Human Resources Specialists

Summary

human resources specialists image
Many human resources specialists interview applicants and help place workers.
Quick Facts: Human Resources Specialists
2014 Median Pay $57,420 per year
$27.60 per hour
Typical Entry-Level Education Bachelor's degree
Work Experience in a Related Occupation None
On-the-job Training None
Number of Jobs, 2014 482,000
Job Outlook, 2014-24 5% (As fast as average)
Employment Change, 2014-24 22,000

What Human Resources Specialists Do

Human resources specialists recruit, screen, interview, and place workers. They often handle other human resources work, such as those related to 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 $57,420 in May 2014.

Job Outlook

Employment of human resources specialists is projected to grow 5 percent from 2014 to 2024, about as fast as 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 employment 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 About this section

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. 

Placement specialists match employers with qualified jobseekers. They search for candidates who have the skills, education, and work experience needed for jobs, and they try to place those candidates with employers. They also may help set up interviews.

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 About this section

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

Human resources specialists held about 482,000 jobs in 2014. The industries that employed the most human resources specialists were as follows:

Employment services 16%
Government 14
Professional, scientific, and technical services 12
Healthcare and social assistance 11
Manufacturing 7

Because hiring needs may vary throughout the year, many organizations contract recruitment and placement work to outside human resources firms rather than keep permanent human resources specialists on staff.

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 About this section

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

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

Education

Applicants seeking positions as a human resources specialist must usually 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.

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).

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

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. 

Listening skills. Listening skills are essential for human resources specialists. When interviewing job applicants, for example, specialists must pay careful attention to candidates’ responses, understand the points they are making, and ask relevant followup questions. 

Speaking skills. All specialists need strong speaking skills to be effective at their job. They often give presentations and must be able to clearly convey information about their organizations and jobs within them.

Pay About this section

Human Resources Specialists

Median annual wages, May 2014

Business operations specialists

$63,880

Human resources specialists

$57,420

Total, all occupations

$35,540

 

The median annual wage for human resources specialists was $57,420 in May 2014. 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 $33,630, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $98,130.

In May 2014, the median annual wages for human resources specialists in the top industries in which they worked were as follows:

Professional, scientific, and technical services $63,310
Government 62,200
Manufacturing 61,060
Healthcare and social assistance 49,420
Employment services 48,170

Many human resources specialists, particularly recruiters, travel extensively to attend job fairs, visit college campuses, and meet with applicants.

Most specialists work full time during regular business hours.

Job Outlook About this section

Human Resources Specialists

Percent change in employment, projected 2014-24

Business operations specialists

7%

Total, all occupations

7%

Human resources specialists

5%

 

Employment of human resources specialists is projected to grow 5 percent from 2014 to 2024, about as fast as the average for all occupations.

About 16 percent of human resources specialists work in the employment services industry, which includes employment placement agencies, temporary help services, and professional employer organizations. Employment growth in employment services is projected to be faster than the average as organizations continue to outsource human resources functions to professional employer organizations—companies that provide human resources services to client businesses.

Companies will need human resources specialists to find replacements for workers leaving the workforce. Organizations will likely need more human resources generalists to handle increasingly complex employment laws and healthcare coverage options.   

However, employment of human resources specialists will be tempered as companies make better use of available technologies. Rather than sending recruiters to colleges and job fairs, for example, some employers are increasingly conducting their entire recruiting process online. In addition, administrative tasks are more efficient with software that allows workers to quickly manage, process, or update human resources information. 

Job Prospects

Job prospects for human resources specialists are expected to be favorable. Specifically, job opportunities should be good in the employment services industry, as companies continue to outsource portions of their human resources functions to other firms. 

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

Employment projections data for human resources specialists, 2014-24
Occupational Title SOC Code Employment, 2014 Projected Employment, 2024 Change, 2014-24 Employment by Industry
Percent Numeric

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

Human resources specialists

13-1071 482,000 503,900 5 22,000 [XLSX]

State & Area Data About this section

Occupational Employment Statistics (OES)

The Occupational Employment Statistics (OES) 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.

Career InfoNet

America’s Career InfoNet 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 human resources specialists.

Occupation Job Duties ENTRY-LEVEL EDUCATION Help 2014 MEDIAN PAY Help
Compensation and benefits managers

Compensation and Benefits Managers

Compensation managers plan, develop, and oversee programs to determine how much an organization pays its employees and how employees are paid. Benefits managers plan, direct, and coordinate retirement plans, health insurance, and other benefits that an organization offers its employees.

Bachelor's degree $108,070
compensation benefits and job analysis specialists image

Compensation, Benefits, and Job Analysis Specialists

Compensation, benefits, and job analysis specialists conduct an organization’s compensation and benefits programs. They also evaluate position descriptions to determine details such as a person’s classification and salary.

Bachelor's degree $60,600
Customer service representatives

Customer Service Representatives

Customer service representatives interact with customers to handle complaints, process orders, and provide information about an organization’s products and services.

High school diploma or equivalent $31,200
Human resources managers

Human Resources Managers

Human resources managers plan, direct, and coordinate the administrative functions of an organization. They oversee the recruiting, interviewing, and hiring of new staff; consult with top executives on strategic planning; and serve as a link between an organization’s management and its employees.

Bachelor's degree $102,780
Insurance sales agents

Insurance Sales Agents

Insurance sales agents contact potential customers and sell one or more types of insurance. Insurance sales agents explain various insurance policies and help clients choose plans that suit them.

High school diploma or equivalent $47,860

Labor Relations Specialists

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

Bachelor's degree $56,950
public relations specialists image

Public Relations Specialists

Public relations specialists create and maintain a favorable public image for the organization they represent. They design media releases to shape public perception of their organization and to increase awareness of its work and goals.

Bachelor's degree $55,680
Social and human service assistants

Social and Human Service Assistants

Social and human service assistants provide client services, including support for families, in a wide variety of fields, such as psychology, rehabilitation, and social work. They assist other workers, such as social workers, and they help clients find benefits or community services.

High school diploma or equivalent $29,790
Training and development managers

Training and Development Managers

Training and development managers plan, direct, and coordinate programs to enhance the knowledge and skills of an organization’s employees. They also oversee a staff of training and development specialists.

Bachelor's degree $101,930
Tax examiners and collectors, and revenue agents

Tax Examiners and Collectors, and Revenue Agents

Tax examiners and collectors, and revenue agents ensure that federal, state, and local governments get their tax money from businesses and citizens. They review tax returns, conduct audits, identify taxes owed, and collect overdue tax payments.

Bachelor's degree $51,120
training and development specialists image

Training and Development Specialists

Training and development specialists plan, conduct, and administer programs that train employees and improve their skills and knowledge.

Bachelor's degree $57,340
Suggested citation:

Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2016-17 Edition, Human Resources Specialists,
on the Internet at http://www.bls.gov/ooh/business-and-financial/human-resources-specialists.htm (visited February 14, 2016).

Publish Date: Thursday, December 17, 2015

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. This tab may also provide information on earnings in the major industries employing the occupation.

State & Area Data

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

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).

2014 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 Statistics survey. In May 2014, the median annual wage for all workers was $35,540.

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, 2014

The employment, or size, of this occupation in 2014, which is the base year of the 2014-24 employment projections.

Job Outlook, 2014-24

The projected percent change in employment from 2014 to 2024. The average growth rate for all occupations is 7 percent.

Employment Change, 2014-24

The projected numeric change in employment from 2014 to 2024.

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 2014-24

The projected numeric change in employment from 2014 to 2024.

Growth Rate (Projected)

The percent change of employment for each occupation from 2014 to 2024.

Projected Number of New Jobs

The projected numeric change in employment from 2014 to 2024.

Projected Growth Rate

The projected percent change in employment from 2014 to 2024.

2014 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 Statistics survey. In May 2014, the median annual wage for all workers was $35,547.