Labor Relations Specialists

Career, Salary and Education Information

What They Do: Labor relations specialists interpret and administer labor contracts.

Work Environment: Labor relations specialists generally work in offices. Most work full time during regular business hours.

How to Become One: Applicants usually have a bachelor’s degree in labor relations, human resources, industrial relations, business, or a related field. However, the level of education and experience required varies by position and employer.

Salary: The median annual wage for labor relations specialists is $77,010.

Job Outlook: Employment of labor relations specialists is projected to decline 3 percent over the next ten years.

Related Careers: Compare the job duties, education, job growth, and pay of labor relations specialists with similar occupations.

Following is everything you need to know about a career as a labor relations specialist with lots of details. As a first step, take a look at some of the following jobs, which are real jobs with real employers. You will be able to see the very real job career requirements for employers who are actively hiring. The link will open in a new tab so that you can come back to this page to continue reading about the career:

Top 3 Labor Relations Specialist Jobs

  • Labor Relations Specialist - Remote MN/SD - Sanford Health - Bemidji, MN

    Day Job Schedule: Full time Weekly Hours: 40. 00 Salary Range: $34.50 - $57.00 Job Summary The Labor Relations Specialist works with Labor Relations Counsel and a team of labor relations specialists ...

  • Employee & Labor Relations Specialist - USAJOBS - Oceanside, CA

    Develops and implements an employee/ labor relations program which meets the needs of MCCS and the intent of law and regulations. Performs and reviews trend analysis of grievances, unfair labor ...

  • Human Resources Specialist (Employee and Labor Relations) - U.S. Mint - San Francisco, CA

    As a Human Resources Specialist (Employee and Labor Relations ), you will serve as the E/LR advisor and provide continuing senior-level advice in the areas of conduct, performance, attendance, dispute ...

See all Labor Relations Specialist jobs

What Labor Relations Specialists Do[About this section] [To Top]

Labor relations specialists interpret and administer labor contracts regarding issues such as wages and salaries, healthcare, pensions, and union and management practices.

Duties of Labor Relations Specialists

Labor relations specialists typically do the following:

  • Advise management on contracts, worker grievances, and disciplinary procedures
  • Lead meetings between management and labor
  • Meet with union representatives
  • Draft proposals and rules or regulations
  • Ensure that human resources policies are consistent with union agreements
  • Interpret formal communications between management and labor
  • Investigate validity of labor grievances
  • Train management on labor relations

Labor relations specialists work with representatives from a labor union and a company's management. In addition to leading meetings between the two groups, these specialists draft formal language as part of the collective bargaining process. These contracts are called collective bargaining agreements (CBAs), and they serve as a legal and procedural guide for employee/management relations.

Labor relations specialists also address specific grievances workers might have, and ensure that all labor and management solutions comply within the relevant CBA.

Work Environment for Labor Relations Specialists[About this section] [To Top]

Labor relations specialists hold about 65,000 jobs. The largest employers of labor relations specialists are as follows:

Labor unions and similar labor organizations 75%
Government 4%
Management of companies and enterprises 2%

Labor relations specialists generally work in offices. Some may travel for arbitration meetings or to discuss contracts with employees or management. The work of labor relations specialists can be stressful because negotiating contracts and resolving labor grievances can be tense.

Labor Relations Specialist Work Schedules

Most labor relations specialists work full time during regular business hours. Some specialists work longer periods when preparing for meetings or settling disputes.

How to Become a Labor Relations Specialist[About this section] [To Top]

Get the education you need: Find schools for Labor Relations Specialists near you!

Applicants usually have a bachelor's degree in labor relations, human resources, industrial relations, business, or a related field. However, the level of education and experience required to become a labor relations specialist varies by position and employer.

Education for Labor Relations Specialists

Labor relations specialists usually have a bachelor's degree. Some schools offer a bachelor's degree in labor or employment relations. These programs focus on labor-specific topics such as employment law and contract negotiation.

Candidates also may qualify for labor relations specialist positions with a bachelor's degree in human resources, industrial relations, business, or a related field. Coursework typically includes business, professional writing, human resource management, and accounting.

Work Experience in a Related Occupation for Labor Relations Specialists

Many positions require previous work experience. Candidates can gain experience as human resources specialists, compensation, benefits, and job analysis specialists, or human resources generalists before specializing in labor relations.

Licenses, Certifications, and Registrations for Labor Relations Specialists

Some colleges and universities offer labor relations certificates to specialists who prefer greater specialization in certain topics, such as mediation. Earning these certificates give participants a better understanding of labor law, the collective bargaining process, and worker grievance procedures.

Advancement for Labor Relations Specialists

Labor relations specialists who seek further expertise in contract negotiation, labor law, and similar topics may become lawyers. They will need to earn a law degree and pass their state's bar exam.

Important Qualities for Labor Relations Specialists

Decisionmaking skills. Labor relations specialists use decisionmaking skills to help management and labor agree on decisions when resolving grievances or other disputes.

Detail oriented. Specialists must be detail oriented when evaluating labor laws and maintaining records of an employee grievance.

Interpersonal skills. Interpersonal skills are essential for labor relations specialists. When mediating between labor and management, specialists must be able to converse and connect with people from different backgrounds.

Listening skills. Listening skills are essential for labor relations specialists. When evaluating grievances, for example, they must pay careful attention to workers' responses, understand the points they are making, and ask relevant follow-up questions.

Writing skills. All labor relations specialists need strong writing skills to be effective at their job. They often draft proposals, and these proposals must be able to convey complex information to both workers and management.

Labor Relations Specialist Salaries[About this section] [More salary/earnings info] [To Top]

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Entry Level Experienced

The median annual wage for labor relations specialists is $77,010. 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 $22,880, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $126,330.

The median annual wages for labor relations specialists in the top industries in which they work are as follows:

Management of companies and enterprises $94,480
Government $80,500
Labor unions and similar labor organizations $74,970

Most labor relations specialists work full time during regular business hours. Some specialists work longer periods when preparing for meetings or settling disputes.

Job Outlook for Labor Relations Specialists[About this section] [To Top]

Employment of labor relations specialists is projected to decline 5 percent over the next ten years.

Despite declining employment, about 5,800 openings for labor relations specialists are projected each year, on average, over the decade. All of those openings are expected to result from the need to replace workers who transfer to other occupations or exit the labor force, such as to retire.

Employment of Labor Relations Specialists

If union membership rates decline, overall demand for these specialists will be limited. However, there will still be some need for labor relations specialists' expertise as union negotiations and contract disputes continue.

Employment projections data for Labor Relations Specialists, 2021-31
Occupational Title Employment, 2021 Projected Employment, 2031 Change, 2021-31
Percent Numeric
Labor relations specialists 65,000 63,300 -3 -1,700


A portion of the information on this page is used by permission of the U.S. Department of Labor.


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