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Sources of Additional Information
* 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.
* For many specialized jobs, previous experience is an asset; for more advanced positions, including those of managers, arbitrators, and mediators, it is essential.
* Keen competition for jobs is expected because of the plentiful supply of qualified college graduates and experienced workers.
Nature of the Work
Attracting the most qualified employees and matching them to the jobs for which they are best suited is significant for the success of any organization. However, many enterprises are too large to permit close contact between top management and employees. Human resources, training, and labor relations managers and specialists provide this connection. In the past, these workers have been associated with performing the administrative function of an organization, such as handling employee benefits questions or recruiting, interviewing, and hiring new staff in accordance with policies and requirements that have been established in conjunction with top management. Today’s human resources workers manage these tasks and, increasingly, consult top executives regarding strategic planning. They have moved from behind-the-scenes staff work to leading the company in suggesting and changing policies. Senior management is recognizing the significance of the human resources department to their financial success.
In an effort to enhance morale and productivity, limit job turnover, and help organizations increase performance and improve business results, they also 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. Although some jobs in the human resources field require only limited contact with people outside the office, dealing with people is an important part of the job.
Staffing and Diversity Managers are responsible for managing the design, implementation and administration of staffing and placement systems. They are responsible for all aspects of affirmative action programs and the implementation and administration of all equal opportunity programs. These individuals strive to emphasize a focus on positive attention and leadership in managing office wide processes and practices toward women, minority and disabled employee development, and upward mobility.
Staffing and Diversity Managers advise, counsel and encourage administrators and supervisors to make decisions and implement changes which eliminate discrimination barriers. They make recommendations based on analyses of business procurement, contracts, workforce characteristics, organizational structure, and utilization of employees by ethnicity, race, gender, disability, and other variables. They participate in hiring, as well as the relocation process of applicable employees or management.
EEO officers, representatives, or affirmative action coordinators handle EEO matters in large organizations. They investigate and resolve EEO grievances, examine corporate practices for possible violations, and compile and submit EEO statistical reports.
Human resources work usually takes place in clean, pleasant, and comfortable office settings. Arbitrators and mediators may work out of their homes. Many human resources, training, and labor relations managers and specialists work a standard 35- to 40-hour week. However, longer hours might be necessary for some workers—for example, labor relations managers and specialists, arbitrators, and mediators—when contract agreements are being prepared and negotiated.
Although most human resources, training, and labor relations managers and specialists work in the office, some travel extensively. For example, recruiters regularly attend professional meetings and visit college campuses to interview prospective employees; arbitrators and mediators often must travel to the site chosen for negotiations.
Human resources, training, and labor relations managers and specialists held about 820,000 jobs in 2004. The following tabulation shows the distribution of jobs by occupational specialty:
|Training and development specialists||216,000|
|Employment, recruitment, and placement specialists||182,000|
|Human resources, training, and labor relations specialists, all other||166,000|
|Human resources managers||157,000|
|Compensation, benefits, and job analysis specialist||99,000|
Human resources, training, and labor relations managers and specialists were employed in virtually every industry. About 21,000 specialists were self-employed, working as consultants to public and private employers.
The private sector accounted for more than 8 out of 10 salaried jobs, including 11 percent in administrative and support services; 9 percent in professional, scientific, and technical services; 9 percent in manufacturing; 9 percent in health care and social assistance; and 9 percent in finance and insurance firms.
Government employed 17 percent of human resources managers and specialists. They handled the recruitment, interviewing, job classification, training, salary administration, benefits, employee relations, and other matters related to the Nation’s public employees.
Many colleges and universities have programs leading to a degree in personnel, human resources, or labor relations. Some offer degree programs in human resources administration or human resources management, training and development, or compensation and benefits. Depending on the school, courses leading to a career in human resources management may be found in departments of business administration, education, instructional technology, organizational development, human services, communication, or public administration, or within a separate human resources institution or department.
Because an interdisciplinary background is appropriate in this field, a combination of courses in the social sciences, business, and behavioral sciences is useful. Some jobs may require a more technical or specialized background in engineering, science, finance, or law, for example. Most prospective human resources specialists should take courses in compensation, recruitment, training and development, and performance appraisal, as well as courses in principles of management, organizational structure, and industrial psychology. Other relevant courses include business administration, public administration, psychology, sociology, political science, economics, and statistics. Courses in labor law, collective bargaining, labor economics, labor history, and industrial psychology also provide a valuable background for the prospective labor relations specialist. As in many other fields, knowledge of computers and information systems also is useful.
An advanced degree is increasingly important for some jobs. Many labor relations jobs require graduate study in industrial or labor relations. A strong background in industrial relations and law is highly desirable for contract negotiators, mediators, and arbitrators; in fact, many people in these specialties are lawyers. A background in law also is desirable for employee benefits managers and others who must interpret the growing number of laws and regulations. A master’s degree in human resources, labor relations, or in business administration with a concentration in human resources management is highly recommended for those seeking general and top management positions.
For many specialized jobs in the human resources field, previous experience is an asset; for more advanced positions, including those of managers as well as arbitrators and mediators, it is essential. 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 human resources field demands a range of personal qualities and skills. Human resources, training, and labor relations managers and specialists must speak and write effectively. The growing diversity of the workforce requires that they work with or supervise people with various cultural backgrounds, levels of education, and experience. They must be able to cope with conflicting points of view, function under pressure, and demonstrate discretion, integrity, fair-mindedness, and a persuasive, congenial personality.
The duties given to entry-level workers will vary, depending on whether the new workers have a degree in human resource management, have completed an internship, or have some other type of human resources-related experience. Entry-level employees commonly learn the profession by performing administrative duties—helping to enter data into computer systems, compiling employee Handbooks, researching information for a supervisor, or answering the phone and handling routine questions. Entry-level workers often enter formal or on-the-job training programs in which they learn how to classify jobs, interview applicants, or administer employee benefits. They then are assigned to specific areas in the human resources department to gain experience. Later, they may advance to a managerial position, supervising a major element of the human resources program—compensation or training, for example.
Exceptional human resources workers may be promoted to director of human resources or industrial relations, which can eventually lead to a top managerial or executive position. Others may join a consulting firm or open their own business. A Ph.D. is an asset for teaching, writing, or consulting work.
Most organizations specializing in human resources offer classes intended to enhance the marketable skills of their members. Some organizations offer certification programs, which are signs of competence and can enhance one’s advancement opportunities. For example, the International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans confers a designation to persons who complete a series of college-level courses and pass exams covering employee benefit plans. The American Society for Training & Development Certification Institute offers certification; it requires passing a knowledge-based exam and successful work product. The Society for Human Resource Management has two levels of certification; both require experience and a passing score on a comprehensive exam.
The abundant supply of qualified college graduates and experienced workers should create keen competition for jobs. Overall employment of human resources, training, and labor relations managers and specialists is expected to grow faster than the average for all occupations through 2014. In addition to openings due to growth, many job openings will arise from the need to replace workers who transfer to other occupations or leave the labor force.
Legislation and court rulings setting standards in various areas — occupational safety and health, equal employment opportunity, wages, health care, pensions, and family leave, among others — will increase demand for human resources, training, and labor relations experts. Rising health care costs should continue to spur demand for specialists to develop creative compensation and benefits packages that firms can offer prospective employees. Employment of labor relations staff, including arbitrators and mediators, should grow as firms become more involved in labor relations, and attempt to resolve potentially costly labor-management disputes out of court. Additional job growth may stem from increasing demand for specialists in international human resources management and human resources information systems.
Demand may be particularly strong for certain specialists. For example, employers are expected to devote greater resources to job-specific training programs in response to the increasing complexity of many jobs, the aging of the workforce, and technological advances that can leave employees with obsolete skills. This should result in strong demand for training and development specialists. In addition, increasing efforts throughout industry to recruit and retain quality employees should create many jobs for employment, recruitment, and placement specialists.
Among industries, firms involved in management, consulting, and employment services should offer many job opportunities, as businesses increasingly contract out human resources functions or hire human resources specialists on a temporary basis in order to deal with the increasing cost and complexity of training and development programs. Demand also should increase in firms that develop and administer complex employee benefits and compensation packages for other organizations.
Demand for human resources, training, and labor relations managers and specialists also are governed by the staffing needs of the firms for which they work. A rapidly expanding business is likely to hire additional human resources workers—either as permanent employees or consultants—while a business that has experienced a merger or a reduction in its workforce will require fewer human resources workers. Also, as human resources management becomes increasingly important to the success of an organization, some small and medium-size businesses that do not have a human resources department may assign employees various human resources duties together with other unrelated responsibilities. In any particular firm, the size and the job duties of the human resources staff are determined by the firm’s organizational philosophy and goals, skills of its workforce, pace of technological change, government regulations, collective bargaining agreements, standards of professional practice, and labor market conditions.
Job growth could be limited by the widespread use of computerized human resources information systems that make workers more productive. Like that of other workers, employment of human resources, training, and labor relations managers and specialists, particularly in larger firms, may be adversely affected by corporate downsizing, restructuring, and mergers.
Annual salary rates for human resources workers vary according to occupation, level of experience, training, location, and size of the firm, and whether they are union members.
Median annual earnings of compensation and benefits managers were $66,530 in May 2004. The middle 50 percent earned between $49,970 and $89,340. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $39,250, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $118,880. In May 2004, median annual earnings were $ 81,080 in the management of companies and enterprises industry.
Median annual earnings of training and development managers were $67,460 in May 2004. The middle 50 percent earned between $49,060 and $91,020. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $36,430, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $119,580.
Median annual earnings of human resources managers, all other were $81,810 in May 2004. The middle 50 percent earned between $62,080 and $106,440. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $48,060, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $136,600. In May 2004, median annual earnings were $92,590, in the management of companies and enterprises industry.
Median annual earnings of employment, recruitment, and placement specialists were $41,190 in May 2004. The middle 50 percent earned between $31,820 and $55,540. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $25,690, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $76,230. In May 2004, median annual earnings in the industries employing the largest numbers of employment, recruitment, and placement specialists were:
|Management, scientific, |
and technical consulting services
|Management of companies and enterprises||46,780|
|Management of companies and enterprises||50,970|
Median annual earnings of training and development specialists were $44,570 in May 2004. The middle 50 percent earned between $33,530 and $58,750. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $25,800, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $74,650. In May 2004, median annual earnings in the industries employing the largest numbers of training and development specialists were:
|Management of companies and enterprises||$49,540|
According to a 2005 salary survey conducted by the National Association of Colleges and Employers, bachelor’s degree candidates majoring in human resources, including labor relations, received starting offers averaging $36,967 a year.
The average salary for human resources managers employed by the Federal Government was $71,232 in 2005; for employee relations specialists, $84,847; for labor relations specialists, $93,895; and for employee development specialists, $80,958. Salaries were slightly higher in areas where the prevailing local pay level was higher. There are no formal entry-level requirements for managerial positions. Applicants must possess a suitable combination of educational attainment, experience, and record of accomplishment.
All human resources occupations are closely related. Other workers with skills and expertise in interpersonal relations include counselors, education administrators, public relations specialists, lawyers, psychologists, social and human service assistants, and social workers.
Sources of Additional Information
For information about human resource management careers and certification, contact:
* Society for Human Resource Management, 1800 Duke St., Alexandria, VA 22314. Internet: http://www.shrm.org
For information about careers in employee training and development and certification, contact:
* American Society for Training &Development, 1640 King St., Box 1443, Alexandria, VA 22313-2043. Internet: http://www.astd.org
For information about careers and certification in employee compensation and benefits, contact:
* International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans, 18700 W. Bluemound Rd., P.O. Box 69, Brookfield, WI 53008-0069. Internet: http://www.ifebp.org
* World at Work, 14040 N. Northsight Blvd., Scottsdale, AZ 85260. Internet: http://www.worldatwork.org
For information about academic programs in labor and employment relations, write to:
* Labor and Employment Relations Association, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, 121 Labor and Industrial Relations Bldg., 504 E. Armory Ave., Champaign, IL 61820. Internet: http://www.lera.uiuc.edu
Information about human resources careers in the health care industry is available from:
* American Society for Healthcare Human Resources Administration, One North Franklin, 31st Floor, Chicago, IL 60606. Internet: http://www.ashhra.org
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