What They 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 One: 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.
Salary: The median annual wage for human resources specialists is $63,490.
Job Outlook: Employment of human resources specialists is projected to grow 10 percent over the next ten years, about as fast as the average for all occupations.
Related Careers: Compare the job duties, education, job growth, and pay of human resources specialists with similar occupations.
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Human resources specialists recruit, screen, interview, and place workers. They often handle tasks related to employee relations, compensation and benefits, and training.
Human resources specialists typically do the following:
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.
Human resources specialists hold about 674,800 jobs. The largest employers of human resources specialists are as follows:
|Professional, scientific, and technical services||14%|
|Healthcare and social assistance||11%|
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.
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.
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Human resources specialists usually must have a bachelor's degree.
Applicants seeking positions as a human resources specialist usually must have a bachelor's degree in human resources, business, or a related field.
Coursework typically includes business, industrial relations, psychology, professional writing, human resource management, and accounting.
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.
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.
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.
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.
The median annual wage for human resources specialists is $63,490. 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.
The median annual wages for human resources specialists in the top industries in which they work are as follows:
|Professional, scientific, and technical services||$71,960|
|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.
Employment of human resources specialists is projected to grow 10 percent over the next ten years, about as fast as the average for all occupations.
About 73,400 openings for human resources specialists are projected each year, on average, over the decade. Many 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.
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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.
|Occupational Title||Employment, 2020||Projected Employment, 2030||Change, 2020-30|
|Human resources specialists||674,800||745,100||7||70,200|
A portion of the information on this page is used by permission of the U.S. Department of Labor.