A labor relations specialist is the bridge between an organization’s employees and management. Most labor relations specialists work for companies with unionized employees or for government agencies, but with the decrease in unionized jobs, some may work with non-union employees as well.
As a specialty in the field of personnel and organizational management, becoming a labor relations specialist means keeping the labor force happy and productive. As they are employed in almost every industry, labor relations specialists should have a strong interdisciplinary background with study in a wide variety of fields including psychology, business, labor law and communications. Many of these courses can be found online or in local community colleges.
Labor relations specialists must posses at least a bachelor’s degree in a field of study related to the industry in which they hope to work. Many successful labor relations specialists also hold an advanced degree, which opens up many more opportunities for advancement.
Labor relations specialists implement industrial labor-relations programs for a company or government agency. They research and prepare information for the organization’s managers to use during collective bargaining negotiations. They often oversee a staff that will implement the contract points, including wages, grievances, health care, employee welfare, union and management practices and pensions.
Becoming a labor relations specialist entails the following:
Most labor relations specialists work out of comfortable offices, but they may also spend a good deal of time in a company plant or wherever the employees work. Some may go on to become self-employed consultants to both public and private employers.
Labor relations specialists are well paid for the knowledge they possess and their experience in their chosen field. According to the United States Bureau of Labor and Statistics, the median salary for a labor relations specialist in May of 2006 was $94,927.
With the increase in legislation that sets labor standards, labor relations specialist jobs are expected to grow faster than average – approximately 17% through 2016. This may be adversely affected by the increase in computerization of some aspects of the position.