salary range.

However, it’s difficult for an internal recruiter to get paid much beyond the average salary ranges listed above.

 So if you want to earn more money as a recruiter, you should look into becoming an agency recruiter.

Read Also: Why Do Recruiters Lie?

External Recruiters Pay

External recruiters, also known as agency recruiters or headhunters are the type of recruiters that aren’t tied to any specific company.

In this field of work, recruiters spend their time finding the best possible candidates for many companies.

In most cases, external recruiters work for a staffing agency. 

These recruitment jobs are commission-based, so you’re not confined to an annual salary. 

The more placements you secure for your clients, the bigger your earning potential and they start earning the commissions when they place candidates into jobs.

As an external recruiter, other organizations pay you to find qualified candidates for them.

Recruitment agencies often work with many different companies. It’s not uncommon to see agencies with a client roster of 25 to 50 companies. 

Most external recruiters have access to an enormous database of candidates. 

They can sift through that collection, find the best people, and reach out with job opportunities. 

Many will also look out in the industry, using their connections and powerful networking tools to find people that might fit the organization’s needs.

If being paid well as a recruiter is a priority, external is the way to go. 

External recruiters could make upwards of $200,000 a year, and some make even more. 

It all depends on the industry, the volume of placements you get, and how many clients you have.

Here’s exactly how an agency recruiter gets paid, and how much a recruiter of this type can make:

When working for a staffing agency, a recruiter typically earns what’s called a contingency fee, which is often 15-20% of the candidate’s first-year starting base salary. 

The candidate does not lose this money; it’s simply an additional fee that the employer (referred to as the client) pays the staffing firm.

Then, the recruitment agency typically keeps half of this commission and gives half to the individual recruiter. 

So that an external recruiter’s pay can add up very quickly.

Technical Recruiters Pay

This subset of the recruiting industry is an important one worth mentioning. 

Technical recruiters are individuals who have in-depth knowledge of a specific field. They’re not necessarily experienced working in that field (although that is a plus), but they usually have specialized knowledge about what employers are looking for.

They work for companies that operate in fields that require a specific and deep skillset. 

For example, technical recruiters often work to find lawyers, nurses, medical experts, engineers, and more. They’re also prevalent in the IT and software development space.

The hiring process in these industries is more complex, involving technical interviews and possible competency exams. 

Your average recruiter wouldn’t have the knowledge or experience to navigate those hiring processes.

That’s why organizations turn to technical recruiters. They work closely with the hiring manager to identify, recruit, and screen candidates for highly specialized positions.

Technical recruiters usually earn a base salary in the neighborhood of $75,000. However, that figure can go up more depending on the job.

Technical recruiters can work internally for a specific company, but they can also work for staffing agencies. The latter can maximize annual earnings, surpassing what general external recruiters make.

Other Factors That Impact On How Much Recruiters Earn

There’s a ton of earning potential as a recruiter (especially if you’re external), but several factors will impact how much you can make. 

In addition to the differences between internal, external, and technical recruitment, you must consider facets like location and job sector.

Regarding location, it’s all about the cost of living and the overall job market. Recruiters are more likely to see success in larger cities. Why? Because the cost of living is higher and there’s a much bigger pool of applicants.

As an external recruiter, there are more companies to work for and a massive pool of people looking to get jobs. 

Pair that with the overall higher salaries due to the cost of living, and these recruiters can make significantly more than they would in a more rural setting.

The industry you recruit for makes a difference, too. Operating in sectors with high-paying jobs means recruiters can make more. For example, tech companies often have more high-paying jobs. The same goes for medical, law, and engineering companies.

With higher paying salaries comes a beefier contingency fee and commissions per placement. Become a technical recruiter in these fields, and there are opportunities to make even more!

What Type of Recruiters Makes the Most Money?

We just looked at the different types of recruiter jobs that can lead to a wide range in average salary, and to get on the high end of those ranges, you should always do two things:

  • Work as a technical recruiter in a specialized field (like legal practices, IT, healthcare, etc.)
  • Become an external/agency recruiter, not internal

To enlighten you more, I will explain both of these in more detail with additional factors that can help boost your salary in a recruiting job.

1. Work as a Technical Recruiter in a Specialized Field

It doesn’t take long to learn a specialized field of recruitment and you don’t need to have the technical background of the candidates you’re recruiting.

For example, I studied finance in college. Yet I became a technical recruiter in biotech and pharma, and then in software technology.

I’ve never worked in a science lab and I can’t write a single line of code, yet I was a successful recruiter able to make a great living in these specialized fields.

And after choosing a technical field to work in, I recommend finding a high-end staffing agency that focuses on positions paying $100,000 and up.

2. Work As An Agency Recruiter, Not Internal Recruiter

As mentioned above, you’ll only earn commissions and get paid for each job placement you make if you’re working as an external recruiter/agency recruiter.

So if you don’t mind a more challenging role and some fluctuations in pay, you’ll be able to earn more over time with this type of recruiting role.


You now know how much recruiters make, the kind of position and industry they operate with and the most important factors that determine your pay if you decide to take a position in recruitment.

So, If you’re interested in becoming a recruiter and favor a more consistent and stable work experience, then internal recruiters is probably the way to go.

But if you’re looking to earn as much as possible, you should pursue the role of an external recruiter (ideally a technical one). 

I hope that this article has served as a guide in helping you know the highest possible salary as a recruiter.

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