Human Resources Specialists

Summary

Human resource specialists
Human resources specialists interview candidates for jobs.
Quick Facts: Human Resources Specialists
2010 Median Pay $52,690 per year
$25.33 per hour
Entry-Level Education Bachelor’s degree
Work Experience in a Related Occupation None
On-the-job Training None
Number of Jobs, 2010 442,200
Job Outlook, 2010-20 21% (Faster than average)
Employment Change, 2010-20 90,700

What Human Resources Specialists Do

Human resources specialists recruit, screen, interview, and place workers. They also may handle human resources work in a variety of other areas, such as employee relations, payroll and benefits, and training.

Work Environment

Although human resources specialists are employed in nearly every industry, many are concentrated in employment services, working for staffing and human resources firms. Some travel extensively to attend job fairs, visit college campuses, and meet with applicants. Most work full time.

How to Become a Human Resources Specialist

Most positions require a bachelor’s degree, but for some, including interviewers, a high school diploma is sufficient. Although most employers prefer or require applicants who have a bachelor’s degree, some may accept related work experience as a substitute for education.

Pay

The median annual wage of human resources specialists was $52,690 in May 2010.

Job Outlook

Employment of human resources specialists is expected to grow 21 percent from 2010 to 2020, faster than the average for all occupations. Job opportunities should be good overall, especially in the employment services industry.

Similar Occupations

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

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Contacts for More Information

Learn more about human resources specialists by contacting these additional resources.

What Human Resources Specialists Do

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

Human resources specialists recruit, screen, interview, and place workers. They also may handle human resources work in a variety of other areas, such as employee relations, payroll and benefits, and training.

Duties

Human resources specialists typically do the following:

  • Consult with employers to identify employment needs and preferred qualifications
  • Interview applicants about their experience, education, training, 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

Many specialists are trained in all human resources disciplines and do tasks throughout all areas of the department. In addition to recruiting and placing workers, these specialists help guide employees through all human resources procedures and answer questions about policies. They often administer benefits, process payroll, and handle any associated questions or problems. They also ensure that all human resources functions comply with federal, state, and local regulations. 

The following are types of human resources specialists:

Employment interviewers work in an employment office and interview potential applicants for job openings. They then refer suitable candidates to employers for consideration.   

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

Labor relations specialists interpret and administer a labor contract, regarding issues such as wages and salaries, employee welfare, healthcare, pensions, and union and management practices. They also handle grievance procedures, which are a formal process through which employees can make complaints.

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, find, screen, and interview applicants for job openings in an organization. They search for job applicants by posting job 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 442,200 jobs in 2010 and are employed in nearly every industry. About 17 percent worked in the employment services industry, which includes employment placement agencies, temporary help services, and professional employer organizations. 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.

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 work full time.

How to Become a Human Resources Specialist

Human resource specialists
Some human resources specialists travel to attend job fairs and recruit applicants.

Most positions require that applicants have a bachelor’s degree. However, the level of education and experience required to become a human resources specialist varies by position and employer. 

Education and Work Experience

Most positions require a bachelor’s degree. When hiring a human resources generalist, for example, most employers prefer applicants who have a bachelor’s degree in human resources, business, or a related field.

Although candidates with a high school diploma may qualify for some interviewing and recruiting positions, employers usually require several years of related work experience as a substitute for education.

Some positions, particularly human resources generalists, may require work experience. Candidates often gain experience as human resources assistants, in customer service positions, or in other related jobs.

Certification

Many professional associations that specialize in human resources offer courses intended to enhance the skills of their members, and some offer certification programs. 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 competence across all human resources areas. 

Important Qualities

Decision-making skills. Human resources specialists use decision-making skills when reviewing candidates’ qualifications and in recruiting and selecting them for job openings. 

Detail oriented. Human resources specialists must be detail oriented when evaluating applicants’ qualifications, performing background checks, and maintaining employment records. 

Interpersonal skills. Interpersonal skills are essential for human resources specialists. When recruiting and interviewing candidates, they continually interact with new people and must be able to converse and connect with people from varied backgrounds. 

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

Speaking skills. Human resources 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. Recruiters also must persuade top candidates to consider their organization.

Pay

Human Resources Specialists

Median annual wages, May 2010

Business Operations Specialists

$60,660

Human Resources Specialists

$52,690

Total, All Occupations

$33,840

 

The median annual wage of human resources specialists was $52,690 in May 2010. 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 $29,050, and the top 10 percent earned more than $93,260.

Median annual wages in the industries employing the largest numbers of human resources specialists in May 2010 were:

Federal government, excluding postal service$77,370
Management of companies and enterprises58,220
Religious, grantmaking, civic, professional,
and similar organizations
48,660
State government, excluding education and hospitals44,810
Employment services43,770

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

Job Outlook

Human Resources Specialists

Percent change in employment, projected 2010-20

Human Resources Specialists

21%

Business Operations Specialists

18%

Total, All Occupations

14%

 

Employment of human resources specialists is expected to grow 21 percent from 2010 to 2020, faster than the average for all occupations. 

Specifically, employment will increase 55 percent in the employment services industry. About 17 percent of human resources specialists work in this industry, which includes employment placement agencies, temporary help services, and professional employer organizations. Organizations will continue to outsource human resources functions to professional employer organizations—companies that provide human resources services to client businesses. Additionally, rather than having recruiters and interviewers on staff, these businesses will contract preliminary staffing work to employment placement and temporary staffing agencies as needed. 

In other industries, employment growth largely depends on the growth of individual firms. As firms grow, they will expand their human resources departments to continue to provide the same level of services and functions. Companies will need human resources specialists to find replacements for workers leaving the workforce, and companies are increasingly emphasizing the importance of finding and keeping quality employees. In addition, organizations will likely need more human resources generalists to handle increasingly complex employment laws and health care coverage options.   

Employment growth of human resources specialists, however, may be tempered as companies better use available technologies. Rather than sending recruiters to colleges and job fairs, for example, some employers increasingly have their entire recruiting and application process online. In addition, some of the tasks of generalists can be automated or made more efficient using Human Resources Information Systems—software that allows workers to quickly manage, process, or update human resource information.   

Job Prospects

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

Candidates with a bachelor’s degree and related work experience should have the best job prospects. Human resources generalists, in particular, also may benefit from having knowledge of human resources programs, employment laws, and human resources information systems.

Employment projections data for human resources specialists, 2010-20
Occupational Title SOC Code Employment, 2010 Projected Employment, 2020 Change, 2010-20 Employment by Industry
Percent Numeric

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

Human Resources, Training, and Labor Relations Specialists, All Other

13-1078 442,200 532,900 21 90,700 [XLS]

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 Help 2010 MEDIAN PAY Help
Insurance sales agents

Insurance Sales Agents

Insurance sales agents help insurance companies generate new business by contacting potential customers and selling one or more types of insurance. An agent explains various insurance policies and helps clients choose plans that suit them.

High school diploma or equivalent $46,770
Compensation and benefits managers

Compensation and Benefits Managers

Compensation managers plan, direct, and coordinate how and how much an organization pays its employees. Benefits managers do the same for retirement plans, health insurance, and other benefits an organization offers its employees.

Bachelor’s degree $89,270
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 $99,180
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 $89,170
Public relations managers and specialists

Public Relations Managers and Specialists

Public relations managers and specialists create and maintain a favorable public image for their employer or client. They write material for media releases, plan and direct public relations programs, and raise funds for their organizations.

Bachelor’s degree $57,550
Tax examiners and collectors, and revenue agents

Tax Examiners and Collectors, and Revenue Agents

Tax examiners and collectors, and revenue agents ensure that 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 $49,360
Social and human service assistants

Social and Human Service Assistants

Social and human service assistants help people get through difficult times or get additional support. They help other workers, such as social workers, and they help clients find benefits or community services.

High school diploma or equivalent $28,200
Customer service representatives

Customer Service Representatives

Customer service representatives interact with customers on behalf of an organization. They provide information about products and services and respond to customer complaints. Some also take orders and process returns.

High school diploma or equivalent $30,460
Suggested citation:

Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2012-13 Edition, Human Resources Specialists,
on the Internet at http://www.bls.gov/ooh/business-and-financial/human-resources-specialists.htm (visited April 25, 2015).

Publish Date: Thursday, March 29, 2012