Learn About Being a Human Resources Specialist

Get info on Job Description, Requirements and Salary Expectations

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After first identifying an employer's needs, a human resources specialist (often referred to as an HR specialist) helps find job candidates who are most qualified to meet them. He or she screens job candidates by looking at their resumes, conducting interviews and performing background checks. The HR specialist may also inform applicants of their acceptance or rejection.

His or her work may not go beyond recruitment and placement of employees, but often it does. An HR specialist may orient new hires by explaining company or organization policies, procedures and benefits. Some HR specialists also have other duties including benefits administration and employee retention.

Human resources specialists may be generalists or they may specialize. Specialty areas include recruitment, interviewing and job placement.

Employment Facts

There were 418,000 human resources specialists employed in the US in 2012. While many work in-house for the employers to whom they provide their services, about 15% are employed by employment placement or temporary help agencies.

Most HR specialists work full time during regular business hours. Those who specialize in recruitment must travel to job fairs and college campuses where they have access to potential applicants.

Educational Requirements

While there are no specific requirements to work in this occupation, earning a bachelor's degree in human resources management, business or a related major can increase your chances of getting a job. Earning a degree in psychology, particularly with a minor or dual major in human resources or business, can also provide good preparation for this career. Regardless of one's major, coursework should include personnel administration, human resources and labor relations, social sciences, business administration and behavioral sciences.

Other Requirements

Human resources specialists aren't required to become certified but doing so can increase the likelihood of advancing in this field. Several professional associations offer certification programs. The HR Certification Institute (HRCI), for example, offers several certifications that are based on education, experience and examination.

In addition to educational requirements and voluntary certification, an HR specialist also needs certain soft skills (personal qualities) to succeed in this occupation. Interviewing job candidates requires one to have strong listening skills. He or or she should also be aware of another person's reactions. This is called social perceptiveness. An HR specialist should also have excellent speaking skills, as well as the ability to convey information through writing. Good judgement and decision making skills are also needed.

Advancement Opportunities

A qualified human resources specialist may be promoted to human resources director or vice president of human resources.

Job Outlook

Employment of human resources specialists is projected to grow more slowly than the average for all occupations through 2022.


In 2014 human resources specialists earned a median annual salary of $57,420 and hourly wages of $27.60 (US).

Use the Salary Wizard at Salary.com to find out how much a human resources specialist currently earns in your city.

A Day in a Human Resources Specialist's Life

These are some typical job duties taken from online ads for human resources specialist positions found on Indeed.com:

  • Recruit and coordinate interviewing, references, and documentation for staff hiring.
  • Follow up on hiring decisions.
  • Distribute, complete and process paperwork for new hires.
  • Work with employees to answer benefits questions and assist in processing life events and open enrollment elections.
  • Conduct new hire orientation and benefits orientation to build a strong foundation for new employees and increase employee engagement.
  • Assist in development of policies and procedures.
  • Coordinate exit process for departing employees.
  • Coach management and teams to promote and facilitate career growth and development.

Bureau of Labor Statistics, US Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2014-15 Edition, Human Resources Specialists and Labor Relations Specialists, on the Internet at http://www.bls.gov/ooh/business-and-financial/human-resources-specialists-and-labor-relations-specialists.htm. (visited May 21, 2015).
Employment and Training Administration, US Department of Labor, O*NET Online, Human Resources Specialists, on the Internet at http://www.onetonline.org/link/details/13-1071.00 (visited May 21, 2015).