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Although the qualifications to become an employee relations specialist can vary considerably by employer, in many cases you must have at least a bachelor's degree and several years of experience working in the area of human resources. In some cases, it may be to your benefit to seek out additional training in employee relations through either continuing education programs or traditional schooling. Depending on the nature of the company that you work for, you may also need to develop knowledge in specific areas, such as working with organized labor groups. In some positions, you may be required to take on generalist human resources tasks as well as the more specific employee relations work, so it may behoove you to maintain and expand your generalist human resources knowledge and skills.
If you have already been working in the benefits or human resources department of a company and find that you particularly gravitate toward working with employees and ensuring that their needs and concerns are addressed, you may wish to become an employee relations specialist. In this role, you will work with both the rank and file and management to ensure that company morale remains high, the company remains profitable, and that pertinent laws and regulations are adhered to. As this sort of work typically requires that you earn the trust of both management and employees and in some cases the representatives of organized labor, working in human resources for several years may be necessary in order to give you the experience and judgment needed in the role of employee relations specialist.
In many cases, an employer will want you to hold a bachelor's degree in business, psychology, or human resources before allowing you to become an employee relations specialist within its company. In some instances, the employer may even want you to hold a master's level degree, particularly if you will be supervising other employees, working for a very large company, or conducting significant amounts of research. If you are already working in human resources and you are eager to transition into a specialist position, your company may send you to employee relations specialist training in the form of seminars or other continuing education classes. You may also wish to consider completing a post-graduate certificate, diploma, or even a master's degree in human resources. Even after you become an employee relations specialist, your career progress will likely depend on your earning an advanced degree or obtaining a professional industry certification, so it is wise to continuously review the options available to you.
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