Career outlook: Human resources specialist

  • HR professionals are heavily involved in the interview process for new employees.
    HR professionals are heavily involved in the interview process for new employees.

    Career outlook: Human resources specialist

    HR professionals are crucial figures in all types of organizations, regardless of industry, size or business goals. These employees play a significant role in building and maintaining a workplace culture and supporting all staff members through various administrative functions. It’s not just about employee conduct handbooks and staff regulations; HR specialists contribute to countless areas of the organization. Read on to find out all about the job duties of HR specialists, as well as career and salary outlooks for this role.

    Job duties of an HR specialist

    It’s not easy to boil down the countless responsibilities of human resources specialists for brevity. These professionals wear multiple hats and work alongside every single member of the organization at some point in time. Some of the major duties HR specialists undertake in their day-to-day include:

    • Working with employers to determine staffing needs
    • Interviewing applicants about their experience and skills
    • Contacting job applicants’ references
    • Recruiting and onboarding new hires
    • Maintaining employment records
    • Holding exit interviews for departing employees

    In addition to performing a variety of essential functions, HR specialists serve as databases for information regarding benefits, payroll and workplace conduct. When employees have a question about taking personal time or switching to direct deposit, for instance, they will likely turn to HR.

    Some of the duties allocated to HR aren’t quite as “fun,” though they are essential nonetheless. HR professionals may be indirectly involved in the process of letting people go. Typically they are not the ones to deliver the bad news, but instead step in to provide resources to understaffed individuals, such as state and federal unemployment information and severance packages. Another responsibility they may have within an organization involves the mediation of conflicting parties of employees. They may need to speak with employees who are filing complaints against their managers or fellow staff members. These duties may not provide HR professionals with the same joy they feel offering a job applicant their dream role, but they are critical functions in a business.

    HR specialist job outlook

    According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the employment of human resources specialists is expected to rise 7 percent through 2026. Since the overall workforce is projected to rise 6 percent overall, the demand for HR professionals is at just about the same rate.

    While the rise of technology allows HR specialists to complete many of their job duties online or over the phone — rather than needing to meet with candidates in person — these professionals have more flexibility to work remotely. Particularly on the recruiting end, HR professionals conduct a majority of their work through email and professional networking sites like LinkedIn. In addition, the rise of human capital management software has allowed businesses to keep most (if not all) of their HR information in one place online.

    HR specialist salary estimates

    The BLS reported that the median annual wage for HR specialists was $60,880 in May 2018. Those receiving the highest 10% of wages in this field earned more than $104,390. Different factors contribute to an HR professional’s exact wages, including experience, education and industry. Just as with most careers, the more experience one has in the role, the more they can expect to make. In addition, different sectors provide various earning levels. Here’s an industry-specific breakdown of the median annual salary for professionals in May 2018, as per the BLS:

    • Professional, scientific and technical services: $68,620
    • Government: $66,350
    • Manufacturing: $63,360
    • Employment services: $53,760
    • Healthcare and social assistance: $52,140

    Finally, individuals with a master’s degree can expect to receive higher wages in human resources positions. Although you can secure a career in HR with a bachelor’s degree alone, you might want to pursue a master’s degree to set yourself apart from a competitive applicant pool. A Master of Business Administration provides you with the management acumen you need to thrive in this career. Many MBA programs offer students the opportunity to specialize in human resource management so they can take courses that hone their understanding of the employee end of the business.

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