Bureau of Labor Statistics

Human Resources Specialists

human resources specialists image
Many human resources specialists interview applicants and help place workers.
Quick Facts: Human Resources Specialists
2020 Median Pay $63,490 per year
$30.52 per hour
Typical Entry-Level Education Bachelor's degree
Work Experience in a Related Occupation None
On-the-job Training None
Number of Jobs, 2019 666,500
Job Outlook, 2019-29 7% (Faster than average)
Employment Change, 2019-29 46,900

Summary

What Human Resources Specialists Do

Human resources specialists recruit, screen, interview, and place workers. They also handle employee relations, compensation and benefits, and training.

Work Environment

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

How to Become a Human Resources 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

The median annual wage for human resources specialists was $63,490 in May 2020.

Job Outlook

Employment of human resources specialists is projected to grow 7 percent from 2019 to 2029, faster than the average for all occupations. Human resources specialists will be needed to handle increasingly complex employment laws and healthcare coverage options. Most growth is projected to be in the professional, scientific, and technical services industry.

State & Area Data

Explore resources for employment and wages by state and area for human resources specialists.

Similar Occupations

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

More Information, Including Links to O*NET

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

What Human Resources Specialists Do

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

Human resources specialists recruit, screen, interview, and place workers. They often handle tasks related to employee relations, compensation and benefits, and training.

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

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 sometimes administer benefits, process payroll, and handle any associated questions or problems, although many specialists may focus more on strategic planning and hiring instead of administrative duties. 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:

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

Recruitment specialists, sometimes known as personnel recruiters or head hunters,” 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.

Work Environment

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

Human resources specialists held about 666,500 jobs in 2019. The largest employers of human resources specialists were as follows:

Employment services 15%
Professional, scientific, and technical services 13
Government 11
Healthcare and social assistance 11
Manufacturing 8

Some organizations contract recruitment and placement work to outside firms, such as those in the employment services industry or consulting firms in the professional, scientific, and technical industry.

Work Schedules

Human resources 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

Human resource specialists
Human resources specialists must usually have a bachelor’s degree in human resources, business, or a related field.

Human resources specialists usually must have a bachelor’s degree.

Education

Human resources specialists typically need a bachelor's degree in human resources, business, or a related field, such as library science or communications.

Coursework typically includes business, industrial relations, psychology, professional writing, human resource management, and accounting.

Work Experience in a Related Occupation

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. For example, the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) offers the SHRM Certified Professional (SHRM-CP) and SHRM Senior Certified Professional (SHRM-SCP). In addition, the HR Certification Institute (HRCI) offers a range of certifications for varying levels of expertise.

Certification usually requires passing an exam, and candidates typically need to meet minimum education and experience requirements. Exams check for human resources knowledge and how candidates apply their knowledge and judgment to different situations.

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.

Advancement

Human resources specialists who possess a thorough knowledge of their organization, as well as an understanding of regulatory compliance needs, can advance to become human resources managers. Specialists can increase their chance of advancement by completing voluntary certification programs.

Important Qualities

Communication skills. Listening and speaking skills are essential for human resources specialists. They must convey information effectively, and pay careful attention to questions and concerns from job applicants and employees. 

Decisionmaking skills. Human resources specialists use decisionmaking skills when reviewing candidates’ qualifications or when working to resolve disputes.

Detail oriented. Specialists must be detail oriented when evaluating applicants’ qualifications, performing background checks, maintaining records of an employee grievance, and ensuring that a workplace is in compliance with labor standards.

Interpersonal skills. Specialists continually interact with new people and must be able to converse and connect with people from different backgrounds.

Pay

Human Resources Specialists

Median annual wages, May 2020

Business operations specialists

$71,450

Human resources specialists

$63,490

Total, all occupations

$41,950

 

The median annual wage for human resources specialists was $63,490 in May 2020. 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 $37,710, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $109,350.

In May 2020, the median annual wages for human resources specialists in the top industries in which they worked were as follows:

Professional, scientific, and technical services $71,960
Government 70,410
Manufacturing 66,980
Employment services 54,920
Healthcare and social assistance 54,170

Many human resources specialists, 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.

Job Outlook

Human Resources Specialists

Percent change in employment, projected 2019-29

Human resources specialists

7%

Business operations specialists

6%

Total, all occupations

4%

 

Employment of human resources specialists is projected to grow 7 percent from 2019 to 2029, faster than the average for all occupations.

Companies are likely to continue to outsource human resources functions to organizations that provide these services, rather than directly employing human resources specialists. In addition, the services of human resources generalists will likely be needed to handle increasingly complex employment laws and benefit options.

Job Prospects

Job prospects for human resources specialists are expected to be favorable, with 64,500 openings projected annually, on average, over the decade.

Many of these 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.

Overall, candidates with a bachelor’s degree and professional certification should have the best job prospects.

Employment projections data for human resources specialists, 2019-29

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

Occupational Title

Human resources specialists

SOC Code13-1071
Employment, 2019666,500
Projected Employment, 2029713,500
Percent Change, 2019-297
Numeric Change, 2019-2946,900
Employment by IndustryGet data

State & Area Data

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.com. 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

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

Occupation Job Duties ENTRY-LEVEL EDUCATION 2020 MEDIAN PAY
Compensation and benefits managers

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Bachelor's degree $125,130
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 $67,190
Customer service representatives

Customer Service Representatives

Customer service representatives interact with customers to handle complaints, process orders, and answer questions.

High school diploma or equivalent $35,830
Human resources managers

Human Resources Managers

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Bachelor's degree $121,220
Insurance sales agents

Insurance Sales Agents

Insurance sales agents contact potential customers and sell one or more types of insurance.

High school diploma or equivalent $52,180

Labor Relations Specialists

Labor relations specialists interpret and administer labor contracts.

Bachelor's degree $73,240
public relations specialists image

Public Relations Specialists

Public relations specialists create and maintain a favorable public image for the organization they represent.

Bachelor's degree $62,810
Tax examiners and collectors, and revenue agents

Tax Examiners and Collectors, and Revenue Agents

Tax examiners and collectors, and revenue agents determine how much is owed in taxes and collect tax from individuals and businesses on behalf of the government.

Bachelor's degree $55,640
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 $115,640
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 $62,700

Contacts for More Info

Last Modified Date: Wednesday, June 2, 2021

Suggested citation:

Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, Human Resources Specialists,
at https://www.bls.gov/ooh/business-and-financial/human-resources-specialists.htm (visited June 02, 2021).

Telephone: 1-202-691-5700 www.bls.gov/ooh Contact OOH

View this page on regular www.bls.gov

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