Bureau of Labor Statistics

Labor Relations Specialists

labor-relations-specialists_summary
Labor relations specialists interpret and administer labor contracts regarding issues such as employee welfare, healthcare, and pensions.
Quick Facts: Labor Relations Specialists
2020 Median Pay $73,240 per year
$35.21 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, 2020 73,500
Job Outlook, 2020-30 -4% (Decline)
Employment Change, 2020-30 -3,200

Summary

What Labor Relations Specialists Do

Labor relations specialists interpret and administer labor contracts.

Work Environment

Labor relations specialists generally work in offices. Most work full time during regular business hours.

How to Become a Labor Relations Specialist

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

Pay

The median annual wage for labor relations specialists was $73,240 in May 2020.

Job Outlook

Employment of labor relations specialists is projected to decline 4 percent from 2020 to 2030.

Despite declining employment, about 6,400 openings for labor relations specialists are projected each year, on average, over the decade. All of those openings are expected to result from the need to replace workers who transfer to other 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

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

Labor relations specialists interpret and administer labor contracts regarding issues such as wages and salaries, healthcare, pensions, and union and management practices.

Duties

Labor relations specialists typically do the following:

  • Advise management on contracts, worker grievances, and disciplinary procedures
  • Lead meetings between management and labor
  • Meet with union representatives
  • Draft proposals and rules or regulations
  • Ensure that human resources policies are consistent with union agreements
  • Interpret formal communications between management and labor
  • Investigate validity of labor grievances
  • Train management on labor relations

Labor relations specialists work with representatives from 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. These contracts are called collective bargaining agreements (CBAs), and they serve as a legal and procedural guide for employee/management relations.

Labor relations specialists also address specific grievances workers might have, and ensure that all labor and management solutions comply within the relevant CBA.

Work Environment

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

Labor relations specialists held about 73,500 jobs in 2020. The largest employers of labor relations specialists were as follows:

Labor unions and similar labor organizations 75%
Government 4
Management of companies and enterprises 2

Labor relations specialists generally work in offices. Some may travel for arbitration meetings or to discuss contracts with employees or management. The work of labor relations specialists can be stressful because negotiating contracts and resolving labor grievances can be tense.

Work Schedules

Most labor relations specialists work full time during regular business hours. Some specialists work longer periods when preparing for meetings or settling disputes.

How to Become a Labor Relations Specialist

labor relations specialists HOW TO BECOME ONE
Labor relations specialists usually have a bachelor’s degree in labor relations, human resources, industrial relations, business, or a related field.

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

Education

Labor relations specialists usually have a bachelor’s degree. Some schools offer a bachelor’s degree in labor or employment relations. These programs focus on labor-specific topics such as employment law and contract negotiation.

Candidates also may qualify for labor relations specialist positions with a bachelor’s degree in human resources, industrial relations, business, or a related field. Coursework typically includes business, professional writing, human resource management, and accounting.

Work Experience in a Related Occupation

Many positions require previous 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

Some colleges and universities offer labor relations certificates to specialists who prefer greater specialization in certain topics, such as mediation. Earning these certificates give participants a better understanding of labor law, the collective bargaining process, and worker grievance procedures.

Advancement

Labor relations specialists who seek further expertise in contract negotiation, labor law, and similar topics may become lawyers. They will need to earn a law degree and pass their state’s bar exam. 

Important Qualities

Decisionmaking skills. Labor relations specialists use decisionmaking skills to help management and labor agree on decisions when resolving grievances or other disputes.

Detail oriented. Specialists must be detail oriented when evaluating labor laws and maintaining records of an employee grievance.

Interpersonal skills. Interpersonal skills are essential for labor relations specialists. When mediating between labor and management, specialists must be able to converse and connect with people from different backgrounds.

Listening skills. Listening skills are essential for labor relations specialists. When evaluating grievances, for example, they must pay careful attention to workers’ responses, understand the points they are making, and ask relevant follow-up questions.

Writing skills. All labor relations specialists need strong writing skills to be effective at their job. They often draft proposals, and these proposals must be able to convey complex information to both workers and management.

Pay

Labor Relations Specialists

Median annual wages, May 2020

Labor relations specialists

$73,240

Business operations specialists

$71,450

Total, all occupations

$41,950

 

The median annual wage for labor relations specialists was $73,240 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 $19,520, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $128,600.

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

Management of companies and enterprises $90,620
Government 75,010
Labor unions and similar labor organizations 70,580

Most labor relations specialists work full time during regular business hours. Some specialists work longer periods when preparing for meetings or settling disputes.

Job Outlook

Labor Relations Specialists

Percent change in employment, projected 2020-30

Business operations specialists

9%

Total, all occupations

8%

Labor relations specialists

-4%

 

Employment of labor relations specialists is projected to decline 4 percent from 2020 to 2030.

Despite declining employment, about 6,400 openings for labor relations specialists are projected each year, on average, over the decade. All of those openings are expected to result from the need to replace workers who transfer to other occupations or exit the labor force, such as to retire.

Employment

The rate of union membership in 1983 was 20.1 percent; the current rate is about half that. The number of wage and salary workers who are union members is likely to continue declining. Although this will result in less overall demand for the services of labor relations specialists, their expertise and unique skills will maintain some demand for these workers as union negotiations and contract disputes continue.

Employment projections data for labor relations specialists, 2020-30

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

Occupational Title

Labor relations specialists

SOC Code13-1075
Employment, 202073,500
Projected Employment, 203070,300
Percent Change, 2020-30-4
Numeric Change, 2020-30-3,200
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 OES 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 labor relations specialists.

Occupation Job Duties ENTRY-LEVEL EDUCATION 2020 MEDIAN PAY
compensation benefits and job analysis specialists image Compensation, Benefits, and Job Analysis Specialists

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Bachelor's degree $67,190
Human resources managers Human Resources Managers

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Bachelor's degree $121,220
Human resource specialists Human Resources Specialists

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

Bachelor's degree $63,490
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
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
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 $35,960

Contacts for More Info

Last Modified Date: Wednesday, September 8, 2021

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 October 06, 2021).

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

View this page on regular www.bls.gov

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