Labor Relations Degree and Certification Program Information

Labor relations refers to employer and employee relationships and interactions. Students looking to pursue a career in labor relations should consider a bachelor's degree program in industrial and labor relations or a master's degree in labor relations.

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Essential Information

Bachelor's degree programs in labor relations or a related field, such as human resources or business administration, can prepare students for entry-level positions, while graduate degree programs might lead to advanced levels of employment.

While preparing for careers that include human resource managers and mediators, students likely will learn about labor and employment law as well as collective bargaining techniques. Certifications are available for those with minimal experience as well as for established labor relations professionals who satisfy requirements and pass an examination.

Students seeking admission to a bachelor's degree program in labor relations will need a high school diploma, GED or associate's degree. Master's degree students need a bachelor's degree, satisfactory scores on GRE or GMAT examinations and prerequisite coursework in statistics, behavioral sciences and economics.

Bachelor of Science in Industrial and Labor Relations

Programs at the baccalaureate level in labor relations provide a broad introduction to the social sciences in the first two years and allow some customization during the junior and senior years. The courses within a labor relations program teach students strategies to overcome the problems encountered in the workplace. Students also learn about law, diversity, management and unions. The curriculum includes courses in:

  • Statistics
  • Labor and employment law
  • Human resource management
  • Collective bargaining
  • Labor movements
  • Conflict resolution

Master's Degree in Labor Relations

An advanced degree in labor relations emphasizes an in-depth understanding of the history, legal issues and general practices for management in the business world. Students prepare to work as the intermediary between employers and employees through studies on management techniques, mediation and negotiation. Courses in this program are interdisciplinary and emphasize policy and law in the workplace. Topics may include:

  • Employment law
  • Labor relations law
  • Human resources management
  • Labor disputes
  • Performance appraisal
  • Compensation and benefits

Find schools that offer these popular programs

  • Human Resources Development
  • Labor and Industrial Relations
  • Labor Studies
  • Organizational Behavior

Certification in Labor Relations

The most common certification program for labor relations professionals is sponsored by the Human Resources Certification Institute. The Professional in Human Resources (PHR) and Senior Professional in Human Resources (SPHR) are the two available designations within this organization. Opportunities are available for PHR certification for those with entry-level experience, while professionals who have leadership roles in the field generally obtain the SPHR designation.

Although there are numerous preparatory courses available, there is no required coursework to obtain the certification. Students are required to complete a comprehensive examination covering the following modules:

  • Strategic management
  • Workforce planning and employment
  • Human resource development
  • Total rewards
  • Employee and labor relations
  • Risk management

Popular Career Options

Graduates with a bachelor's degree in labor relations generally pursue entry-level positions in a human-resources field. Careers are available as:

  • Human resources manager
  • Contracts administrator
  • Collective bargaining associate
  • Education and training

Employment Outlook and Salary Info

Labor relations professionals are in the growing field of human resources, and jobs are expected to grow 9% between 2014 and 2024, which is faster than the average rate for all occupations. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual wage for human resources managers is $104,440 in May 2015; however, wages vary widely depending upon region and type of employer (

Continuing Education

Students wishing to pursue a career in research or teaching may enroll in a Ph.D. in Labor Relations program. Curricula are generally tailored to a student's interests and may focus on collective bargaining or organizational behavior.

Students can complete a bachelor's or master's degree program in labor relations to prepare for human resources careers that include manager, contract administrator or collective bargaining associate. Professional certification is also available to professionals who can demonstrate their understanding of such topics as strategic management and employee relations.

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