Labor Sciences and Studies
If you're a good listener who can see many sides of the same story and you're interested in organizational behavior and fairness at work, you might be interested in labor science. Read on to learn more about career options, salary potential and degree options for labor specialists.
Are Labor Sciences and Studies for Me
As a labor science professional, you'll facilitate the relationship between employees and employers. This role could take many forms, such as negotiating and structuring labor agreements or arbitrating disputes.
Careers in labor science can be found in either the public or private sector. For example, you might work as a mediator between employers and labor unions. With the right training and experience, you could also become a private labor consultant or labor relations manager at a company.
Employment and Salary Information
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projected that labor relations jobs would decrease by 1% from 2012-2022, due to a decline in union membership. The BLS also stated that in May 2012, labor relations specialists earned a mean annual wage of $56,210, while arbitrators and mediators took home $77,200 (www.bls.gov).
How Can I Work in Labor Science and Studies?
Both undergraduate and graduate programs in labor studies are available. A bachelor's degree in labor relations can prepare you for most entry-level labor specialist positions. Course topics include the U.S. labor movement and its history, workplace laws, diversity and conflict resolution. Collective bargaining, the global economy, lawmaking and social dynamics at work will also be covered; courses in engineering, finance, psychology and social sciences may be beneficial.
If you want to become a contract negotiator or mediator, you'll probably need a specialized master's degree in industrial labor relations. Many negotiators and mediators obtain law degrees. Master's programs in human resources and business administration are another option if you're interested in a senior management position. Some graduate programs allow for specializations in international policy or collective representation, which emphasize social justice, labor economics and organizational behavior. A doctoral degree can be helpful if you're interested in becoming a consultant, writer or teacher.
In your position as a labor specialist, you'll need strong communication and leadership skills, discretion and the ability to work under pressure. Bilingualism is a definite asset, especially if you work for an international company or one with immigrant employees.