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Summary

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Quick Facts: Labor Relations Specialists
2023 Median Pay $89,980 per year
$43.26 per hour
Typical Entry-Level Education Bachelor's degree
Work Experience in a Related Occupation Less than 5 years
On-the-job Training None
Number of Jobs, 2022 64,600
Job Outlook, 2022-32 -1% (Little or no change)
Employment Change, 2022-32 -500

What Labor Relations Specialists Do

Labor relations specialists resolve employee-management disputes and negotiate labor contracts.

Work Environment

Labor relations specialists typically work in an office setting. Most work full time.

How to Become a Labor Relations Specialist

To enter the occupation, these specialists typically need a bachelor’s degree in labor and industrial relations, human resources, business, or a related field. Specialists also may need several years of experience in a related occupation.

Pay

The median annual wage for labor relations specialists was $89,980 in May 2023.

Job Outlook

Employment of labor relations specialists is projected to show little or no change from 2022 to 2032.

Despite limited employment growth, about 5,200 openings for labor relations specialists are projected each year, on average, over the decade. Most of those openings are expected to result from the need to replace workers who transfer to different occupations or exit the labor force, such as to retire.

State & Area Data

Explore resources for employment and wages by state and area for labor relations specialists.

Similar Occupations

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

More Information, Including Links to O*NET

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

What Labor Relations Specialists Do About this section

Labor relations specialists draft proposals and rules or regulations in order to help facilitate collective bargaining.

Labor relations specialists (also called employee relations specialists) resolve employee-management disputes, negotiate labor contracts, and coordinate grievance procedures regarding worker complaints. They may offer input on issues such as wages and salaries, nonwage benefits, and union or management practices.

Duties

Labor relations specialists typically do the following:

  • Support interactions and negotiations between management and employee representatives, such as labor unions
  • Develop, draft, and implement an organization’s policies, handbooks, and codes of conduct
  • Ensure compliance with collective bargaining or other agreements and employment policies
  • Investigate worker misconduct and advise management on appropriate response and disciplinary procedures
  • Manage employee grievances and discipline processes
  • Resolve internal workplace disputes
  • Guide employees on the terms of their employment
  • Train management on labor relations and other policies and procedures

Labor relations specialists work with representatives for an organization’s management and employees. In addition to leading meetings between the two groups, labor relations specialists draft an agreement regarding organizational policies and procedures. These contracts, called collective bargaining agreements when negotiated between management and labor unions, serve as a legal and procedural guide for employee-management relations.

Once an organization’s policies are in place, labor relations specialists may work with either side to enforce them. For example, specialists may guide a manager in taking disciplinary action against an employee according to proper procedures. Other specialists may address worker grievances to ensure that they comply with relevant processes.

Labor relations specialists also instruct managers and employees about their organization’s policies and procedures. For example, they may provide trainings to management or share informational newsletters with employees that cover different issues specific to each group.

Work Environment About this section

labor relations specialists WORK ENVIRONMENT
Labor relations specialists generally work in offices.

Labor relations specialists held about 64,600 jobs in 2022. The largest employers of labor relations specialists were as follows:

Labor unions and similar labor organizations 74%
Government 4
Management of companies and enterprises 2

Labor relations specialists typically work in an office setting. Travel, such as to attend meetings or to engage with workers onsite, may be required. The work of labor relations specialists may be stressful if negotiating contracts and resolving grievances become tense.

Work Schedules

Most labor relations specialists work full time. They sometimes work for long periods, such as when preparing for meetings or settling disputes.

How to Become a Labor Relations Specialist About this section

Labor relations specialists shaking hands in a meeting.
Labor relations specialists typically need a bachelor’s degree, and they may need experience in a related occupation.

To enter the occupation, these specialists typically need a bachelor’s degree in labor and industrial relations, human resources, business, or a related field. Specialists also may need several years of experience in a related occupation.

Education

Labor relations specialists typically need a bachelor’s degree. Some schools offer a bachelor’s degree in labor and industrial relations. Candidates also may qualify for labor relations specialist positions with a bachelor’s degree in a field such as human resources or business. Coursework for these majors typically includes business, human resource management, and accounting.

Some colleges and universities offer labor relations certificates in specialized topics, such as mediation. Earning these certificates gives participants a better understanding of labor law, the collective bargaining process, and worker grievance procedures.

College students who participate in internships or job shadowing, such as with an organization’s human resources department, may have an opportunity to gain insight into labor relations while still in school.

Work Experience in a Related Occupation

Many positions require that candidates have work experience. Candidates can gain experience as human resources specialists, compensation, benefits, and job analysis specialists, or human resources generalists before specializing in labor relations.

Licenses, Certifications, and Registrations

Although not required, employers may prefer to hire candidates who have professional certification. Certification demonstrates a level of proficiency in the skills required for the occupation. For labor relations specialists, human resources credentials may either be general or cover specific workforce topics.

Important Qualities

Communication skills. Labor relations specialists must be able to convey information, both orally and in writing. For example, they talk with workers and managers, conduct trainings, and draft proposals and other materials.

Detail oriented. Labor relations specialists must pay attention to minutiae in tasks such as evaluating labor laws, ensuring compliance with policies, and maintaining records.

Interpersonal skills. Labor relations specialists need to interact well with others. For example, they must be able to establish rapport with workers when conducting interviews to resolve internal disputes.

Organizational skills. Labor relations specialists often handle several cases at once. They must be able to multitask and keep clear files to maintain records properly.

Problem-solving skills. Labor relations specialists help management and employees consider their options to reach consensus, such as when resolving grievances or negotiating contracts.

Pay About this section

Labor Relations Specialists

Median annual wages, May 2023

Labor relations specialists

$89,980

Business operations specialists

$78,500

Total, all occupations

$48,060

 

The median annual wage for labor relations specialists was $89,980 in May 2023. 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 $48,360, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $139,520.

In May 2023, the median annual wages for labor relations specialists in the top industries in which they worked were as follows:

Management of companies and enterprises $105,780
Labor unions and similar labor organizations 90,740
Government 85,480

Most labor relations specialists work full time. They sometimes work long periods, such as when preparing for meetings or settling disputes.

Job Outlook About this section

Labor Relations Specialists

Percent change in employment, projected 2022-32

Business operations specialists

6%

Total, all occupations

3%

Labor relations specialists

-1%

 

Employment of labor relations specialists is projected to show little or no change from 2022 to 2032.

Despite limited employment growth, about 5,200 openings for labor relations specialists are projected each year, on average, over the decade. Most of those openings are expected to result from the need to replace workers who transfer to different occupations or exit the labor force, such as to retire.

Employment

If union membership rates decline, overall demand for these specialists will be limited. However, there will still be some need for labor relations specialists’ expertise as union negotiations and contract disputes continue.

Employment projections data for labor relations specialists, 2022-32
Occupational Title SOC Code Employment, 2022 Projected Employment, 2032 Change, 2022-32 Employment by Industry
Percent Numeric

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

Labor relations specialists

13-1075 64,600 64,000 -1 -500 Get data

State & Area Data About this section

Occupational Employment and Wage Statistics (OEWS)

The Occupational Employment and Wage Statistics (OEWS) program produces employment and wage estimates annually for over 800 occupations. These estimates are available for the nation as a whole, for individual states, and for metropolitan and nonmetropolitan areas. The link(s) below go to OEWS data maps for employment and wages by state and area.

Projections Central

Occupational employment projections are developed for all states by Labor Market Information (LMI) or individual state Employment Projections offices. All state projections data are available at www.projectionscentral.org. Information on this site allows projected employment growth for an occupation to be compared among states or to be compared within one state. In addition, states may produce projections for areas; there are links to each state’s websites where these data may be retrieved.

CareerOneStop

CareerOneStop includes hundreds of occupational profiles with data available by state and metro area. There are links in the left-hand side menu to compare occupational employment by state and occupational wages by local area or metro area. There is also a salary info tool to search for wages by zip code.

Similar Occupations About this section

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

Occupation Job Duties ENTRY-LEVEL EDUCATION Help on Entry-Level Education 2023 MEDIAN PAY Help on Median Pay
arbitrators mediators and conciliators image Arbitrators, Mediators, and Conciliators

Arbitrators, mediators, and conciliators facilitate negotiation and dialogue between disputing parties to help resolve conflicts outside of the court system.

Bachelor's degree $71,540
compensation benefits and job analysis specialists image Compensation, Benefits, and Job Analysis Specialists

Compensation, benefits, and job analysis specialists oversee wage and nonwage programs that an organization provides to its employees in return for their work. They also evaluate position descriptions to determine details such as classification and salary.

Bachelor's degree $74,530
Human resources managers Human Resources Managers

Human resources managers plan, coordinate, and direct the administrative functions of an organization.

Bachelor's degree $136,350
Human resource specialists Human Resources Specialists

Human resources specialists recruit, screen, and interview job applicants and place newly hired workers in jobs. They also may handle compensation and benefits, training, and employee relations.

Bachelor's degree $67,650
Lawyers Lawyers

Lawyers advise and represent clients on legal proceedings or transactions.

Doctoral or professional degree $145,760
public relations specialists image Public Relations Specialists

Public relations specialists create and maintain a positive public image for the clients they represent.

Bachelor's degree $66,750
Training and development managers Training and Development Managers

Training and development managers plan, coordinate, and direct skills- and knowledge-enhancement programs for an organization’s staff.

Bachelor's degree $125,040
training and development specialists image Training and Development Specialists

Training and development specialists plan and administer programs that improve the skills and knowledge of their employees.

Bachelor's degree $64,340
Social and human service assistants Social and Human Service Assistants

Social and human service assistants provide client services in a variety of fields, such as psychology, rehabilitation, and social work.

High school diploma or equivalent $41,410

Contacts for More Information About this section

For more information about labor relations careers, training, or related certifications, visit

Federal Labor Relations Authority (FLRA)

HR Certification Institute (HRCI)

Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM)

Related BLS articles

For more information about union membership, read the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Union Membership Annual News Release.

CareerOneStop

For a career video on labor relations specialists, visit

Labor Relations Specialists

O*NET

Labor Relations Specialists

Suggested citation:

Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, Labor Relations Specialists,
at https://www.bls.gov/ooh/business-and-financial/labor-relations-specialists.htm (visited July 09, 2024).

Last Modified Date: Wednesday, April 17, 2024

What They Do

The What They Do tab describes the typical duties and responsibilities of workers in the occupation, including what tools and equipment they use and how closely they are supervised. This tab also covers different types of occupational specialties.

Work Environment

The Work Environment tab includes the number of jobs held in the occupation and describes the workplace, the level of physical activity expected, and typical hours worked. It may also discuss the major industries that employed the occupation. This tab may also describe opportunities for part-time work, the amount and type of travel required, any safety equipment that is used, and the risk of injury that workers may face.

How to Become One

The How to Become One tab describes how to prepare for a job in the occupation. This tab can include information on education, training, work experience, licensing and certification, and important qualities that are required or helpful for entering or working in the occupation.

Pay

The Pay tab describes typical earnings and how workers in the occupation are compensated—annual salaries, hourly wages, commissions, tips, or bonuses. Within every occupation, earnings vary by experience, responsibility, performance, tenure, and geographic area. For most profiles, this tab has a table with wages in the major industries employing the occupation. It does not include pay for self-employed workers, agriculture workers, or workers in private households because these data are not collected by the Occupational Employment and Wage Statistics (OEWS) survey, the source of BLS wage data in the OOH.

State & Area Data

The State and Area Data tab provides links to state and area occupational data from the Occupational Employment and Wage Statistics (OEWS) program, state projections data from Projections Central, and occupational information from the Department of Labor's CareerOneStop.

Job Outlook

The Job Outlook tab describes the factors that affect employment growth or decline in the occupation, and in some instances, describes the relationship between the number of job seekers and the number of job openings.

Similar Occupations

The Similar Occupations tab describes occupations that share similar duties, skills, interests, education, or training with the occupation covered in the profile.

Contacts for More Information

The More Information tab provides the Internet addresses of associations, government agencies, unions, and other organizations that can provide additional information on the occupation. This tab also includes links to relevant occupational information from the Occupational Information Network (O*NET).

2023 Median Pay

The wage at which half of the workers in the occupation earned more than that amount and half earned less. Median wage data are from the BLS Occupational Employment and Wage Statistics survey. In May 2023, the median annual wage for all workers was $48,060.

On-the-job Training

Additional training needed (postemployment) to attain competency in the skills needed in this occupation.

Entry-level Education

Typical level of education that most workers need to enter this occupation.

Work experience in a related occupation

Work experience that is commonly considered necessary by employers, or is a commonly accepted substitute for more formal types of training or education.

Number of Jobs, 2022

The employment, or size, of this occupation in 2022, which is the base year of the 2022-32 employment projections.

Job Outlook, 2022-32

The projected percent change in employment from 2022 to 2032. The average growth rate for all occupations is 3 percent.

Employment Change, 2022-32

The projected numeric change in employment from 2022 to 2032.

Entry-level Education

Typical level of education that most workers need to enter this occupation.

On-the-job Training

Additional training needed (postemployment) to attain competency in the skills needed in this occupation.

Employment Change, projected 2022-32

The projected numeric change in employment from 2022 to 2032.

Growth Rate (Projected)

The percent change of employment for each occupation from 2022 to 2032.

Projected Number of New Jobs

The projected numeric change in employment from 2022 to 2032.

Projected Growth Rate

The projected percent change in employment from 2022 to 2032.

2023 Median Pay

The wage at which half of the workers in the occupation earned more than that amount and half earned less. Median wage data are from the BLS Occupational Employment and Wage Statistics survey. In May 2023, the median annual wage for all workers was $48,060.