Human resources, training and labor relations specialists salary & career outlook
For many businesses, success hinges on the competency and dedication of their employees. Finding, training and maintaining a skilled workforce is key, and this is precisely what human resources, training and labor relations specialists are expected to deliver. With the right combination of training and experience, you may become one of them.
Human resources, training and labor relations specialists work in all types of industries and businesses to identify, screen and hire applicants. They conduct orientations and, in some cases, training sessions, and they also oversee employment policies, benefit information and more. While duties can vary greatly from one position to the next, the following are typical duties performed by these professionals, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS):
- Consulting with employers to determine employment needs and candidate skills preferences
- Interviewing applicants for vacant positions
- Contacting job candidate references and doing background checks
- Seeing candidates through the hiring process
- Training new employees and overseeing their orientation periods
- Maintaining employment records and processing paperwork
- Answering employment or benefit questions
- Mitigating disputes between workers and their colleagues or employers
How to become a human resources, training or labor relations specialist
While every employer is different, the BLS reports that a bachelor's degree in human resources, business or a labor-related field is typically the minimum requirement for human resources, training and labor relations specialists. Some students may be able complete at least some of this training online.
Certification usually is not required, though it may be preferred by employers, as it demonstrates a proven level of competency in the field.
In addition to solid training, human resources, training and labor relations specialists must have excellent interpersonal, listening and speaking skills, and must be detail-oriented workers and strong decision-makers.
By the numbers: HR and labor relations specialists' salary trends
It can be difficult to estimate your personal salary potential, due to factors such as location, industry, business size, duties of the job and more. The BLS tracks "Human Resources Specialists," "Compensation, Benefits, and Job Analysis Specialists," and "Training and Development Specialists" as three distinct occupational groups that indicate the specialization areas of each position.
However, the salaries listed for these positions are similar. According to the BLS, the mean annual salary for human resources specialists in 2013 was $61,560; compensation, benefits, and job analysis specialists earned $63,310; and training and development specialists earned $60,780.
Another factor that can influence your paycheck is your chosen industry. The BLS reports that employers in the following industries offered the highest annual salaries for these specialized occupations in 2013:
- Human resources specialists: Securities and commodity contracts intermediation and brokerage ($86,170 mean annual salary)
- Compensation, benefits, and job analysis specialists: Pipeline transportation of natural gas ($89,210 mean)
- Training and development specialists: Federal executive branch ($95,810 mean)
Location can also affect earnings. The states that reported the highest annual salaries for these specialists in 2013, per BLS data were:
- Human resources specialists: District of Columbia ($88,460), Connecticut ($71,330), and Maryland ($70,410)
- Compensation, benefits, and job analysis specialists: District of Columbia ($75,250), Massachusetts ($73,380), and New Jersey ($73,240)
- Training and development specialists: District of Columbia ($74,900), Washington ($71,630), and New Jersey ($70,580)
Career projections for HR and labor relations specialists
Demand for human resources and labor relations specialists is expected to remain steady, growing at a rate of 7 percent, which is slightly slower than average for all occupations. The BLS suggests that employment growth will be heavier in employment services firms, which include temporary placement agencies and professional employer organizations. Additionally, many companies are opting to hire HR professionals on an independent consultant basis, rather than hiring them for full-time work. Prospects may be improved with specialization in the areas of human resources programs, employment law, collective bargaining and HR information systems.
Certain individual states are expected to have especially strong growth. For instance, the top three states for job growth (albeit in a slightly different order) are the same for both human resources specialists and training & development specialists. These include:
As with earnings, employment potential may improve with experience and training, whether on the job or through formal human resources and labor relations specialist schools.
Long Term Occupational Projections for Human Resources Specialists and Training & Development Specialists, Projections Central,
Occupational Employment and Wages: Human Resources Specialists, Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Employment Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, April 1, 2014,
Occupational Employment and Wages: Training and Development Specialists, , Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Employment Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, April 1, 2014,
Occupational Employment and Wages: Compensation, Benefits, and Job Analysis Specialists, Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Employment Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, April 1, 2014,
Human Resources Specialists and Labor Relations Specialists, "Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2014-15 Edition," Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Jan. 8, 2014,