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Labor Relations Manager: Job Description and Education Requirements

Learn about the education and preparation needed to become a labor relations manager. Get a quick view of the requirements as well as details about degree programs, job duties and necessary skills to find out if this is the career for you.

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A labor relations manager has a number of responsibilities, such as negotiating agreements between labor organizations and a company, studying wage data, and researching labor laws. Since labor relations managers handle employee grievances, labor disputes, and strikes, they need to have excellent communication skills.

Essential Information

Labor relations managers help businesses acquire the best workers for a job and negotiate salary and other benefits with them. In addition to strong communication skills, they must have the ability to research and understand wage information and labor laws. This career requires a bachelor's degree for entry-level positions and a master's degree for the top managerial roles.

Required Education Bachelor's degree for entry-level, master's degree for managerial positions
Other Requirements Strong negotiating skills
Projected Job Growth (2018-2028) 7% (all human resources managers)*
Median Salary (2019) $91,263 (labor relations managers)**

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, **PayScale.com

Labor Relations Manager Job Description

Labor relations managers are employed in any number of businesses. This position can be found at corporate offices or at smaller branch offices. The labor relations manager is responsible for negotiating agreements between a company and a labor organization or individual employees. He or she researches labor law, bargaining procedures, economic data, and wage data common for careers, industries, and states. The items handled in negotiations include union practices, pensions, healthcare, welfare, salary, and grievances.

Labor relations managers also help to resolve disputes, complaints, and strikes. They may work with mediators and arbitrators to determine the conditions of new labor agreements.

Labor Relations Manager Education Requirements

Labor relations managers who are just starting out need at least a bachelor's degree for entry-level positions. Undergraduate labor relations degrees are not common; however, many concentrations, minors, and specializations exist for human resource management. For instance, an aspiring labor relations manager could enroll in a bachelor's degree program in business administration with a human resource management concentration.

The curriculum for these programs goes over the principles and foundations of management. Classes cover topics such as business ethics, organizational behavior, labor relations, labor history, and business policy. Classes in business administration can provide helpful background for labor relations managers when working with companies in negotiations. They may also take courses related to the particular industry in which they will work.

For higher level positions, labor relations managers may need a master's degree in labor relations or a master's degree in business administration with a human resources concentration. A graduate degree in labor relations may be offered with concentrations such as dispute resolution, international labor, or market policy. Bachelor's degree programs take four years to complete, and master's degrees require an additional two years.

Salary Info and Job Outlook

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS, www.bls.gov), the employment of human resources managers such as labor relations managers is expected to increase by about 7% between 2018 and 2028. PayScale.com reported in August 2019 that salaries earned by most labor relations managers ranged from $61,000 to $123,000 annually, including bonuses and profit sharing. The same source reported that the median annual income for these professionals is $91,263.

For an entry-level labor relations position, a bachelor's degree is required, and a specialization in human resource management is recommended. For those aspiring to pursue managerial positions within the labor relations field, a master's degree is typically required.

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