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Human Resources Specialist Career

Career Description

A Human Resources Specialist performs the administrative function of an organization, such as handling employee benefits questions or recruiting, interviewing, and hiring new staff in accordance with policies established by top management. They also consult with top executives regarding strategic planning. They have moved from behind-the-scenes staff work to leading the company in suggesting and changing policies.

Common Work Tasks

  • Enhance morale and productivity, limit job turnover, and help organizations increase performance and improve business results
  • Help their firms effectively use employee skills, provide training and development opportunities to improve those skills,  and increase employees’ satisfaction with their jobs and working conditions
  • Handle all aspects of human resources work
  • Supervise several departments, each headed by an experienced manager who most likely specializes in one human resources activity, such as employment and placement; compensation, and benefits;  training and development; or labor relations
  • Supervise the hiring and separation of employees, employment, recruitment, and placement specialists, including recruitment specialists and employment interviewers
  • Travel to college campuses to search for promising job applicants
  • Screen, interview, test, check references and extend job offers
  • Discuss wages, working conditions, and promotional opportunities with prospective employees
  • Manage the company’s employee benefits program,  including health insurance and pension plans
  • Conduct and supervise training and development programs for employees

Other Job Titles

Human Resources Specialists are also known by other titles,  including:

  • Human Resources Generalist
  • Recruiter
  • Employment and Placement Manager
  • Employee Benefits Specialist
  • Occupational Analyst
  • Labor Relations Manager

Education,  Training, and Experience

Education and Training
  The educational background of a human resources specialist can vary considerably,  reflecting the diversity of duties and levels of responsibility. In filling entry-level jobs, many employers seek college graduates who have majored in human resources, human resources administration, or industrial and labor relations. Other employers look for college graduates with a technical or business background or a well-rounded liberal arts education.

      Previous experience is an asset for many specialties in the human resources field, and is essential for more advanced positions, including managers, arbitrators, and mediators. Many employers prefer entry-level workers who have gained some experience through an internship or work-study program while in school. Human resources administration and human resources development require the ability to work with individuals as well as a commitment to organizational goals. This field also demands other skills that people may develop elsewhere—using computers, selling, teaching, supervising, and volunteering, among others. The field offers clerical workers opportunities for advancement to professional positions. Responsible positions occasionally are filled by experienced individuals from other fields, including business, government, education,  social services administration, and the military.


The median annual salary of a Human Resource Specialist is $54,000. The top 10 percent earn more than $91,000 annually, and the bottom 10 percent earn less than $28,000 annually. Median earnings in the industries employing the largest number of human resources specialists are:

  • Business, Professional, Labor, Political, and Similar Organizations - $48,000
  • Federal Executive Branch - $73,930
  • Management of Companies and Enterprises - $62,250
  • Local Government - $54,400
  • Employment Services - $56,660

Job Outlook

  • 2006-2016 Employment growth:  17%
  • Number of new jobs created 2006-2016: 147,000
  • Employment 2006 : 868,000
  • Employment 2016:  1,015,000
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