Human Resources Specialists and Labor Relations Specialists

Summary

human resources specialists image
Many human resources specialists interview and help place workers.
Quick Facts: Human Resources Specialists and Labor Relations Specialists
2012 Median Pay $55,640 per year
$26.75 per hour
Entry-Level Education Bachelor’s degree
Work Experience in a Related Occupation None
On-the-job Training None
Number of Jobs, 2012 495,500
Job Outlook, 2012-22 7% (Slower than average)
Employment Change, 2012-22 32,500

What Human Resources Specialists and Labor Relations Specialists Do

Human resources specialists recruit, screen, interview, and place workers. They often handle other human resources work, such as those related to employee relations, payroll and benefits, and training. Labor relations specialists interpret and administer labor contracts regarding issues such as wages and salaries, employee welfare, healthcare, pensions, and union and management practices.

Work Environment

Human resources specialists and labor relations specialists generally work in offices. Some, particularly recruitment specialists, travel extensively to attend job fairs, visit college campuses, and meet with applicants. Most work full time during regular business hours.

How to Become a Human Resources Specialist or Labor Relations Specialist

Applicants must usually have a bachelor’s degree in human resources, business, or a related field. However, the level of education and experience required varies by position and employer. 

Pay

In May 2012, the median annual wage for human resources specialists was $55,800. The median annual wage for labor relations specialists was $54,660 in May 2012.

Job Outlook

Employment of human resources specialists and labor relations specialists is projected to grow 7 percent from 2012 to 2022, slower than the average for all occupations. Job prospects for human resources specialists are expected to be favorable, but those for labor relations specialists are expected to be less favorable.  

Similar Occupations

Compare the job duties, education, job growth, and pay of human resources specialists and labor relations specialists with similar occupations.

More Information, Including Links to O*NET

Learn more about human resources specialists and labor relations specialists by visiting additional resources, including O*NET, a source on key characteristics of workers and occupations.

What Human Resources Specialists and Labor Relations Specialists Do

Human resource specialists
Recruitment specialists may distribute information at job fairs.

Human resources specialists recruit, screen, interview, and place workers. They often handle other human resources work, such as those related to employee relations, payroll and benefits, and training. Labor relations specialists interpret and administer labor contracts regarding issues such as wages and salaries, employee welfare, healthcare, pensions, and union and management practices.

Duties

Human resources specialists typically do the following:

  • Consult with employers to identify employment needs
  • Interview applicants about their experience, education, and skills
  • Contact references and perform background checks on job applicants
  • Inform applicants about job details, such as duties, benefits, and working conditions
  • Hire or refer qualified candidates for employers
  • Conduct or help with new employee orientation
  • Keep employment records and process paperwork

Labor relations specialists typically do the following:

  • Advise management on contracts, worker grievances, and disciplinary procedures
  • Lead meetings between management and labor
  • Draft proposals and rules or regulations in order to help facilitate collective bargaining
  • Interpret formal communications between management and labor
  • Investigate validity of labor grievances
  • Train management on labor relations

Human resources specialists are often trained in all human resources disciplines and perform tasks throughout all areas of the department. In addition to recruiting and placing workers, human resources specialists help guide employees through all human resources procedures and answer questions about policies. They often administer benefits, process payroll, and handle any associated questions or problems. They also ensure that all human resources functions comply with federal, state, and local regulations. 

The following are examples of types of human resources specialists:

Employment interviewers work in an employment office and interview potential applicants for job openings. They refer suitable candidates to employers for consideration.   

Human resources generalists handle all aspects of human resources work. They may have duties in all areas of human resources including recruitment, employee relations, payroll, benefits, training, as well as the administration of human resources policies, procedures, and programs. 

Placement specialists match employers with qualified jobseekers. They search for candidates who have the skills, education, and work experience needed for jobs, and they try to place those candidates with employers. They also may help set up interviews.

Recruitment specialists, sometimes known as personnel recruiters, find, screen, and interview applicants for job openings in an organization. They search for applicants by posting listings, attending job fairs, and visiting college campuses. They also may test applicants, contact references, and extend job offers.

Labor relations specialists work with a labor union and a company’s management. In addition to leading meetings between the two groups, these specialists draft formal language as part of the collective bargaining process. They often address specific grievances a worker might have, and ensure that all labor and management solutions comply within the relevant collective bargaining agreement.

Work Environment

Human resource specialists
Employment interviewers speak with applicants and ask them questions before referring them to appropriate jobs.

Human resources specialists and labor relations specialists held about 495,500 jobs in 2012. Of this total, about 418,000 were human resources specialists, and 77,600 were labor relations specialists.

About 15 percent of human resources specialists worked in the employment services industry, which includes employment placement agencies, temporary help services, and professional employer organizations.

Because hiring needs may vary throughout the year, many organizations contract recruitment and placement work to outside human resources firms rather than keep permanent human resources specialists on staff.

About 73 percent of labor relations specialists worked in labor unions and similar labor organizations in 2012.

Work Schedules

Human resources specialists and labor relations specialists generally work in offices. Some, particularly recruitment specialists, travel extensively to attend job fairs, visit college campuses, and meet with applicants.

Most specialists work full time during regular business hours.

How to Become a Human Resources Specialist or Labor Relations Specialist

Human resource specialists
Some human resources specialists travel to attend job fairs and recruit applicants.

Applicants must usually have a bachelor’s degree. However, the level of education and experience required to become a human resources specialist or labor relations specialist varies by position and employer.                                                

Education

Applicants seeking positions as human resources specialists or labor relations specialists must usually have a bachelor’s degree in human resources, business, or a related field.

Coursework should include business, professional writing, human resource management, and accounting.

Work Experience in a Related Occupation

Although candidates with a high school diploma may qualify for some interviewing and recruiting positions, employers usually require several years of related work experience as a substitute for education.

Some positions, particularly human resources generalists, may require previous work experience. Candidates can gain experience as human resources assistants, in customer service positions, or in other related jobs.

Licenses, Certifications, and Registrations

Many professional associations that specialize in human resources offer courses intended to enhance the skills of their members, and some offer certification programs.

Although certification is usually voluntary, some employers may prefer or require it. Human resources generalists, in particular, can benefit from certification because it shows knowledge and professional competence across all human resources areas. 

Some colleges and universities offer labor relations certificates to specialists who prefer greater specialization in mediation.

Important Qualities

Decision-making skills. Human resources specialists and labor relations specialists use decision-making skills when reviewing candidates’ qualifications or when working to resolve labor disputes.  

Detail oriented. Specialists must be detail oriented when evaluating applicants’ qualifications, performing background checks, and maintaining records of an employee grievance. 

Interpersonal skills. Interpersonal skills are essential for human resources specialists and labor relations specialists. When recruiting candidates and mediating between labor and management, specialists continually interact with new people and must be able to converse and connect with people from different backgrounds. 

Listening skills. Listening skills are essential for human resources specialists and labor relations specialists. When interviewing job applicants, for example, they must pay careful attention to candidates’ responses, understand the points they are making, and ask relevant followup questions. 

Speaking skills. All specialists need strong speaking skills to be effective at their job. They often give presentations and must be able to convey information about their organizations and jobs within them.

Pay

Human Resources Specialists and Labor Relations Specialists

Median annual wages, May 2012

Human resources specialists

$55,800

Human resources specialists and labor relations specialists

$55,640

Labor relations specialists

$54,660

Total, all occupations

$34,750

 

The median annual wage for human resources specialists was $55,800 in May 2012. The median wage is the wage at which half the workers in an occupation earned more than that amount, and half earned less. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $32,770, and the top 10 percent earned more than $95,380.

The median annual wage for labor relations specialists was $54,660 in May 2012. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $17,690, and the top 10 percent earned more than $99,030.

Many human resources specialists, particularly recruiters, travel extensively to attend job fairs, visit college campuses, and meet with applicants.

Most specialists work full time during regular business hours.

Job Outlook

Human Resources Specialists and Labor Relations Specialists

Percent change in employment, projected 2012-22

Total, all occupations

11%

Human resources specialists

8%

Human resources specialists and labor relations specialists

7%

Labor relations specialists

-1%

 

Employment of human resources specialists and labor relations specialists is projected to grow 7 percent from 2012 to 2022, slower than the average for all occupations. Employment growth will vary by specialty.

Employment of human resources specialists is projected to grow 8 percent, about as fast as the average for all occupations. About 15 percent of human resources specialists work in the employment services industry, which includes employment placement agencies, temporary help services, and professional employer organizations. Employment growth in employment services is projected to be much faster than the average as organizations continue to outsource human resources functions to professional employer organizations—companies that provide human resources services to client businesses.

In addition, rather than having recruiters and interviewers on staff, these businesses will contract preliminary staffing work to employment placement and temporary staffing agencies as needed. 

Companies will also need human resources specialists to find replacements for workers leaving the workforce. Organizations will likely need more human resources generalists to handle increasingly complex employment laws and healthcare coverage options.   

However, employment of human resources specialists will be tempered as companies make better use of available technologies. Rather than sending recruiters to colleges and job fairs, for example, some employers are increasingly conducting their entire recruiting and application process online. In addition, some of the tasks of generalists can be automated or made more efficient using Human Resources Information Systems—software that allows workers to quickly manage, process, or update human resources information. 

Employment of labor relations specialists is projected to show little or no change from 2012 to 2022. Union membership has been on a downward trend, resulting in less demand for the services of labor relations specialists.

Job Prospects

Job prospects for human resources specialists are expected to be favorable. Specifically, job opportunities should be best in the employment services industry, as companies continue to outsource portions of their human resources functions to other firms. 

Human resources generalists, in particular may benefit from having knowledge of human resources programs, employment laws, collective bargaining, and human resources information systems.

Job prospects for labor relations specialists, however, are expected to be less favorable. Union membership has been declining, which means there are fewer opportunities for these specialists to negotiate with management.

Overall, candidates with a bachelor’s degree and related work experience should have the best job prospects.                 

Employment projections data for Human Resources Specialists and Labor Relations Specialists, 2012-22
Occupational Title SOC Code Employment, 2012 Projected Employment, 2022 Change, 2012-22 Employment by Industry
Percent Numeric

SOURCE: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Employment Projections program

Human resources specialists and labor relations specialists

495,500 528,100 7 32,500

Human resources specialists

13-1071 418,000 451,100 8 33,200 [XLS]

Labor relations specialists

13-1075 77,600 76,900 -1 -600 [XLS]

Similar Occupations

This table shows a list of occupations with job duties that are similar to those of human resources specialists and labor relations specialists.

Occupation Job Duties ENTRY-LEVEL EDUCATION 2012 MEDIAN PAY
Compensation and benefits managers

Compensation and Benefits Managers

Compensation managers plan, direct, and coordinate how much an organization pays its employees and how employees are paid. Benefits managers plan, direct, and coordinate retirement plans, health insurance, and other benefits that an organization offers its employees.

Bachelor’s degree $95,250
Customer service representatives

Customer Service Representatives

Customer service representatives handle customer complaints, process orders, and provide information about an organization’s products and services.

High school diploma or equivalent $30,580
Human resources managers

Human Resources Managers

Human resources managers plan, direct, and coordinate the administrative functions of an organization. They oversee the recruiting, interviewing, and hiring of new staff; consult with top executives on strategic planning; and serve as a link between an organization’s management and its employees.

Bachelor’s degree $99,720
Insurance sales agents

Insurance Sales Agents

Insurance sales agents help insurance companies generate new business by contacting potential customers and selling one or more types of insurance. Insurance sales agents explain various insurance policies and help clients choose plans that suit them.

High school diploma or equivalent $48,150
public relations specialists image

Public Relations Specialists

Public relations specialists create and maintain a favorable public image for the organization they represent. They design media releases to shape public perception of their organization and to increase awareness of its work and goals.

Bachelor’s degree $54,170
Social and human service assistants

Social and Human Service Assistants

Social and human service assistants help people get through difficult times or get additional support. They assist other workers, such as social workers, and they help clients find benefits or community services.

High school diploma or equivalent $28,850
Training and development managers

Training and Development Managers

Training and development managers plan, direct, and coordinate programs to enhance the knowledge and skills of an organization’s employees. They also oversee a staff of training and development specialists.

Bachelor’s degree $95,400
Tax examiners and collectors, and revenue agents

Tax Examiners and Collectors, and Revenue Agents

Tax examiners and collectors, and revenue agents ensure that federal, state, and local governments get their tax money from businesses and citizens. They review tax returns, conduct audits, identify taxes owed, and collect overdue tax payments.

Bachelor’s degree $50,440
Suggested citation:

Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2014-15 Edition, Human Resources Specialists and Labor Relations Specialists,
on the Internet at http://www.bls.gov/ooh/business-and-financial/human-resources-specialists-and-labor-relations-specialists.htm (visited August 21, 2014).

Publish Date: Wednesday, January 8, 2014