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What Human Resources Specialists Do About this section

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

Human resources specialists recruit, screen, and interview job applicants and place newly hired workers in jobs. They also may handle compensation and benefits, training, and employee relations.

Duties

Human resources specialists typically do the following:

  • Consult with employers to identify hiring needs
  • Interview job applicants about their relevant experience, education, and skills
  • Check applicants' references and backgrounds
  • Inform applicants about job details, such as duties, benefits, and working conditions
  • Hire or refer qualified applicants
  • Run or help with new employee orientation
  • Keep employment records and process paperwork

Human resources specialists often are trained in tasks for all disciplines of a human resources department. In addition to recruiting applicants and placing workers, human resources specialists help guide employees through human resources procedures and answer questions about an organization’s policies. They sometimes administer benefits, process payroll, and handle associated questions or problems. Some specialists focus more on strategic planning and hiring than on administrative duties. They also ensure that all human resources functions comply with federal, state, and local regulations.

The following are examples of types of human resources specialists:

Human resources generalists handle all aspects of human resources work. Their duties include recruitment, compensation, benefits, training, and employee relations, as well as administering human resources policies, procedures, and programs.

Recruitment specialists, sometimes known as recruiters ortalent acquisition specialists, find, screen, and interview applicants for job openings in an organization. They search for applicants by posting listings, attending job fairs, and visiting college campuses. They also may test applicants, contact references, and extend job offers.

Some specialists focus on a certain area of human resources, such as retirement or training. For information about those who focus on an organization’s wage and nonwage programs for workers, see the profile on compensation, benefits, and job analysis specialists. For information about those who plan and administer programs that improve workers’ skills and knowledge, see the profile on training and development specialists.

Work Environment About this section

Human resource specialists
Employment interviewers speak with applicants and ask them questions before referring them to appropriate jobs.

Human resources specialists held about 674,800 jobs in 2020. The largest employers of human resources specialists were as follows:

Employment services 14%
Professional, scientific, and technical services 14
Government 11
Healthcare and social assistance 11
Manufacturing 8

Some organizations contract recruitment and placement work to outside firms, such as those in the employment services industry or the professional, scientific, and technical industry.

Work Schedules

Human resources specialists generally work in office settings. Some, particularly recruitment specialists, travel to attend job fairs, visit college campuses, and meet with applicants.

Most specialists work full time during regular business hours. Some work more than 40 hours per week.

How to Become a Human Resources Specialist About this section

Human resource specialists
Human resources specialists must usually have a bachelor’s degree in human resources, business, or a related field.

Human resources specialists typically need a bachelor’s degree to enter the occupation.

Education

Human resources specialists typically need a bachelor's degree in human resources, business, communications, or a related field.

By working in an internship during college, students gain relevant experience that may be helpful in competing for human resources specialist jobs. Internships in human resources departments may help prospective specialists to increase their understanding of the occupation and to network in an industry.

Other Experience

Some positions require human resources specialists to have relevant work experience. Candidates may gain experience as human resources assistants (information clerks), customer service representatives, or in related occupations.

Employers also may prefer to hire candidates who have experience in areas such as personnel recruitment, staff training and development, employee relations, and compensation and benefits. Candidates sometimes get this experience while in college, either through courses or by volunteering.

Licenses, Certifications, and Registrations

Professional associations that specialize in human resources offer courses to enhance the skills of their members, and some offer certification programs. For example, the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) offers the SHRM Certified Professional (SHRM-CP) and SHRM Senior Certified Professional (SHRM-SCP), and the HR Certification Institute (HRCI) offers a range of certifications for varying levels of expertise.

Certification usually requires that candidates pass an exam that covers human resources knowledge and asks candidates to apply their knowledge to different situations. Candidates for certification also typically need to meet minimum education and experience requirements.

Although certification is usually voluntary, some employers prefer or require it. Human resources generalists, in particular, may benefit from certification because it shows knowledge and professional competence across all human resources areas.

Advancement

Human resources specialists who have a thorough knowledge of their organization and its personnel regulations may advance to become human resources managers. Specialists may increase their chance of advancement by taking on new responsibilities or completing voluntary certification programs.

Important Qualities

Communication skills. Listening and speaking skills are essential for human resources specialists. They must convey information effectively and respond to questions and concerns from employers, job applicants, and employees. 

Decision-making skills. Human resources specialists must use sound judgment when reviewing applicants’ qualifications or when working to resolve disputes.

Detail oriented. Specialists must pay attention to detail when evaluating applicants’ qualifications, doing background checks, maintaining records of an employee grievance, and ensuring that a workplace complies with labor standards.

Interpersonal skills. Specialists continually interact with others and must be able to converse and connect with people from varied backgrounds.

Pay About this section

Human Resources Specialists

Median annual wages, May 2021

Business operations specialists

$76,040

Human resources specialists

$62,290

Total, all occupations

$45,760

 

The median annual wage for human resources specialists was $62,290 in May 2021. 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 $37,680, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $108,160.

In May 2021, the median annual wages for human resources specialists in the top industries in which they worked were as follows:

Professional, scientific, and technical services $76,920
Government 74,150
Manufacturing 72,370
Healthcare and social assistance 57,720
Employment services 48,440

Some human resources specialists, particularly recruitment specialists, travel to attend job fairs, visit college campuses, and meet with applicants.

Most specialists work full time during regular business hours. Some work more than 40 hours per week.

Job Outlook About this section

Human Resources Specialists

Percent change in employment, projected 2020-30

Human resources specialists

10%

Business operations specialists

9%

Total, all occupations

8%

 

Employment of human resources specialists is projected to grow 10 percent from 2020 to 2030, about as fast as the average for all occupations.

About 73,400 openings for human resources specialists are projected each year, on average, over the decade. Many of those openings are expected to result from the need to replace workers who transfer to different occupations or exit the labor force, such as to retire.

Employment

Companies are likely to continue to outsource human resources functions to organizations that provide these services, rather than directly employing human resources specialists. In addition, the services of human resources generalists will likely be needed to handle increasingly complex employment laws and benefit options.

Employment projections data for human resources specialists, 2020-30
Occupational Title SOC Code Employment, 2020 Projected Employment, 2030 Change, 2020-30 Employment by Industry
Percent Numeric

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

Human resources specialists

13-1071 674,800 745,100 10 70,200 Get data

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