The success of a business depends on effective managers and hardworking employees; it also depends on the skills and expertise of a human resources department. Human resources specialists, in particular, perform many duties behind the scenes to ensure their organizations run smoothly. As of 2019, about 667,000 professionals worked as human resources specialists across the country, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).
Human resources specialists oversee many essential aspects of a business. They are integral to the success of a human resources department and may have any number of specific and general responsibilities.
Human resources (HR) specialists are primarily responsible for the recruitment processes in their organizations. They work with a company’s hiring manager to determine criteria for an ideal candidate, post job openings on the company’s website and job boards, and monitor applications. They also coordinate interviews between applicants and hiring managers, contact applicants’ references, and review necessary documents. After an individual is hired, HR specialists process the new employee’s contract.
HR specialists are responsible for organizing and conducting employee orientations and training sessions. They provide new employees with necessary information and update current employees with information about new practices, policies, and procedures. They support employees regarding office-related issues and keep records of employee conversations or complaints.
A human resources specialist’s salary and job description can vary based on the industry and specific organization. Industry areas with the largest percentage of HR specialists include employment services, scientific and technical services, professional services, government, healthcare, and manufacturing, according to the BLS.
Human resources specialists complete a variety of duties in HR departments. But what is the role of these specialists within the broader HR landscape? An organization’s human resources department oversees all administrative duties, from planning programs to advising managers on specific personnel and employment-related legal or regulatory issues. While some HR specialists focus on a particular HR function—such as recruitment and training—others act as HR generalists, HR managers, or HR directors.
Ensuring that job candidates are qualified and current employees are properly trained is key to maximizing a business’s performance. HR professionals should have expertise in employee rights, equal pay, sexual harassment, and equal employment opportunities. They should be able to serve as mediators for disputes, support employees’ rights, and enforce disciplinary measures when an employee violates company policy.
The HR specialist role may serve as a stepping stone toward human resources management or another executive-level position. However, to begin that journey, an individual should meet the educational and certification requirements associated with the role.
Prospective HR specialists typically begin their careers by earning a bachelor’s degree in human resources, business administration, public administration, or a related field. Courses in HR management, business policy, employee placement, and human behavior in organizations, among others, prepare individuals for the job duties they will need to perform.
Necessary skills for HR specialists include excellent written and verbal communication, problem-solving, interpersonal intelligence, budgeting and accounting, attention to detail, and leadership. Having an understanding of human psychology, industrial relations, and business is also essential.
While not all employers require certification, it can help individuals enhance their skills and become more competitive in the job market. Organizations such as the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) offer different credentials for HR specialists and managers. Entry-level HR professionals with a bachelor’s degree should gain at least one to two years of experience in the field before applying for certification. Other organizations, such as the HR Certification Institute (HRCI), offer a variety of certifications for professionals with different levels of experience.
A human resources specialist’s salary varies across industries and organizations. For example, according to the BLS, HR specialists working in scientific or technical services earn a median annual salary of $70,180, while comparable professionals in healthcare earn a median annual salary of $53,190. The national median annual salary for all HR specialists is $61,920. However, entry-level HR specialists may earn less, and those in senior-level positions may earn much more. HR specialists looking to advance to HR manager roles can anticipate a median annual salary of $116,720, according to the BLS.
The BLS estimates that HR specialist positions will grow by 7% between 2019 and 2029, which is faster than the average rate for all careers (4%). Furthermore, it projects the employment of HR managers to grow by 6% during that same time. Approximately 713,500 positions may become available for HR specialists by 2029, as more complex benefits and employment laws will likely require a greater number of professionals in this field.
Working in an HR department has many benefits for professionals, as well as for the organizations they serve. HR specialists can hire and train new employees who carry out the mission and vision of their companies. To develop an understanding of business principles, prospective human resources specialists can pursue an online Bachelor of Science in Business Administration, such as the one offered by LSU Online.
If you want to learn more about how to become an HR specialist and earn a human resources specialist salary, explore how LSU Online’s Bachelor of Science in Business Administration degree program can help prepare you for a rewarding career.
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