Labor Relations

See what the field of labor relations entails. Learn about job prospects and potential earnings. Get information about the education requirements for working in labor relations, and find out what areas of specialization you could choose from.

Is a Career in Labor Relations for Me?

Career Overview

Working in labor relations, your primary responsibilities are to negotiate and resolve disputes between workers and managers. To be successful in this role, you must be knowledgeable about the labor laws of your industry, have strong communication skills and be able to interact with all kinds of people. You can specialize in a particular area of labor relations, such as dispute resolution or employee benefits. Some labor relation specialists need to be fluent in a foreign language due to the diversity of large workforces.

Salary and Employment Outlook

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projected labor relations jobs would decrease slightly from 2012-2022 (www.bls.gov). New jobs will be limited due to a decrease in union memberships and the need for labor negotiations. Labor relations specialists made a median annual income of $54,630 in 2013, as reported by the BLS. You could have the opportunity to advance to management-level positions in this field with enough experience and education. Some choose to eventually move on to an outsourcing company or start their own consulting firm.

How Can I Work in Labor Relations?

Education Requirements

You normally need at least a bachelor's degree to work in labor relations. A degree in labor relations is ideal, but many companies hire applicants who have degrees in related areas of study, such as business administration or industrial psychology. A graduate degree with an emphasis in labor laws or industrial relations has become increasingly important if you want to work in management.

Specializations and Topics of Study

Some 4-year undergraduate programs in labor studies give you the opportunity to specialize in areas such as unions, social movements, workplace law and work globalization. Most graduate-level degree programs in labor relations allow you to pick an area of concentration, including dispute resolution and collective representation. A bachelor's program in labor relations often includes courses in sexual harassment, workplace violence and conflict resolution. Courses for a labor relations master's degree usually combine business and human relationship components to prepare you to work for many different organizations and companies.

Certifications

Certifications are rarely required but can enhance your job prospects. You can become a Certified Employee Benefits Specialist or a Certified Compensation Professional, depending on your particular interest in labor relations. Certification is usually obtained by passing a series of exams administered by the professional organization that gives out the designations, such as the WorldatWork Society of Certified Professionals or the International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans.

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