Labor Relations Specialist Career Information

Should I Become a Labor Relations Specialist?

Labor relations specialists often work in the human resources departments of organizations. They serve as liaisons between management and workers, helping to resolve disputes or overall breakdowns in communication. They negotiate wages, conditions and benefits. They can help companies avoid litigation, work on collective bargaining accords and handle complaints. The nature of this work often provides a stressful environment.

Knowledge of labor or employment law and familiarity with the National Labor Relations Act and the Fair Labor Standards Act is usually required. A bachelor's degree is also essential, typically in labor and employment relations, and a master's degree may be helpful for career advancement or required by some employers.

Career Requirements

Degree Level Bachelor's degree required; some employers prefer a master's degree
Degree Field Labor and employment relations, business, human resources
Training Internships available
Certification Some employers require HR certification
Key Skills Decision-making skills, speaking and interpersonal skills, basic computer skills
Salary (2014) $56,950 per year (median for labor relations specialists)

Sources: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Rutgers University School of Management and Labor Relations

Step 1: Earn a Bachelor's Degree

A labor relations specialist usually needs at least a bachelor's degree to begin his or her career. Bachelor's degree programs in labor and employee relations are offered at some universities, and there are some online learning opportunities available. These programs typically cover labor law, human resources, business administration and negotiation strategies. A bachelor's degree in business, industrial relations, human resources or a related field may also suffice for some positions.

Success Tips:

  • Join a professional association. Joining a professional human resources organization, such as The Society for Human Resource Management, can give one access to networking and career development opportunities. Student chapters are available at some campuses with discount membership rates.
  • Undertake an internship. Internships can provide real work experience to students looking to enter the field upon graduation. They are also attractive to employers, who generally look for experienced workers. Some bachelor's degree programs offer internships as part of the curriculum.

Step 2: Get Professional Certification

Obtaining certification in the area of human resources (HR) can show prospective employers that one has amassed a certain level of work experience and expertise in HR principles; some employers also request certification. The Society for Human Resource Management offers three levels of certification for both bachelor's- and master's-educated HR professionals.

Step 3: Earn a Graduate Degree to Advance

Many mid-range or upper tier labor relations positions require significant experience and graduate degrees. Master's degree programs in employment and labor relations emphasize coursework in conflict resolution, negotiations and labor law. Some companies also consider candidates with law degrees.

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